Sold for $1,870,000 at 2011 Automobiles of Arizona by RM Auctions.
Chassis #: 0024M
The normal strategy for many car manufacturers can be summed up in one statement: 'What wins at the track on Sunday will sell in the showroom on Monday'. Nowhere was this strategy more evident than with Ferrari's 166. Ferrari's 166MM became the company's first real successful sports car in what would become an extensive lineage.
Ferrari had mainly focused on making single-seat race cars for grand prix races. Enzo Ferrari had gotten his start making such cars under his own name all the way back in the late 1920s. This venture was funded by car manufacturer Alfa Romeo. Ferrari was motivated to head out on his own after Alfa Romeo decided to take everything Enzo had been designing and putting their name on his work.
After World War II, Enzo Ferrari got his company working in full-swing. He designed the chassis and hired fellow Alfa employee Gioacchino Colombo to design and build competitive engines.
During the mid-1940s, Ferrari and Colombo created the 125 S sports car. The 125 S was re-designed to a certain degree and became a car for the city streets. The street version was called the 166 Inter.
Ferrari created another version of the 166 called the 'S'. This 'S' model would propel Ferrari into the market of desirable street versions of the company's awesome sports cars.
In 1948, Scuderia Ferrari entered a number of its 166 S model sports cars in the Mille Miglia. Clemente Biondetti and Giuseppe Navone had been able to keep themselves from the scrap between Alberto Ascari and Tazio Nuvolari and ended up winning the race. Almost forgotten because of the retirement of the great Tazio Nuvolari, Biondetti remarked upon taking the opportunity to speak at the awards ceremony, 'Excuse me for having won'. Ferrari's victory at the Mille Miglia, though overshadowed and almost forgotten, would spark the fuse that would make Ferrari almost as synonymous with sports car racing as it would be with grand prix racing.
The reason for this, partly, was because of Enzo's ability to take advantage of the company's successes on the track. Immediately after the win at the 1,000 mile Mille Miglia, Ferrari upgraded their 166 S and called it the 166MM. The double 'M' stood for Mille Miglia. The 166MM would prove that Enzo's move was not premature.
Ferrari's 166MM would go on to win the Mille Miglia again with Biondetti and Ettore Salani in 1949. However, Ferrari would further reinforce the strength and influence of its 166MM with a victory at that year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Luigi Chinetti won the race almost single-handily by driving all but one half hour of the twenty-four hour race.
The Ferrari 166MM proved to be a real performer and that was in no small part due to how the car was created. Ferrari expert and 166MM owner David Seielstad said about the 166MM, it was 'the first beautiful Ferrari and fundamental to the brand's success.' If the 'S' had gotten it all started for Ferrari, the MM 'started the magic', as Automobile Magazine was quoted as saying. The MM put Ferrari at the head of the list for most desirable sports car maker.
The watchword for the design of the 166 was 'light'. The design was stripped of anything that wasn't necessary. Colombo took the 1.5 liter V12 engine used in the 125 and changed it by using single overhead camshafts. The displacement was also enlarged to 2.0 liters. Therefore, with the addition of three carburetors, the engine was capable of producing 140 bhp. Due to the fact the chassis was made very light, the car was very quick and nimble. The nimbleness came from a double wishbone independent, coil spring suspension and a live axle rear with semi-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms. Braking power for the small and light car was achieved by four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.
The frame was an Aurelio Lampredi designed tube frame. The body, itself, was fashioned by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan. They had been using a new technique whereby the aluminum-alloy panels were attached directly to the tubular frame body. This made the car light, but, strong.
In all, the Carrozzeria Touring built twenty-five Barchettas. The one offered at the auction this year was one of those twenty-five. In fact, the car offered was number ten and has a well documented history. One interesting thing about this 166MM is that it actually still has matching chassis and engine numbers.
Chassis number 0024M actually started out life as a show car for Ferrari at the 1949 Paris Motor Show. It was finished in Argentinean racing colors, a two-toned blue and yellow finish. The official records show that the car was first purchased by the Automobile Club of Argentina.
