By on September 27, 2013

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When it was first introduced, what we know today as the Ferrari Dino was a bit of a conundrum. Simultaneously a tribute to Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari, Enzo Ferrari’s beloved deceased son, the first roadgoing midengine car from Ferrari, and an attempt to amortize costs between Ferrari and Fiat, which had bought the sports car maker in 1969, the Dino was also the first non-V12 powered car made by Ferrari and in fact it was not originally sold as a Ferrari. Dino was supposed to be a new marque for six and eight cylinder cars from the company, at a lower price point than Ferrari branded cars. That idea went away after the Dino 308 models, but the notion that the Dino was not quite a Ferrari sort of stuck to the car when it first came out. That the Dino had a DOHC V6 engine, designed by Ferrari to compete in Formula 2 but originally built in a Fiat factory to homologate it and shared with the Fiat Dino, a completely different car with, confusingly, the same name, didn’t help matters. Dinos from Ferrari weren’t cheap, about $13,000-$14,000 when new four decades ago, thousands more than a Porsche 911, and if my memory serves me well, they languished on the dealer lots and then stagnated in price once out of production. In the late 1970s, I’m pretty sure you could get them for used car money. At least at first.

Today Dinos are welcome at any Ferrari meet and it could cost you the price of a new Ferrari California to buy a 1973 Dino 246. Hagerty Insurance’s price guide says that the average price of a 40 year old Dino 246 is $172,000.

I’m not here to talk about the Ferrari Dino, though.

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This post is sort of written from the perspective of an auto enthusiast in the year 2053, forty years hence and it’s about the new Alfa Romeo 4C, already evoking cackles in 2013 from Chris Harris and comparisons to Ferraris by Road & Track. The 4C is the cheapest car you can buy today with a carbon fiber structure, one of the things that’s going to limit production to just 3,000 units a year. Only a few more Ferrari Dinos were made in its full production run, 3,761, so Dinos will always be rarer than 4Cs. Still at a suggested retail U.S. price of $54,000, you could buy three 4Cs, and have about $41,000 left over for when you needed something more practical if you opted for Alfas rather than that Ferrari California, and you’d have at least 10 more cylinders than if you bought the California.

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I have a hunch that should Sergio Marchionne actually start selling the 4C in the U.S. next spring that in time it may become something akin what the Dino is today. While it may never have the cachet of being a Ferrari, I just don’t see with that carbon fiber tub how it’s going to depreciate the same as the cars that it will compete with, primarily the Porsche Cayman and perhaps the Evora from Lotus. The Cayman’s made in much greater volumes than the 4C is, and considering that the Evora is more costly, even Alfa Romeo probably has a better record on depreciation than Lotus.

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What do you think? Will the Alfa Romeo 4C be a potential blue chip collectible, like air-cooled Porsche 911s are these days? A 1973 Porsche 911S model averages just about $100K these days. That’s a nice appreciation in price, but a ’73 Dino has done even better.

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Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallac view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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29 Comments on “Will Auto Enthusiasts in 2053 See The Alfa Romeo 4C As This Generation’s Dino?...”


  • avatar
    mcs

    >> The 4C is the cheapest car you can buy today with a carbon fiber structure

    The i3 gets that title at $43k – $36k after subsidy.

    • 0 avatar
      TTAC Staff

      Thanks for posting that.

      A clarification. To be precise, neither of those cars is actually on sale today. The i3 is supposed to go on sale in November and there is an online configurator for the 4C that says that you can pre-order the car now. They just had the press launch for the 4C while the production i3 was only revealed for the first time at the recent Frankfurt show, so nobody outside of BMW has driven a production i3 while we’re already getting “first drive” press reports on the Alfa. If the TTAC Staff robot was capable of betting, it would probably bet that actually deliveries of the 4C will take place before the first i3 arrives at dealers.

      “Oh no, not the sand filled rubber hose again.”

      Thwack, Thwack!

      “Yes, Mr. Baruth. Just the facts.”

      Thwack, Thwack!

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The i3 is in production. So maybe it’s the cheapest CFRP car currently in volume production. There is an online configurator for i3 up as well It’s also on BMWs web sites – with the config on the German site. With the first deliveries about 7 weeks away, they are taking pre-orders for it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    It does appear to be a future classic. Shame about the dull sounding motor though. Symposer time!!!

  • avatar
    Viceroy_Fizzlebottom

    It’s crazy how much the Dino has shot up in value in the past 10 years or so. 10 years ago you could get one of those in good condition for around $40,000

  • avatar
    Morea

    4C the new Dino? Let’s hope not! Alfas are meant to be driven, Ferraris are meant to be polished. In 2053 I hope to see 4Cs on the road and on the track, not on the finely manicured lawn at some country club.

