Dino Denied

FCA’s Sergio Marchionne appears to be saying no to a new-generation Ferrari ‘Dino’. Well he was last week anyway…

About as much Dino as you’re likely to get. Image: pinstake

Much like the current resident of the American White House, FCA’s Chief Knitwear Officer appears to think nothing of holding entirely bipolar positions on policy, seemingly at will. Over the years, the Turin binman has led us a merry polka and yet here we are, akin to the beleaguered Washington press corps, Pavlovian to our slavering chops. Because one thing of which we can be certain is that whatever either the leader of the free World or the Italian-Canadian yarnmiester pronounces upon will be slavishly reported upon, disseminated and pored over, which is of course the point of the exercise.

Experience really ought to have taught us the pointlessness in taking any of Sergio’s pronouncements seriously. For more a decade at least, we’ve been hearing that the new ‘Dino’ is imminent, but has thus far steadfastly eluded corporeal form. In 2015, for example, following the palace coup which ousted Maranello incumbent, Luca de Montezemolo, Marchionne told journalists that it “wasn’t a matter of if, but when” a new Dino-badged Ferrari would appear – news that was greeted by the enthusiast press with predictable hyperbole.

Some two years later and without the merest whiff of a concrete model programme in hand, the FCA boss and angora enthusiast, while regaling investors and analysts on the Prancing Horse’s forthcoming plans, surprised his audience by appearing to pour cold water on the idea of a cheaper ‘Dino’ model, while leaving broad hints that it’s more likely they’ll go-ahead with the high-riding Ferrari-badged off-road vehicle he previously swore Maranello would never build.

There’s probably as much sense in getting into the whys and wherefores  as there is in trying to second-guess the current Ferrari chief, but it’s been obvious to anyone who follows the industry that once the likes of Aston Martin and Lamborghini took the leap into SUVs, Maranello too would move to grab a piece of that high-riding action. Add in a stated Marchionne ambition of growing Ferrari volumes above the recent 10,000 cars a year ceiling, and a 4×4 of some description was always going to be a racing certainty.

Meanwhile as news of the putative Dino’s (putative) demise is bewailed by enthusiasts of a more traditional bent, a few observations. It’s worth remembering that even if it lacks the badging, the current mid-engined 488 model can trace its lineage back to the 1967 Dino, even if it’s now something of a bloated facsimile. Another point to bear in mind is the naivety in imagining Marchionne would sanction a Ferrari-branded model at a lower than existing price point.

Why? Quite simply because Maranello’s primary purpose is that of parting customers from very large sums of money. Couple to that the difficulty in creating a watertight business case for a cheaper car line which would cost at least as much to develop as more expensive models (to say nothing of the potential profitability of a V12-engined 4×4) and it’s obvious that only one of these programmes is going to fly.

Now of course the one thing you can say with relative certainty is that whatever the Marchionne game plan for the Cavallino Rampante might be, (should one indeed exist) it will be as much subject to Serge’s capricious whim as the ongoing state of Ferrari’s balance sheet.

Nevertheless, I make two confident predictions. First, that the putative ‘Dino’ will continue to plot its binary and entirely fictitious path through the fevered imaginations of the automotive press and second, that while the next generation of mid-engined Ferraris may well be powered by downsized V6s, the chances of a new Ferrari Dino in any recognisable form is virtually nil.

Having said that, it’s equally possible Sergio will make liars of us all, by naming their forthcoming 4×4 after Enzo’s ill-fated son and heir. After all, the original Dino was such a break from Maranello tradition, it carried no Ferrari badging at all. Unlikely? Perhaps, but with Marchionne at the helm, anything’s possible.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

17 thoughts on “Dino Denied”

  1. A Ferrari SUV is an awful idea. Although many companies have missed out on huge profits by dithering over making an SUV, allowing competitors to clean up, it really might be that the bubble will burst soon.

    More importantly, Ferrari has the most valuable brand in the automotive world. If an SUV (even a hyper expensive, hyper powerful one) damages that brand, what next?

  2. The case for the defence: unpopular though it might be around these parts, Marchionne made the right call on Alfa Romeo.

