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Estate Sale: 1972 Fiat Dino Coupe Project

Sadly, our next car has been sitting for almost two years since Jeff Lavery last covered it here on Barn Finds. Now on craigslist with an asking price of $8500 and located in upstate New York, this 1972 Fiat Dino coupe remains engine-less, transmission-less, and surrounded by snow. So why care about a weather-bound wreck that’s been for sale for two years? Because, in about 1966, the Fiat Dino was very important to Enzo Ferrari – so important that it was his engine that powered it. Not only did it bear a famous engine, it helped provoke a thought process that changed the way Ferraris were built. Tommy T-Tops found this Fiat Dino for us – thanks Tommy!

The tale of the engine missing from this cavity – like so many great Italian car stories – starts with Enzo Ferrari and engineer Vittorio Jano. In the mid-1950s, Jano and Enzo’s son, Dino, convinced the boss that Ferrari should develop a V6 to race in Formula 2. After a nod from Papa, Jano created a 65-degree V6. Unfortunately, Dino died in 1956 before he could even hear the new engine run. In his honor, Enzo decided that every car with a V6 should be called “Dino” – effectively creating a sub-brand for Ferrari. Beginning with the 1957 Dino 156, the new engine was used exclusively for racing. But in 1965, the FIA changed F2 rules to require that engines be homologated in at least 500 road cars. Ferrari was not able to produce that many cars quickly, but Fiat was available and wanted an upmarket sports car – a perfect match. Through this collaboration, two Fiat Dinos were created – a Spider by Pininfarina, and a coupe by Bertone. Early cars received the 2.0 liter V6; later Dinos utilized the 2.4 liter version. Both were conventional front-engined cars. Meanwhile, Enzo noticed the mounting success of mid-engined race cars, defying his belief that “the horse pulls the cart.” With the compact V6 in hand, one of the most famous of all Ferraris was eventually produced – the Dino 206 GT, and later, its sibling the Dino 246 GT. This worked perfectly: to allow the pedestrian Fiat to construct a front-engined car, while Ferrari inaugurated a mid-engine beauty.

Of course, with the Dino engine and five-speed transmission missing, what we have left is Fiat. That said, the trim level on the Bertone coupe was a step above the typical Fiat, and much above that of the Spider. This interior looks complete, with trim, handles, and accessories intact. The instrument panel is surprisingly good, and that steering wheel is the factory original – no longer so easy to find. The seating material is rather awful, but presumably, the frames and sliders are good.

The trunk is at least dry if not very clean. Luckily for the seller, the last couple of years have been kinder to values than the elements have treated this Fiat Dino, with coupe prices rising sharply. Hagerty notes that “fair” examples are worth about $30k though of course that would include the engine. Good quality coupes now sell between $50k and $70k; just five years ago, 2.4-liter cars were selling around $20k. The rising tide effectively increases prices for even the rattiest examples – because the parts are useful for someone’s restoration. I think this car could find a home for around $5000; what do you think?


  1. HoA Howard A Member

    I actually got a ride in a Dino Fiat once. I beg to differ, even with the drivetrain missing, tis’ no Fiat. None I can remember, anyway. The drivetrain is however what this car was all about. Back in the 70s, my then gf had some friends who the guy was a salesperson for a Fiat( and others) dealer. They got a Dino Fiat in on a trade, yeah, can you imagine what would they be trading for? Same place that had the Multipla, a complete 180 from this car. He said let’s go for a ride. It, (both Dino and Multipla) were rides I’ll never forget. The Dino was the motor, sung like Aretha Franklin, and shifting was like butter. What I remember most was the brake smell, as going through the gears, 100 mph was no problem. Again, best darn Fiat I ever rode in.
    This? There is merit to without the drivetrain, it is more or less a Fiat. I suppose you could drop a hemi in there, but where’s the fun in that? Sourcing a drivetrain would be out of the question for many, unless you just happen to have one laying around. A used V6 and trans on BaT sold for $8600, condition unknown. It was a very cool car.