    • 0 avatar

      While the silver Dino above was photographed at the Concours of America, the red one is regularly driven by its owner, Kip Wasenko, a retired GM designer. Though I shot it at the GM Design employee’s car show held the week of the Dream Cruise, the first time that I saw the car and met Kip was when he was driving it up north Woodward on a summer night.

      I’m no fan of trailer queens either but there comes a point when your great great grandmother’s 18th century New England chair should no longer be used in the dining room. Historical relics need preservation. Speaking of preservation, I think the day is going to come when well preserved original condition survivors are worth as much or more than over restored cars. That’s how it is with furniture and many other fine collectibles. Sure, once it’s no longer original and partly trashed, send it to Rick’s Restorations (or someone who doesn’t charge three arms and two legs for apprentices’ work), but if it’s still original, keep that way and drive it just enough to keep all the seals and components healthy.

      • 0 avatar
        Morea

        I generally agree with you except on perhaps what constitutes an “historical relic”. Only cars with some special pedigree (racing success, one-of-a-kind design, famous ownership) are historical. Any mass produced vehicle (like the 4C or the Dino) doesn’t fit this standard in my view, YMMV.

        (Appropriately, we have great, great grandmother’s early 18th century rocker in our living room, but no one is allowed to sit on it!)

        • 0 avatar

          I share many of your sentiments about factory built goods. Guitar dealer George Gruhn, when I asked him about how collectible early Strats and Telecasters are, said that they were built on an assembly line by Mexican American women one piece at a time. Frankly, as a believer in property rights, if you own the Mona Lisa and want to paint a mustache on her, I think that’s your right to do so. A pity and a waste, but your right to do so. I’m sure a lot of folks feel the same way about custom cars.

          Everything, even ephemera, Model T, Camrys and trash, will eventually be a historical artifact. Archaeologists examining all eras love to dig in former outhouses and garbage dumps.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Kit designed the Alero. When my buddy sold Oldsmobiles, he mentioned how the dealership’s owner saw a lot of Dino in the Alero coupe’s hind quarter…

        Hmm…

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        What you describe already exists in the antique bicycle hobby. Patina is highly valued, and repainting is done only as an absolute last resort with the understanding that doing so is going to severely hurt the value of the item.

        It makes a restoration job a lot more interesting when you have to save all those old decals, work around them to get to the damaged surfaces, and not just take the easy route of bead blasting and repaint.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I too remember a time when the Dino was essentially cheap, cheap enough that I could have even afforded one if I stretched a lot. Oh the mistakes I made!

    So I would agree with you, the 4C is one of the most likely current model cars to become a true valuable classic. I seriously am considering one. I want a car I can keep for the next 20-30 yrs, to pass down to my kids. I can’t afford a Ferrari, my wife hates old Porsches, but she loves this car.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    I say that it will be this generation’s X1/9, but I say that as a compliment. The X1/9 was an innovative (I believe first production mid-engine transverse 4, the same layout as the 4C), desired car back in the day.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The X1/9 borrowed a lot from the 914 … which is definitely not as collectible as the Dino (though 914/6 models do have significant collector value).

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The 914 had a four cylinder engine, but a flat four mounted longitudinally. Using the transverse inline-4 from a front wheel drive car was a major innovation, and laid the ground for the Fiero, MR-2, Elise and this 4C. The structural use of fiber reinforced plastic in the 4C is not that revolutionary. The Lotus Elite had a fiber reinforced plastic chassis back in 1958.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I know that I’m a fool to say this, but I’d rather spend my $54K on a C7 Corvette Stingray, and run it hard. It will depreciate away to practically nothing – and my life will be richer for not having to pamper a drivers car so that it could someday appreciate.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Car and Driver is predicting that the actual weight of this car in the American market will be a porkier 2,650 pounds, which is subject of course to upward revision. Quite a bit heavier than TTAC’s assertion of 2,000 pounds. And C & D furthermore has the horsepower at a popcorn fart of 237 horses, not 240 as TTAC asserts. And that is accomplished with over 21 psi at the turbo, which is extremely scary if you are concerned about any sort of reliability. Based on these rather scandalous revisions, I predict that not one single Alfa will be sold at the predicted price of $54,000.

    Hopefully, TTAC will delve into the above discrepencies (rather than just copying Alfa’s breathless press releases word for word), and if they are true, correct the record.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “And that is accomplished with over 21 psi at the turbo, which is extremely scary if you are concerned about any sort of reliability.”

      The Alfa has basically the same specific output as an Audi TT Quattro from 2001. 1.8 turbo, 225 hp. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My FIAT Abarth has 160hp out of 1.4L, also with 21lbs of boost stock. I’m not worried about it.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Well… The carbon fiber body won’t rust and can be repaired (expensive, but possible). The simplicity of the car will mean easy maintenance. So long as Fiat supplies a motor for this car it should be around for quite a while. Limited production will mean the car is going to be rare and so, yes, I think they will be valuable in 40 years time.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    SCANDAL!!!!