    Rather than sanction yet another underwhelming front wheel drive model, Sergio bit the bullet and assembled a development team to make the kind of cars that Alfa should have been making. The Giulia is a fine effort, and the Stelvio is at least relatively light and low by SUV standards.

    Of course, misplaced nostalgia for the 159 (an undeveloped FWD Alfa which sold badly) is undermining the Giulia and the self-proclaimed Alfisti will always find something to complain about.

    Other SUVs have succeeded in bringing lots of conquest sales for their parent brands, so maybe the Stelvio can break free from this negativity?

    1. There are other people feeling nostalgic about the 159? All I keep on hearing is that it was dull and overweight, while I consider its styling (compromised FWD silhouette apart) a late Giugiaro masterpiece, so I considered myself to be in a minority here.

    2. You are not alone, Kris. Yes, compromised as its platform may be, I also was a big fan of its design – and I even seriously considered buying one.
      What really makes me nostalgic about it is the fact that the very fine estate (much better designed than the 156 in my opinion) is now replaced by this ugly chunk of metal called the Stelvio.

    3. Jacomo: The binary conceit within your commentary isn’t lost on me. Nice work…

      And Kris, I’m an advocate for the 159’s styling as well. It’s an outstandingly handsome design and only the lack of an engine that did its exterior justice marks it down for me. FWD? Makes no difference. Alfa were good at front-drive, something the evangelists tend to conveniently gloss over.

    4. You can add me to the list of 159 fans from an exterior design perspective … less so the interior. I still prefer the 156 saloon, I’d need to have a side-by-side look at the two estates to make my mind up about that particular derivative.

    5. SV: are you thinking of the same car? To check I googled a few images. The interior looks plenty AR to me and very much more pleasing than a Maserati or Ferrari. They channelled a bit of 60s squareness into the theme. What do you not like about it?

    6. Richard, it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just less impressive an achievement than the exterior. The basic forms and shapes are what you’d expect of an Alfa, but with no wit or imagination (I am thinking mainly of the dashboard here) and so it’s a bit of a pastiche to my mind. I remember sitting in one at the time as I was doing a compare with my Spec B Legacy. Maybe due to post-purchase bias, I remember concluding that I preferred the dash on the Legacy, partly as it was more ‘honest’, better integrated (Infotainment gubbins in particular),and far better built/ nicer materials – Subaru’s interiors have gone backwards since then, as well as the exterior styling. The Subaru was also cheaper and had a much nicer engine … but I digress. I also thought the centre stack and console between the seats were overlarge and bulky – like an ill-fitting suit. You did ask …

    1. I was thinking along the lines of a new Maserati Merak. They need something like that to counterbalance the Levante and Ghibli. Could the Alfa 4C serve as the basis?

      Perhaps its just as well Toyota dropped the MR2 ten years ago. Sergio might have done a deal with them to make a Dino from a re-engined and re-badged fifth or sixth generation MR2, then at the last minute decide that it will be a Fiat with an Abarth version. Or an Autobianchi . Or perhaps a Rambler AMX/3…

  3. In terms of the 159, I purchased a 2.2l ‘Lusso’ saloon in the looks alone. Now that the plans for a Giulia wagon have been thwarted by the Stelvio, I’m proposing to hold onto it. 111,000 fault free miles in 9 years to date

  4. Richard, no, I’ve always favoured the 4 door variant. Plus it had a tan interior which swung it really.

  5. Heh, heh. Great article and loved the snark. Now if Marchionne can just ditch FCA on the Chinese, and he’s only coyly waiting for an offer better than the first one at the moment, his life will turn into strawberries and cream. Big payout for him, the undying gratitude of the Agnellis for getting the company “out” while the going was good, and the freedom to then fiddle about with Ferrari to his heart’s content. A new line of black sweaters will shortly be on sale at Ferrari boutiques everywhere, the Prancing Horse logo its only decoration above an artist’s impression of the Dino. Just to keep ’em guessing.

  6. It’s a small, hard to reach standard unit situated behind the gear-lever. The lighter has never worked though.

    1. Oh, dear. This is quite common too. The ashtray gets obstructed by the gear lever and the actual tray is only 1/3rd as wide as the aperture.
      That said, you probably don’t use it.

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