Attractive opposites - unpacking the Lamborghini Islero S and the Ferrari 246 Dino GT
10 February 2021
by Davide De Giorgi
Hailing from an exciting period of technological change, the 1972 Ferrari 246 Dino GT and the 1969 Lamborghini Islero S we’re offering for sale represent the first and last of their respective decades and genres. Girardo & Co. resident Italian specialist Davide De Giorgi makes his case for these attractive opposites...
To my eyes, these two cars are equally beautiful. But spiritually speaking, they’re the antithesis of each other.
The Islero is the culmination of the 1960s Gran Turismo – Ferruccio Lamborghini’s way of sticking it to the motorsport man and showing that his wasn’t a racing car company. The Dino, on the other hand, was Enzo Ferrari cashing in on his marque’s racing pedigree and inviting the world to embrace the technological change he’d so vehemently opposed: mounting the engine in the middle.
“The Islero is the culmination of the 1960s Gran Turismo – Ferruccio Lamborghini’s way of sticking it to the motorsport man and showing that his wasn’t a racing car company.”
You only need to sit in a Dino to realise what a magical little sports car it is. The seats are so small and delicate yet so comfortable. The driving position is great (it’s a Ferrari that doesn’t suffer from being right-hand drive) and the gear level falls to hand beautifully.
The dash is clear and well designed, though it’s what greets you ahead of it, through that magnificent curved windscreen, that makes the biggest impression. I’d happily stare at those two voluptuous curves that crest the wheels and taper away to the nose all day long. For me, they lend the Dino a Le Mans-esque P-car appeal.
My other favourite thing about the Dino is the way the rear haunch of the body almost merges into the structure of the car – you can see how the panel continues through the glass. It’s as though you could simply remove the roof and you’d already have the most beautiful roadster shape. It’s a magnificent design touch and a stroke of genius on Aldo Brovarone’s part. Of course, the curved rear screen is also an object of sheer beauty.
From a design point of view, the Lamborghini Islero is an entirely different proposition. Where the diminutive, dainty proportions of the Dino lend it an air of youth and spriteliness, the grand and imposing Islero sends a different message. It could only be a twelve cylinder.
It’s amazing to think that this body was built by Marazzi, the same Carrozzeria responsible for the dizzyingly beautiful mid-engined Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale. While it boasted sharper creases, in line with the changing aesthetic trends of the time, it was still a quintessential 1960s Gran Turismo, with body as full as a vintage Bordeaux topped with a canopy as light as a crisp champagne.
The pillars are so thin that, from afar, the Islero could be mistaken for a convertible. As you can imagine, the all-round visibility from inside is fantastic as a result. Can we talk about that fantastic leather and velour interior? The big cushioned chairs look like they came from a aristocrat’s drawing room, and the clarity and layout of the wooden dash coupled with the height of the transmission tunnel signal the minimal amount of effort required to drive the car over long distances.
There are shades of the mighty Miura, too, such as the Ducellier window switches. And the stunning cast alloy wheels, of course.
“The Ferrari Dino was for the 30-something who’d come into money and wanted to make a serious statement.”
So, who was buying these cars new and who is buying them now? In 1969, the Lamborghini Islero was a car for an Italian head of industry, who’d cruise fuss-free from Bologna to Milan at 2,500rpm. The Dino, on the other hand, was for the 30-something who’d come into money and wanted to make a statement.
While it’s a car that is good at long-distance touring, the Dino really excels on a weekend blast up into the Alps – preferably with a pretty lady alongside.
Today, both of these Italian cars are incredibly desirable, but they still do serve different purposes. A good Dino such as this three-owner, Classiche-certified 246 GT is a car to be driven and enjoyed and shared. The Islero is for the collector who’s ticked all the boxes and is bored of showing up at an event in something that’s already there.
For me, it’s more special than its front-engined Prancing Horse-badged contemporaries. People who want to buy a Ferrari are happy to park and look back at a Ferrari. But many others have been there and done that. For the money, you can show up in this lesser-seen Raging Bull that will be more of a conversation starter guaranteed.
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