The 212 Inter was descended directly from the first Ferrari of just four years previous. Introduced in 1951, the 212 was the replacement for Ferrari's very successful 166 and 195 Inter GT vehicles. This was the eventual evolution of the 166, a sports car that would win international races, as well as being a road-worthy warrior. Sharing a similar chassis to the 125, the 212 had double wishbones in front and live axles in the rear. The final model of the Ferrari's first series, the versatile V-12 was updated and enlarged to 2,562 cc.
Becoming the youngest winner of the Italian Grand Prix in 1950, Giannino Marzotto, age 22, and heir to a large textile factory wasn't afraid to inform Ferrari about the heaviness and lack of aerodynamics in his available vehicles. Ferrari Responding that his cars were the most efficient in the world, Marzotto set a challenge to improve upon the previous year's Ferrari.
Incorporating a whole new design that was based on the Ferrari 166 with a 212 engine, the low slung body with a rounded shape was built similar to an egg or 'Uovo'. Builders at this time based their designs on 'optical intuition' rather than wind tunnels eventually used in auto racing. Marzotto called on the aid of coachbuilders Paolo Fontana and Sergio Reggiani of Padua to assist in his design.
Construction of the body of the Ferrari 212 began by utilizing braced box tubes that were covered with Puralumana.; which was a type of Duralumin that assisted in a weight savings of nearly 200lbs. Offering relief from window reflections that can be annoying, a steeply raked front windshield was designed. Unfortunately, during rainstorms and when speed was involved, the wipers lost contact with the windscreen rendering it useless. A result of the original radiator not being delivered in time, the tall radiator was put in place instead and pushed the bonnet of the 212 to be 15cm higher than originally planned.
Following road-testing in nearby mountains, the Marzollo brothers next took their Uovo to Ferrari in Maranello. This meeting did not go as expected as Ferrari took offense at what he perceived as a challenge from a family of amateurs. Ferrari told the Marzotto brothers that would enter a car in Sicily driven by Taruffi to 'defend the colors of the Cavallino', which only served to stiffen the resolve of the brothers.
During the 1951 Mille Miglia, Giannino brought his Uovo newly fitted with triple carburetors to boost the engine to 186 hp. This now improved aerodynamics and lightened the weight, making it able to match the overall speed of the larger cars. The main advantage that the Uovo had over other vehicles was its maneuverability.
Following the first 600 of 1600 kilometers at the Giro di Sicilia, Giannino opened a 10-minute lead over the entire field. Unfortunately, Marzotto had to withdraw from the race due to a loud drumming noise coming from the rear of the car. Fearing a frozen differential that might toss his vehicle into the Italian countryside, and himself into immortality, Marzotti withdrew from the race that was eventually won by Villoresi in of the 4.1s.
The Uovo reached victory at the following race, the Giro di Toscana. A return to the Mille Miglia was made in 1953 by Giannino Marzotto, as well as a victory driving one of the Ferrari 4.1s.
The Coachbuilders for the Ferrari 212 included such elite designers as Pinin Farina, Ghia, Vignale, and Carrozzeria Touring. Similar to the 195, the 212 produced additional displacement over the 166 with a larger bore, this time to 68 mm.
The Ferrari 212 V12 continued in production until as late as 1953 and continued for a longer period than a 195. Compared to about 80 of the 212 Inter versions, around two dozen Export models were produced. A total of 15 Ferrari 212 Vignale Coupes were ever produced.By Jessica Donaldson
166, 195, and 212
The 166 Inter was powered by a 2-liter V12 engine and produced 115 horsepower. These were road cars and were given odd chassis numbers. The even chassis numbers were reserved for the vehicles that were intended for racing. The bodies of the Inter vehicles were mostly Berlinetta and Coupes. At first, Touring handled most of the road going body construction but it was not long before Vignale, Ghia, Pinin Farina, and others were creating custom coachwork. The 166 Inter was mechanically similar to the racing versions; it was 25 horsepower shy of its racing sibling. The suspension was wishbones in the front and a live rear axle. The chassis was a simple steel tubular frame. A replacement was created in 1950 after around 40 examples of the 166 Inter were produced. The displacement of the engine was enlarged to just over 2.3 liters which resulted in a unitary displacement of 195cc. Thus, the 195 Inter came into existence. A year later, the engine was enlarged even further resulting in the 212 Inter. After a year of production and with only 142 examples being created, the production of the 212 Inter ceased.
The 212 Inter was intended for road use while the 212 Export was primarily constructed for competition. Ferrari produced the rolling chassis and a Carrozzeria, meaning coachbuilder, was given the task of constructing the body. Each body was hand-built and often to customers' specifications. Because of this, the dimensions, body styles, and features of the car vary from one to another. Many of the 212 Inter vehicles sat atop a 2600mm wheelbase chassis; some were on a shorter, 2500mm wheelbase. The 212 Exports were also built atop of a 2250 wheelbase.
Cars produced between 1952 and 1953 were given the 'EU' designation on their chassis. The ones that proceeded these were given chassis numbers ending in S, E, and EL. The 'E' represented Export while the 'L' represented Lungo. One special chassis carried the 'T' designation on its chassis plate.
Under the hood of the long and graceful bonnet was a Colombo designed V12 engine mounted at 60-degrees. The engine came in a variety of flavors and left up to the customers to chose. Standard was the single Weber 36 DCF carburetor which was capable of producing 150 horsepower. Triple Weber 32 DCF carburetors could be purchased which increased horsepower to an impressive 170. All versions came with the standard Ferrari five-speed non-synchromesh gearbox and hydraulic drum brakes.
In total there were 82 versions of the 212 Inter constructed. Vignale was given the task of creating 37 of these. Fifteen of his creations were coupes, seven were convertibles, and thirteen were in Berlinetta configuration. Ghia was tasked with constructing 15 coupes and one convertible. Touring clothed one coupe and six Berlinetta's. The English coachbuilder, Abbot, created a four-seat cabriolet that was not that pleasing to the eye. Pinin Farina created two convertibles and eleven coupes. Styling varied among each of these coachbuilders with some being heavily dictated by the customer's wishes. Most of the cars were elegant, with few flamboyant cues, and well-proportioned body lines. They were minimalistic with little chrome and rounded smooth bodies.
The 212 was replaced by the 250 Europa in 1953 and Pinin Farina had become Enzo Ferrari's carrozzeria of choice.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007