    Like 12
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    A car with no drive train and 80 percent visible rust (no telling what’s underneath) isn’t worth any $8500 or $5000. If it’s all that special why is it sitting outside in the snow with such a ridiculous asking price? Gets a spot on the “you’ve got to be kidding” list for December.

    Like 30
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      It was bid to $5000 when Jeff covered it last time. That’s probably close to market.

      Incidentally, while I was writing the article, the seller dropped the price from $8999 to $8500. Maybe Someone is saying, you get that dang thing out of our driveway or ELSE!

      Like 8
    • James Pickard Member

      I agree. $5g,’s seems ridiculous but …that probably what it’s worth. The $1,000 junkyard specials are still out there but VERY difficult to find and usually a buddy deal.

      Like 2
      • TomP

        $1000? Hmm thats funny, the previous time is was on *bay it was bid up to $11,000. It’s worth alot more than $5k.

        Like 1
  3. Frank Sumatra

    All I can say is I hope you didn’t blow “Tommy T-Tops” cover. He obviously is/was in the Federal witness protection program.

    Like 6
  4. Martin Horrocks

    Good report Michelle. You explain with clear authority. This is one of my favourite cars, from a period when FIAT made some of the best cars in Europe.

    If anyone takes this on, does it matter if they pay $5K or $8.5K? There’s along expensive road ahead, which may mean that sourcing original engine & box is the only paying proposition.

    But a Busso V6 could be a reasonable substitute in the meantime.

    Like 9
    • SubGothius

      The challenge with a Busso V6 swap would be mating it to a suitable transmission.

      AFAIK, all Alfa models using that V6 in RWD configuration were derivatives of the Alfetta platform, which had a rear transaxle, so I think those engines may not have any provision to bolt a bellhousing to the block.

      Later Alfa models (and some related Fiat/Lancia platform-mates) used the V6 in a transverse FWD configuration, so while those did have a transmission bolted to the block, I don’t know if that bolt pattern would match a bellhousing for any suitable RWD transmission.

      Like 5
      • Martin Horrocks

        I think the original debut Busso Alfa 6 did not have the transaxle rear end. OK, good luck finding one of those….but if you did…

        I’d also start looking at ZF stuff . I think Maserati Bi-turbo could yield something.

        But I’m not doing either!

        Like 2
  5. G Lo

    I would rat-rod this one or maybe resto-mod it, if it’s structurally sound. Maybe use a modern alfa v6 for the restomod or maybe the V6 out of a Cadillac for the rat approach. Clean the surface rust up top, prime it, wrap it, update wheels/tires/brakes and call it done.

    Like 2
  6. Troy

    $8500 seems high for a roller however I’m not familiar with these cars or their history of influence on more modern cars I do look at it and think what engine and transmission can I cram in there and go have some fun with the street racing crowd.

    Like 1
  7. Rallye Member

    2 things
    First, the motor that’s not here is, I think the best sounding V6 ever. Listen to a 206GT racecar.
    I almost bought a Fiat like this from a Citroen purvey in PA. Till he told me the bent valves were no problem. Chuck em in a lathe and move the tool holder up to the valve head while heating stem with a torch.

    Like 7
  8. John

    As has already been said, without its powertrain, it’s just another rusty Fiat. I cannot imagine that one could be found, anywhere. Sad.

    Like 2
  9. Big C

    This thing cries out for a 2.3 liter Ford swap. Boneyards are full of them.

    Like 3
    • chrlsful

      yup, Kent or Lima efi. Turbo?.
      Then what 5 speed transmis, eh?
      I’d hafta do research, then swallow
      hard @ the reserve. 1/2 that and I’d
      B doin the research now. Shine it on,
      cept ta keep’n I got too many now as it is~

      Like 0
  10. BA

    Undoubtedly that Dino V6 was placed in a Lancia Stratos Hi Fi & made a rally car for the ages ! The bark of the 2.4 was like no other in full race guise. Ahh the good old days.

