It was in 1948 when the newly formed Italian automobile company named Ferrari began selling a promising sports car named the 166. The two seater sports car featured a 12-cylinder engine mounted in the front and supplying over 100 horsepower to the rear wheels. The engine was just under two-liters in size and had a unitary displacement of 166 cc, thus, the evolution of the model name. Production would last until 1953 with only 38 examples being produced. Even though production was low, its accomplishments are large, with wins at LeMans, Mille Miglia, and the Targa Florio.
The 166 was a continuation of the 125, introduced a year earlier. The 125's size of 1497 cc was later enlarged to 1902cc, bringing about the Tipo 159. In 1948, it was enlarged to 1995 cc and became the 166.
As was customary at the time, a rolling chassis was supplied to custom coachbuilders to outfit the vehicles according to customer specifications and their intended purposes. The 166 MM was named after its historic victories at the Mille Miglia. The 166 MM versions were given even chassis numbers and built with racing intentions. The 166 Inter, named after victories at the Coppa Intereuropa at Monza, were given odd chassis numbers and became Ferrari's first road car.
The 166 Inter road cars featured a 2 liter, 12-cylinder Colombo engine producing about 115 horsepower. The engines were mounted longitudinally and given one Weber 32 DCF Carburetor. A five-speed manual gearbox provided power to the rear wheels while drum brakes provided the stopping power. Top speed was achieved at just over 105 mph. Zero-to-sixty took about ten seconds. The tubular frame was given a live-rear axle and a front wishbone suspension. When production began, Carrozzeria Touring was the primary coachbuilder, outfitting the cars in both Berlinetta and Coupe bodies. Later, other coachbuilders such as Pinin Farina, Ghia, Vignale, and others, produced bodies for the 166 Inter.
The phenomenal accomplishments achieved on the race track did much to stir enthusiasm for the cars. To generate even more publicity, in November of 1948, Ferrari displayed examples of his 166 MM and 166 Inter Coupe at the Turin Motor Show. Other shows included the Paris salon in October of 1950 and the Geneva Salons in March of 1951.
With just 38 examples created, the 166 Inter was replaced in 1950 by the 195 Inter. The 195 Inter came into existence by the enlargement of the engine to 2.3 liters. A year later the engine was enlarged to 212 cc and the name changed to 212 Inter. In 1952, after 142 examples were created, production ceased.166 MM
The 166 MM was a competition version of the 166 Inter. It featured the same 12-cylinder engine, but modified to produce 135 horsepower. The suspension and chassis were similar to the 166 Inter. The bodies were lightweight, small, and built to endure the grueling requirements that racing requires. Initially, Ferrari intended the 166 MM to be a customer racing car. After a number of 166 MM models captured a large number of class and overall victories against stiff competition such as Maserati, Cistiralia, and Alfa Romeo, Ferrari commissioned the creation of the 166 MM as factory works cars.
Touring of Italy was commissioned to provide the coachwork for most of the 166 MM, and many were given Barchetta bodies. The name 'Barchetta' came about because of the size and design of the car. Barchetta in Italian means little boat.
Clemente Biondetti and Giuseppe Navone drove a 166 MM to overall victory at the Mille Miglia in 1948. A year later, Biondetti and Ettore Salani captured the victory at Mille Miglia in a 166 MM. Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosara capture victory at Mille Miglia in 1950, driving a 166 chassis with a bigger 195 engine. In 1949 a Ferrari 166 MM, entered by Lord Selsdon and mostly driven by Luigi Chinetti, captured overall victory at Le Mans.
The 166 MM's were a powerful, reliable and competitive automobile. Their historic accomplishments are legendary and their designs are elegant, beautiful and breathtaking. VIN #002C, a 166 Spyder Corsa, is the oldest Ferrari car still in existence.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007