The car, while having some 'Lusso' creature comforts, was fitted with the competition package. The car came with the three Weber carburetors and increased compression ratio and could reach 140 bhp. Intended for competition, the car, minus an odometer, did come complete with all essential gauges.
In January of 1950, the car was entered in the Mar del Plata open road race by Carlos Menditeguy. The car's presence is well documented through numerous photographs from the event, no doubt helped by the fact the car won handily. However, not all was right after the victory. Troubles with importation paperwork caused the car to be shipped back to Europe.
The car was next bought by Francesco Zaccaria Terravazzi of Nerviano, Italy. Francesco then entered the car in the Mille Miglia in 1951. By this time, other competitor designs had been improved and were more than a match for the 166MM. Entered with number 344, which the car bears today, Francesco, co-driving with Aprile Palmer, managed to finish 94th overall, albeit 8th in class. The car's presence at the race in 1951 is also well-documented through numerous photographs where the 166MM with number 344 can clearly be seen.
After the Mille Miglia in 1951, the car was known to only compete in one other race and that was in July of 1951. After that, the car was sold in late-1952 and went to San Remo. The car was changed and became a Berlinetta. The car was fitted with the aluminum coupe body by Carrozzeria Vignale, and then, sold in 1954.
The car has been repainted and finished in different colors throughout its history and was shipped, un-crated, to Los Angeles. Problems arose after it arrived in Los Angeles. As a result, the car's engine and drivetrain had been removed. Meanwhile, the rest of the car was sold and was re-fitted with a Corvette 283 cubic inch V-8, gearbox and rear axle. Surprisingly, the car once again appeared for all the world to see when it was written about by Wayne Thoms in Motor Trend in 1959.
The car had again been sold a couple of times and had managed to virtually disappear. But this 166MM would never be able to hide.
At one point in time, the 0024M's engine and drivetrain had been sold and ended up on the other side of the country from its body. The forced separation continued until Ferrari dealer and historian Stanely Nowak of Mount Vernon, New York bought the 166MM car (without its original engine and drivetrain).
Nowak began to research the vehicle's history and began the quest to re-unite the car and its heart and soul. While searching for the engine and its parts, Nowak sold the car to Gary Schonwald. After many phone calls, and after the help of many other participants, including former owners, the car's original engine was back with the car. However, the car was nowhere near the condition it once was.
After locating all of the car, it went through a restoration process of over fifteen years. It was sent to Pennsylvania, as well as England until the restoration was completed in 1989. After the completion, the car was once again sold, but all together this time. Later, in 1995, the car was purchased by notable Japanese collector Yoshida Matsuda. As this 166MM always seemed to have a knack to do, the car would end up on the cover of Prancing Horse two years after being shipped to Tokyo. The car returned to the United States when it was purchased in 2008.
Restored, and with its original engine, this 166MM gives anyone a good idea as to why Ferrari became so well known and desired among the sports car world. Motor Trend Classic named the 166MM Barchetta number six on their list of the ten 'Greatest Ferraris of all time'. This 166MM gives a good idea as to why that ranking is not unfounded.'Buy: Featured Lots (Lot 285: 1949 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta)', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r223). RM Auctions Arizona. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ11&CarID=r223. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Scuderia Ferrari', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 January 2011, 16:46 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Scuderia_Ferrari&oldid=406305526 accessed 6 January 2011
Wikipedia contributors, 'Ferrari 166 S', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 November 2010, 12:57 UTC,http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ferrari_166_S&oldid=398803657 accessed 6 January 2011
'1948 Mille Miglia', (http://www.ddavid.com/formula1/mille_miglia_1948.htm). Grand Prix History: 1948 Mille Miglia. http://www.ddavid.com/formula1/mille_miglia_1948.htm. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
'Cars: Ferrari 166MM', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/type/results/Ferrari/166%20MM.html). RacingSportsCars.com. http://www.racingsportscars.com/type/results/Ferrari/166%20MM.html. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
'Ferrari: 166MM Barchetta', (http://www.supercars.net/cars/485.html). SuperCars.net. http://www.supercars.net/cars/485.html. Retrieved 6 January 2011.By Jeremy McMullen