Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Ferrari Dino

In London yesterday for the best day of the year so far - warm and sunny under a vanilla sky.

Near London Bridge, a Ferrari Dino 246 GT slides into view, unusual silver paintwork glistening in the sunshine. I stroll closer, hoping the lights won't change before I get close enough to really hear it set off.

It does so, but quickly pulls in to the side and the driver, young and self-conscious doesn't realise it's still in gear as he stops and it leaps forward a foot or so. Mechnical problems? Clutch trouble?

I don't think so. For some reason every 1960s and 70s sportscar I've ever driven has always been a complete swine to drive in cities. It's something about the really heavy clutch action, the heavy steering, the obstructive gearchange, the lousy view, the plug fouling and the stares from everyone that conspire against you, at least for the first few miles.

The modern ones are much easier, but the lovely feline bitchy nastiness has all but gone.

The Dino has that bitchy quality in spades, but it's also tiny, very low and exquisite, even if the build-quality is no better than a 1960s Fiat, which is something to ponder in a vehicle that does nearly 150 mph with only partially understood areodynamics...

None the less, 33 years after production ceased, it's still the most beautiful and charismatic car ever made - you've got to see those complex curves in 3-D to fully appreciate the brilliance of Pininfarina's finest work. Posted by Hello



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