Then And Now, Again

I have always thought that a sports car should resemble a woman lying on her side: the front-wheel arches resembling the shoulders, the middle of the car falling away like the midsection, and the (larger) rear-wheel arches mimicking the swell of the hips.

Hence the beauty of Ferrari’s Dino 246 GT, my love for which has been well documented on these pages, and which resembles the slender female models of its era in the early 1970s:

What then, do we make of Ferrari’s new Portofino, which replaces the superb California?

Here’s what I see: it looks block-y and more muscular — more like a model who’s been working out in the gym who should look something like this:

…except that the Portfino doesn’t look like that either.

I know, I know: so much of today’s automotive design is shaped by what works in a wind tunnel as opposed to actual, you know, beauty. But Ferrari, at least until recently, seems to have been keeping the old proportions alive — which is why their cars have typically looked better than anyone else’s. I’m just not so sure about the Portofino.

(Please note that I’m only comparing the designs — the Portofino’s top speed of 198 mph dwarfs the Dino’s 145 mph.)

Update:  Reader askeptic points out that Ferrari, or at least their ad agency, used to share my sentiments. Note the ad from a later era:

Wrong Ferrari, however: the 308 looked like Twiggy, not Veruschka.



  1. I’m with you on concept, but the hog jaw bumper has to go. Try this:
    All curves, in every plane.

    Too many cars now look like they’ve been styled with the back of a shovel and a hatchet. The sharp corners, contrived slashes and bulges, scowling visages, squashed rooflines with slit-like windows more suited for gun ports, all make me think the designers have seen Dune or Mad Max too many times. I’m dreading having to shop for a new ride.

    1. Kim:
      Thank You for posting “Decisions, Decisions” in all of its glory – a task beyond my humble fingers BTW.
      Now, about the 308, you have to realize what restrictions we were operating under in the late 70’s – early ’80’s when it came to suitable road cars from Maranello (thanks, Ralph Nader).
      As it was, the GTB shown was one of the best, far better than the GTS, as it didn’t leak. We always thought that the GTS was curious for Magnum P.I., but then realized that they never had the top up so Tom wouldn’t get a crick in his neck.
      And, I agree about the California: It might not be as track-ready as the original, but it isn’t as brutal or fussy either.

  2. Superb? The California is the biggest turkey they’ve made since the Mondial. If you must have a new Ferrari, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to, the 488 is the one to buy.

    That said, if you’re buying it for looks, by all means get the Dino, or a 308/328/355. The latter being about the best all-rounder out there.

    1. Eye of the beholder, O Leonine One. I think the California T is lovely because it’s not a track car, but a tourer.

      1. That’s what the F12 is for.

        The Cali isn’t just a terrible track car, it’s a terrible car period, especially at the price point. Every time Ferrari tries to make a “cheap” car, with the exception of the Dino, they make an utter hash of it.

  3. Re: the Dino 246 GT, I had the misfortune of trying to race one back in the early ’70s. I was young(strike one), and this thing came buzzing by, looking like a VW with a kit body, and I didn’t think to check if it was anything else(strike two). Since I was driving a 425ci Oldsmobile, my honor was at stake, and I floored it(strike three). I got close enough to see the word Dino on the back, and then the pilot of this force of nature engaged Warp Drive and it was gone! I mentioned this ignominious defeat to my father later on. He told me what had cratered my Olds that day. In fact, the car belonged to his cardiologist, and I got to see it up close, in the parking lot.
    And that’s as close as I ever got to that car. It was also the last time I put any of my cars up against anything on the road.
    Stay safe.

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