It’s often said that a car is an extension of, or reflects, its owner’s personality. That’s probably why so many people like to personalize their cars, stamping their mark on them and making them stand out from the crowd. No surprise, then, that there’s a huge accessory market out there for fancy wheels, loud exhausts, body kits, spoilers, go-faster stripes, window tints, vinyl wrap, or even fuzzy dice to hang from the rearview mirror.
The owner of our featured 1973 Dino 246 GT, Peter Reeves, sings from another hymn sheet altogether. The reason his Dino caught my eye at an Italian car show held at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu is that it flies below the radar—at least as much as this drop-dead gorgeous machine can. This 246 is absolutely bog standard, and doesn’t even bear the Ferrari emblems or Prancing Horse badges that so many Dinos erroneously do.
Reeves, who lives in the southeast of England, has made his car as close to original Ferrari factory specification as he can. He is—and I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this—obsessed with originality. That’s not to say this 246 is totally original, because it isn’t; it’s been restored at least twice. However, the most recent restoration, carried out by Reeves himself in his home garage between 2017 and 2020, has corrected many things that had been previously done, not necessarily badly, but incorrectly. It was a real labor of love, but a nut-and-bolt restoration definitely wasn’t the goal when he started out.
WHEN NEW, this Rosso Chiaro Dino (s/n 06766) with Nero plastica seats and Nero carpets was delivered to U.K. Ferrari importer Maranello Concessionaires. A Ferrari invoice dated July 12, 1973 charges £4,370 for the car plus an extra £96 for electric windows.
The Dino was then promptly shipped to Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. There, Maranello Concessionaires’ agent, Henry Linton Cars, handed over the keys to its first owner, a Mr. Bryant of St. Hellier. Bryant, who registered it as J3371, later sold the car to one Mr. N.M. Jagger, who subsequently shipped it back to England and, in July 1980, re-registered it on his private number plate, NJO 10. The car still wears this number today.
In March 1984, the Ferrari was sold to one Mr. S. Remmington of London, who commissioned Moto Technique, a London-based Dino and Daytona specialist, to carry out some repairs and restoration work. It soon became apparent that Jersey’s salt air had wreaked havoc on the Italian steel. Maybe the scale and cost of the work was too much to bear, but halfway through the restoration, in April 1986, the Dino was sold once again, this time to a Mr. Roger Daltrey. Yes, that Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who.
Daltrey had bought a new red Dino in 1973, but only kept it a year. (Fellow band member, wild-man drummer Keith Moon, also owned a ’72 Dino at the time, but it was apparently totalled by someone he lent it to.) Why he bought a halfway-restored Dino rather than a mint low-miler or an already restored example is anyone’s guess, especially since photographs and invoices held by Reeves show that most of the bottom 12 inches of metal, along with the door skins, had to be replaced. The car was then treated to a high-quality, bare-metal respray.
Daltrey also had the vinyl seats re-trimmed in black leather, new carpets and headlining installed, and the dashboard recovered in suede. He kept the Dino for 11 years, at which point the current owner comes into the picture.
“My wife Tina and I lived in Virginia Water, which is close to Maranello Concessionaires,” says Reeves. “One day in 1997 I popped in and they had this Dino for sale. Tina has loved them since first seeing one when she was a teenager, although I never thought we could actually own one. It was being sold on consignment and the salesman let it slip that it belonged to Roger Daltrey.
“As it happened, I knew Roger’s son Simon through our shared interest in motorcycles,” he continues. “I let him know that we had seen the car and he told Roger, who was furious that Maranello had mentioned his name in trying to sell it. The upshot was that Roger sold it to us for the price he was expecting to get from them!
“So now we were the proud owners of a 30,000-mile Dino, but we were actually scared to use it,” admits Reeves. “We were always frightened that something would go wrong and we couldn’t fix it, or would have to get another mortgage to fix it. In the few dealings I’d had with car specialists, the problem was always more major than you thought it was and it was always significantly more expensive than expected. So we just took it out occasionally on sunny days and to the odd car show. Time trundled on and I carried on restoring motorcycles.”
Reeves loves old American motorcycles—Harley-Davidson, Henderson, Ace, Indian, and so on—so much so that he’s on the committee of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America.
“I go to the States three or four times a year to judge,” he explains. “My interest is in restoring things to how they left the factory, not shinier or making improvements so that they are better than factory spec—so no replacing factory bolts with stainless-steel ones and no polishing of parts that were never polished. I spend a lot of time doing research and looking at unrestored examples.”
Just before the Covid pandemic began, Reeves retired from his swimming pool maintenance and repair business, handing over the reins to his children. As a retirement pro-ject, he bought a 1966 Series 1 E Type Jaguar and started stripping it down to restore.
Meanwhile, on one of his rare outings in the Dino, Reeves drove it to an Italian car show at the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit. Then, on his way home, the 246 started overheating and spewing water.
“I thought that the head gasket had blown,” he says. “Because of my experience with motorcycles and restoring a Triumph Stag about 30 years earlier, I had become a lot more confident about tackling things, so I decided to attempt to fix the head gasket myself.”
It’s worth mentioning that Reeves is a completely self-taught mechanic. The only formal training he received was an apprenticeship with a natural-gas supplier as a technician.
“But I was always trying to mend and adapt things,” he notes. “So I maintained and repaired my motorcycles, and then my cars.”
After the decision was made to dig into the engine, the pro-ject began to snowball. Reeves first removed the 2.4-liter V6, because he couldn’t access the cylinder head next to the passenger compartment with the engine in situ. Then, since the engine was out of the car, he decided to tidy up the engine bay. And while the Dino’s paint and interior looked good, he spotted some corroded rivets on a fiberglass undertray.
