In the 10 years from 1961 to 1971, just four Ferraris were road tested by Autocar.
We still drove them, of course - through back-alley sources and customers alike - but Ferrari officials were at that time notoriously against letting the press fully test their vehicles.
So the chance to spend the weekend in a Dino 246 GT was met with great enthusiasm, particularly by Geoffrey Howard, who managed to squeeze 500 miles into his two-day test.
“It is a hard thing,” wrote Howard “to describe the exact feeling of anticipation one goes through when approaching a car like this for the first time.
“The shape alone is beautiful to the point of being probably the greatest thing that Pininfarina ever did.”
The 4ft-tall Dino was powered by a V6 engine developing 195bhp, with its engine producing “a completely unique musical note” from the off. Howard reports that the car pulled cleanly to its peak revs, taking him to 140mph - only 5mph short of the car’s official 145mph top speed.
At 1219kg, the Dino seems to be a relatively heavy car. “It is more than you expect,” Howard notes, “until you realise that the body is steel and the car is nearly 14ft long and 5ft 7in wide.
“For a sports car the ride on the Dino is excellent. Huge wheel arches allow sufficient suspension movement for quite soft but well-damped absorption over bumps,” says Howard, adding that he “more or less” stuck to the 70mph speed limit during his trip.
Although thirsty - the Dino recorded just 19mpg during Howard’s run - the £5486 car found itself worthy of high praise. “It is very hard to fault a car of this calibre,” says Howard, “like one who can rarely see the failings in the woman one loves.
“Few of its competitors can match its nimbleness, precision and looks, and even fewer are such an exhilarating and exuberant thrill to drive.”
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