    Like 3
    • Rallye Member

      Hmmm, Stratos is still on my list of really wanna drive one.

      Like 4
    • jwaltb


      Like 0
  11. FOG

    Great write up! Worked at independent foreign car shop in South Florida during the “Miami Vice” era. Their were two customers who had maintence work done on those Fiat Dinos. Yes, test drove these amazing little masterpieces. Never forgot the experience.

    Like 6
  12. Den Micke

    Perhaps a Subaru 4WD entire drive system transplant?

    Like 1
  13. Classics & Cabriolets Member

    They have really increased in value over the last few years. The last Red 2.4 we had from Italy at Classics & Cabriolets sold in 2019 to a customer in Florida for over £65K. We have just brought over from Italy another 2.4 which is in a classic period colour of Dark Metallic Brown which is priced at £77K.

    Like 3
  14. gippy

    Was never an attractive car to begin with- nearly a clone of a Chevy Vega. No one at cars and coffee will take a second look regardless of what’s under the hood.

    Like 2
    • Rallye Member

      I don’t see much similarity besides both are 2 dr fastback.

      Like 3
    • jwaltb

      Keep looking.

      Like 1
  15. Stephen Coe

    Does anyone know where a drive train could be found? & at what price. Does the owner know what happened to the engine? The town he lives in is likley after him to clear his property of this heap. Very sad its $800 without a driveline.

    Like 1
  16. Steve Mehl

    First a $700,000,000 contract to a Japanese pitcher to play for the Dodgers and then Blue Jays matching that offer. I put this $8,500 asking price for this rusted Vega look alike shell in the same category of that MLB contract offer. Both showing how insane the world currently is. That piece of junk will end up in a junkyard crusher before the owner ever sees anything near $8,500.

    Like 3
  17. Steve Mehl

    I took another look at this car and all I could see was a resemblance to the Chevy Vega and the Chevy Nova. Vega styling was pretty cool, but Nova is one of the ugliest GM designs ever.

    Like 0
  18. Rufus

    Back in the mid-80’s I ran a collectible auto operation in DFW, and we had a Dino. I drove it a couple of times and did not fall in love. It felt flimsy, and over-stressed. It took me about a year to find a new home for it, and the profit margin was in the single digits. No one in the hobby has been more surprised to see these cars become collectible than I have been. There are few cars out there that I just don’t care for, but the Fiat Dino is one of them.

    Like 1
  19. wjtinfwb

    Hmmm. Wish I was a great machinist/mechanic! Too bad the Ferrari V6 is missing, but there are some great alternatives; a Ford “Cyclone” V6/Manual trans combo out of a Mustang would seem possible and provide near 300 horses. Same with a GM 3.6L but that looks like a physically larger engine and might be problematic. Sweet car otherwise but hard to see how if makes financial sense to try and source a Dino V6/trans combo and restore the body/chassis as well.

    Like 1
  20. Elbert Hubbard

    Does the seller throw in a few cans of Rust-Oleum at $8,500.00? I think the engine is probably being used as a boat anchor somewhere nearby in upstate NY. Good luck on this one :-)

    Like 2
  21. TomP

    OMG, This is the cheapest classic Italian exotic car I’ve ever seen. Like someone said earlier, the prices of these cars is skyrocketing, I’m surprised no one bought it yet in any condition. The convertible Dino, 206, 246 and Lancia Stratos have already reached untouchable prices, this car is shooting up right behind them. A true Italian car enthusiast would be crazy not to jump on this one. If anyone here buys it, let me know, I know where there are 5 correct Dino engines/transmissions for this car, in varying states of condition.

    Like 3
  22. Araknid78

    I think Bertone did a better job with the coupe than Pininfarina did with the Spider. I did find someone who cut the top off a coupe to make a convertible. Now that was one pretty car. I also ran across someone who transplanted a 2.0 litre 124 motor in one of these. Didn’t have ‘the’ sound, but was pretty tractable nonetheless.

    Like 0

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