    Motor Trend’s Johny Lieberman (and ex-TTAC staffer) on the raft of clever lies Alfa has employed to launch this car, and which TTAC swallowed hook line and sinker:

    “…….the new 4C is principally light, though not quite as light as Alfa is claiming. Italian carmakers have this horrible habit of weighing cars without certain fluids—oil, gas, coolant, transmission and brake. They also tend to leave out airbags. The result is a meaningless number they call “dry weight.” Alfa claims the U.S.-spec 4C will weigh 2083 pounds (the Euro version will weigh about 100 pounds less because of no side or knee airbags, no A/C, and a fixed, non-sliding passenger seat). I’m here to tell you that the 4C’s actual weight is going to be closer to 2500 pounds, if not more. Alfa’s number is pure fantasy……”

    I’m sure looking forward to TODAY’s condescending lecture on the importance of power to weight ratios!

    • 0 avatar

      TTAC has mentioned the published weight of the 4C exactly once, in a post by Derek and that’s been revised to reflect the fact that the published weight is “dry weight”. We weren’t at that launch so we have to rely on published figures. As you can see, when we become aware of inaccuracies, we correct them.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    This deserves much much more than just a “revision” to reflect the “dry weight” of this car, without another “revision” to explain both “dry weight” (i.e. a car that could never be started, let alone driven in that shape) and the huge amount of weight that must be added on for an American versus European version.

    I am guessing, based on my own unfortunate personal experience with Alfas (“nothing is at it appears to be at first”) that this car, once the American safety and environment Nazis finish with it, is going to weigh all of 3,000 pounds wet and ready to drive, have about 10 or 15 less horsepower than claimed and cost about $75,000 in the real world.

    I have no doubt, they will sell every one of these they can produce. Nobody remembers the last time Alfa abruptly fled in the night from this market (TTAC focuses obsessively only on the misdeeds of GM), leaving their customers and dealers holding a great big bag of sh!t.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Larry, what is your problem? You seem to have a serious bug up your buttocks about a car that doesn’t even really exist yet. If you don’t like it, buy something else!

      You are getting quite tiresome. We get it, you owned an Alfa 20 years ago and it slapped your mother or something. Get over it.

  • avatar
    Paul K

    The Dino was NOT the “first non-v12 powered Ferrari.” Just the first built strictly for road use.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    You do not have a problem with a car company wilfully and fraudulently misrepresenting the weight of a car, and an autoblog that purports to be “The Truth About Cars” being shown up by the likes of Car and Driver and Motor Trend (which TTAC has vigorously disparaged as “old school car journalism)?

  • avatar

    Aside from all the bickering about weight of the car, I think that this car does have what it takes be a desirable future collectable. What is being overlooked here, IMO, is that there is some great stuff with this car that should have all enthusiasts excited. The mass use of Carbon Fibre in a “relatively” inexpensive car (when you consider other alternatives), the return of Alfa to the US in larger quantities than the SEXY 8C.

    When people talk about how Alfa pulled out of the US, we need to understand it was a different time. Are we going to be this bitter if any other marque wants to reenter the US market?

    Now onto the weight, even if this car weighs 2500 lbs in ready to drive trim, compare to many other cars on the road, that’s still light by todays standards. If the Italians use “dry” weight then who cares. The Europeans use different HP/Torque measuring standards, and they have different fuel economy standards, are we going to sit here and complain about that for hours on end? In the end, if you don’t like this car, and you have the money to buy one, DON’T BUY ONE, that simple.

  • avatar
    GTAm

    Yes I believe the 4C will become a highly sort after classic, no doubt about it. Will it be as sort after as a Dino in 40 years. Possible. Despite it being produced in much greater numbers, consider also how much the global car industry has grown….. There is bound to be more collectors in 2053 than 2013.
    At this price, the 4C is a most accessible Italian exotic sports car. Ferrari sells around 8000+ cars a year. How many more people would like to have been able to afford one. Many more I believe.

    The Dino engine was a watered down race engine. And the 4C engine has no race pedigree (There’s talk of a Trofeo series and that might spawn a GTA). However the later 246 had a not very exotic cast iron block that found its way into a couple of Fiats as opposed to the 4C’s all alloy unit. The sum totals of the pros and cons are evenly matched until you factor in the brand reputations in today’s context. Ferrari is at the top of the tree and Alfa at the bottom except for the relatively few Alfisti around the world. Alfa Romeo certainly has its work cut out but the 4C seems to be a brilliant start!


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