Ferrari 166

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Ferrari 166 MM Spyder
Ferrari 166MM (Mille Miglia by Touring)
Manufacturer: Ferrari
Class: front-engined sports car
Production: 19481950
39 produced
Predecessor: Ferrari 125
Successor: Ferrari 195
Ferrari 212
Body styles: Coupe
Engines: 2.0 L Colombo V12

The Ferrari 166 was an evolution of the 125 S race car that became a sports car for the street. It shared its Aurelio Lampredi-designed tube frame and double wishbone/live axle suspension with the 125. Like the 125, the wheelbase was 2420 mm long. 39 examples were produced from its introduction at the Turin Motor Show in 1948 to its retirement in 1950. It was replaced by the 2.3 L 195 and 2.6 L 212 for 1952.

As was typical at the time, a bare chassis was delivered to the coachbuilder of the customer's choice. Many used Carrozzeria Touring, who produced a somewhat-standard barchetta and coupe, but Stabilimenti Farina, Ghia and Vignale also dressed 166s. 166 S competition models generally used Allemano.

The 1.5 L Gioacchino Colombo-designed V12 engine of the 125 was changed, however, with single overhead camshafts specified and a larger 2.0 L (1995 cc/121 in³) displacement. This was achieved with both a bore and stroke increase, to 60 by 58.8 mm respectively. Output was 110 to 140 hp (82 to 104 kW) at 6,000 rpm with one to three carburettors.

The oldest Ferrari car still in existence is VIN#002C, a Model 166 Spyder Corsa owned and driven by James Glickenhaus.

Motor Trend Classic named the 166MM Barchetta as number six in their list of the ten "Greatest Ferraris of all time".

Technically the 166 MM was very similar to the first Ferraris, and shared the tubular frame that was characteristic for all of the company's sports cars of the 1940s and 1950s. Suspension was equally straightforward with wishbones at the front and a live rear axle at the rear. Where the early Ferraris really excelled was in the engine compartment, where the beautifully Gioacchino Colombo designed V12 resided. In its first configuration the tiny engine just displaced 1.5 litre, but in its third incarnation had grown in size to just under two litres or 166 cc per cylinder.

What set the 166 MM apart from the previous Ferrari racers was the new car's body design and construction, for which a third party was commissioned. What the small car needed was a lightweight body; a task ideally suited for Touring of Milan whose Superleggera designs were the lightest available. At the car's Turin launch the press quickly dubbed the Touring bodystyle fitted 'Barchetta', which is Italian for little boat. The name stuck, as did the design, which today is the most famous Touring design ever fitted on a Ferrari chassis.

Ferrari had intended the 166 MM mainly as a customer racing car, but when they discovered the potential a number of works cars were also constructed. Between 1948 and 1950 just of 30 examples were constructed of which 25 were fitted with the Touring Barchetta body. By the time the last 166 MM was constructed, Ferrari had diverted their attention at exploring the full potential of the long block Lampredi design V12. In those early 1950s the interest in two litre racers quickly grew and to meet the demand Ferrari constructed a second series of 166 MMs in 1953.

Both in the hands of the works drivers and privateers the 166 MM proved to be a very commendable racer, with a large number of class and overall victories. The most famous of these victories was scored at Le Mans in 1949, where Ferrari scored a victory the first time out. The winning car was entered by Lord Selsdon, but the later North American Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti did most of t driving, 23 hours to be precise. The only reason Lord Selsdon took the helm of his Ferrari was to apply with the regulations.

The 166 MM was a big success on and off the track and contributed greatly to metamorphosis of the Scuderia Ferrari racing team to a full fledge manufacturer of road and racing cars. After being abandoned for a number of years, the Colombo engine was revived and would form the basis of the 250 GT series power plant, which had an identical bore as the 166 MM engine.

Ferrari returned to their old habits with two of the second series 166 MMs by equipping them with an in house designed body. Responsible for the design was Aurelio Lampredi, who is much better known for his engine designs. The rough body was touched up by Carrozzeria Autodromo before the featured car was entered in the where it was driven by Bill Mason, father of Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. S/n 0272 M's most famous appearance was in the 1954 Mille Miglia where it was John Fitch and actor Kirk Douglas, who starred with it in the motion picture 'The Racers'. In reality Douglas failed to finish the race, but in the movie he predictably takes the overall victory.


Ferrari 166 Barchetta Mille Miglia

166 racing cars won Mille Miglia in both 1948 and 1949, driven by Clemente Biondetti and Giuseppe Navone the first year and Biondetti and Ettore Salani the next. A 166 chassis with the bigger 195 engine won that race again in 1950 with drivers Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosara.

The car went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans (in the hands of Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon) and the Targa Florio (with Clemente Biondetti and Igor Troubetzkoy) that first year, the only car in history to win all three races. A 166 also won the Spa 24 hours in 1949.

Ferrari used its 2 L (1995 cc/121 in³) V12 engine in a number of models, all called 166 for the displacement of a single cylinder. Most early 166es were sports cars built for racing, though a later line of GT cars launched the company's street model line.

The following models used the 166 name:

166 MM/53 Spider Vignale with S/N 0290 M

Ferrari timeline, 1948-1967 Ferrari road car timeline 1960s-1990s >
Type 1940s 1950s 1960s
7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Sports 125 S 166 S+166 SC 195 S 212 Exp 225 S 250 MM 250 Monza 250 GT Tour de France 250 GT SWB 250 GTO 250 LM
159 S 250 S 250 Export
GT 166 Inter 195 Inter 212 Inter 250 Europa 250 GT Europa 250 GT Boano 250 GT Ellena 250 GT Coupe PF 250 GT Lusso 330 GTC 365 GTC
275 GTB 275 GTB/4
Spyder/Cabriolet 250 GT 275 GTS 330 GTS 365 GTS
2 plus 2 250 GT/E 330 GT 365 GT
America 340 375 America/MM 410 Superamerica 400 Superamerica 500 Superfast 365 California