Straight away you realize something’s a bit different about this Dino. The wheels are beefier, the arches are angrier, the sound it makes doesn’t sync with your memory of these cars (probably because there are two extra intake trumpets underneath the transparent engine cover), and while the badging looks factory-correct, you don’t think there was ever an Evo version of the mid-engined sports car named after Enzo’s tragic son.
The car is a one-off, and it’s part of the venerable collection of classic and modern Ferraris owned by collector David Lee. By borrowing a block from the F40, losing the turbos, boring it from 2.9 to 3.6L, and fixing twin banks of velocity stacks, his “Monza 3.6 Evo” is a naturally-aspirated screamer, a beautiful amalgamation of Ferrari parts and purposes that doesn’t sound like it would work on paper but pulls off the trick soundly in practice. Imagine if someone told you he wanted to put a V8 in a Dino, throw some 17” wheels on it (they were originally 14”), and call it an Evo. It might sound like the start to a bad project the best outcome of which would be incompletion so someone could restore it “properly.”
When David first acquired this Dino—a 1972 246 GTS—he was always going to restore the car, but seeing as his collection already had its Dino quotient taken care of, and plenty of things that are exceedingly rare but maybe not one-of-ones, he decided to build something unique instead of just another well sorted top-dollar re-do of what the factory built in the ‘70s already. That said, he was adamant that the car should be something built in the vein of how the engineers in Maranello would have approached such a project.
Now complete, the result speaks for itself, and even the comparatively massive wheels don’t look out of place thanks to the car’s aggressive stance and the extra fender space; it’s a complete package, not just a hot rod that’s been hacked together and coaxed into being with zip ties and shortcuts. If you took some photos and artificially aged them you might think this was some kind of abandoned Group 2 motorsport project from the ETCC of the era.
Rip some weight out of it and put some slicks on it and you’d be halfway there, but this is no rough race car. With significantly larger Brembos in place of the original brakes, multi-way adjustable Koni suspension, a five-speed synchromesh dogleg gearbox from a 328, and of course that free-revving F40-based V8, David’s Monza 3.6 Evo is an unbeatably entertaining canyon weapon that comes with the benefit of modernized mechanicals and reliability.
A delightful brew of ‘70s and ‘80s Ferrari style and engineering, this kind of quality in a build is the result of much trial and error on the way to getting it just right—that comes with the territory of doing something new—but it wouldn’t have happened without the will to go through that process in the first place. It’s daunting, its end point is uncertain, but in this case David and the team that made his vision into a street legal reality succeeded and were rewarded with something that was worth the effort. It’s been 50 years since the Dino debuted, and we’d like to think this car would make its namesake smile just a bit wider if he could see just how far his ideas have come.