“I thought I’d take it off and redo them,” he explains. “But then I found some corrosion on the bracketry on the main space frame.”
One thing led to another and, before he knew it, Reeves was heading towards a full-on restoration.
“Well, if I was going to do it, I would restore it like my bikes, just as it was when it left the factory,” he decided. “When I dismantled it, I took great care in examining every part and noting what the original finish was. For example, you had different colors on the fixings—cadmium or zinc—so I tried to replicate the original finish. I applied the same standard as if I was restoring for the Antique Motorcycle Club of America judging system.”
REEVES INITIALLY FOCUSED HIS ATTENTION on the Dino’s engine. He was relieved to find there was nothing particularly exotic about the V6 and that his initial diagnosis was correct.
“When I took off the aluminum heads, I discovered that one of them had a corrosion hole between two of the ports, which had rotted the side of the head gasket,” he says. “There was no sign of corrosion anywhere else. Normally you would have it TIG-welded, but I was worried about distorting the head. So I found a specialist who could laser-weld it; with that, there is next to no heat to the surrounding areas and no distortion. Because it’s an overhead cam engine, if the head distorts you then have to line-bore the camshaft, and it becomes a major job.”
Reeves tore down the rest of the engine to its last component and checked everything. Since most items were still within tolerance, he simply reassembled the engine with new seals, only changing those things that were worn out.
“It’s still on its original pistons,” he notes. “A specialist would have probably said to put modern valves in it or something, but I didn’t do that. The gearbox was fine, too, but I did put on a new clutch. I also put on a new water pump and replaced everything that could be considered to be consumable.”
After Reeves sent off the E Type for bodywork and new paint, he started digging deeper into the Dino. First, he concocted a rotisserie, counterbalanced with heavy concrete blocks, so he could work on the car from all angles.
“The car itself is a space frame,” he explains. “Oval tubes form the main chassis, with box sections welded on to form the shape, and then there are brackets to hold on the panels, which are basically tack-welded to the frame. None of them are bolted on; if you took all the panels off, you could still see the shape of the car and could probably still drive it. I can’t find out for sure how the factory built them, but I think they made up the front section and the rear section in a jig, fitted them to the car, and then added the roof. It’s all welded together. The only visible join on the car is on the sill, and on a lot of restorations they smooth that join over.”
Reeves shot-blasted the frame on his driveway. During the process, he discovered that several areas had never seen a coat of paint—no wonder these cars have a reputation for rusting. He then repainted the chassis himself.
“Most of the bottoms of the panels on my car had already been replaced,” he says. “There’s some expert welding that’s taken place, but I could see that the ledge on the inner sills that supports the fiberglass floor pan had some corrosion. It hadn’t been repaired properly during the previous restoration, probably because you have to take out the inner floor—which is like a tub—and it’s a major task. I probably could have left it and no one would be any the wiser, but once I knew there was corrosion there I couldn’t leave it.
“The sills are not structural but they wrap around the oval tube,” he adds. “I was trying to replace something that was installed early in the build process, so it was really difficult. I had to cut the old ones off, and since new ones aren’t available I had some sheet metal folded up and then welded it around the oval frame tubes.”‘
AFTER THE E TYPE RETURNED HOME from its respray at XK Engineering, Reeves sent off the Dino to the same company. Once it returned, looking splendid in a new coat of red paint, it was time for reassembly. Reeves recalls that one of the most nerve-wracking moments was watching a glass expert refit the curved rear window.
“If that had cracked you can’t get a replacement,” he says. “And one of the most fiddly, frustrating jobs was making the window winders, cables, and pulleys work properly.”
Reeves went to great lengths to source the correct materials. The internet proved to be an invaluable tool, allowing him to buy the door cards from Italy and the correct “mouse hair” material to recover the dash from The Netherlands. He also tracked down specialists who stocked the correct weave of carpet and black vinyl. The electronic clock had failed, as most have by now, so he bought a quartz clock and swapped the faces over. Then came the major challenge of the wiring loom.
“You can’t get the correct wiring with the writing on it, so I renovated my harness,” he says. “I stripped off the old cover, cleaned all the wires, checked and cleaned all the terminals, and re-covered it. That took ages.”
Reeves meticulously went through the entire car, and when it was finished he joined the Ferrari Owners Club, primarily so “I could put it in for judging and have an expert tell me what was wrong with it,” he says. “Some people get offended when someone tells them what’s wrong with their restoration. When they do that to me, I’m disappointed that I didn’t find it myself but I’m quite happy about it, and after checking it out myself I’ll correct it.”
Reeves notes that, when the Dino first came out, the FOC UK wouldn’t allow the cars in the club, as it didn’t consider them to be proper Ferraris. That’s of course changed now.
“On my first attempt at an FOC Concours, I scored 97 points, which was enough for a Platinum award, and I won best new entry,” he continues. “The air cleaner was painted too shiny and I had braided brake lines instead of rubber. Next time, I did a bit better. On the third attempt, I’m now up to 98 and a half points. I lost half a point for the wrong finish on the turn-signal lens screws, they docked me half a point for a blade of grass on the carpet—ridiculous but true!—and I lost half a point for having leather seats instead of plastic, but I will take that last one on the chin. They were put in by Roger Daltrey and to me are part of the history of the car, so I won’t redo them.”
Summing up, Reeves says, “There are shinier, flashier cars out there, but I think mine must be one of the, if not the, closest to factory spec in the UK. I’m not sure if that makes it worth more or less. I may even have devalued my car by doing it all myself in my home garage, as no one knows who I am. It may be worth more if a recognized specialist had done the restoration, but then I would probably have had a bill for over £100,000. Anyway, I enjoyed doing it, and I’m very proud of what I have achieved.”