Ferrari 166 Berlinetta by Vignale

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166 Berlinetta by Vignale





Enzo Ferrari had begun planning his new car during the war and in 1946 commissioned Gioacchino Colombo to design a small-capacity V12 engine for it. The 1.5-litre Tipo 125 unit took its designation from the capacity of an individual cylinder (125cc), thus instigating a system of nomenclature that would characterise Ferraris for many years to some. Ferrari's Tipo 125 sports-racer made its competition debut in 1947 and by mid season had been re-designated Tipo 159, its engine having been enlarged to 1.9 litres. Later in the year the first Tipo 166 (2.0-litre) unit appeared. In race tune up to 150bhp was available - the Inter road car with its single twin-choke Weber carburettor produced 100bhp - which was transmitted via a five-speed gearbox, an unusual feature in those days, even on a competition car. The twin-tube chassis employed transverse leaf and double wishbone front suspension and a semi-elliptically sprung live rear axle located by torsional stabilising bars. Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers were fitted all round.

Before long Ferrari had become the dominant force in international sports car racing, 1949 proving to be a phenomenal year for the Tipo 166, which claimed victory in three of the world's most prestigious events: the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and Le Mans 24-Hour Race, a quite outstanding achievement.

The Ferrari 166 Inter was Ferrari's first true grand tourer. An evolution of the 125 S and 166 S racing cars, it was a sports car for the street with coachbuilt bodies. The Inter name commemorated the victories claimed in 166 S models by Scuderia Inter. 37 166 Inters were built from 1948 through 1950. Note that both the 166 S and 166 F2 were also called "166 Inter" in the days that they were actively raced by the Scuderia of the same name.

The 166 Inter shared its Aurelio Lampredi-designed tube frame and double wishbone/live axle suspension and 2420 mm wheelbase with the 125 S and 166 S. It was replaced by the 2.3 L 195 Inter and 2.6 L 212 Inter in 1950 and 1951.

The first Ferrari GT car debuted at the Paris Motor Show on October 6, 1949. It was an elegant coupe designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan who had previously created a number of similar Ferrari and Alfa Romeo models. Customer sales soon started, with 166 Inter models becoming the first Ferraris to be purchased for the road rather than the race track. As was typical at the time, a bare chassis was delivered to the coachbuilder of the customer's choice. Many used Touring, but Ghia's one-off Boano coupe was more daring. Others were built by Stabilimenti Farina, who penned a Cisitalia 202-like coupe. Vignale also joined in, presaging their designs of the coming decade, and two cabriolets created by Pinin Farina and Bertone foreshadowed those companies' later involvement with Ferrari.

The examples bodied by Carrozzeria Touring were the most popular, bearing a strong familial resemblance to the style of the coachbuilder’s Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta, albeit on a longer-wheelbase chassis and with smoothly-curved coupe or berlinetta bodywork. At this time, virtually every car was unique, as there are frequently numerous detail differences among them from the same coachbuilder. Although the 166 Inter was a road car from the outset, numerous owners also used them in competition, where they acquitted themselves quite well despite their slightly heavier bodies and fully trimmed interiors.

The designer, Giovanni Michelotti, worked closely with Alfredo Vignale, one of the newest coachbuilders in Turin; the pair had worked together at Stabilimenti Farina. Their method of coachbuilding was unique and truly artisan in nature. Michelotti would draw the design at 1:1 scale and then Vignale would translate the drawing straight onto the aluminium sheets they used. The only tools used consisted of a wooden hammer, a tree stump, a flat mallet, a sack of sand and finally an anvil and a flat hammer.

The first Michelotti design for Ferrari was called the Coupé Grand Sport. This design, with variations, was adapted for use on ten 166 Inters with short chassis.

The 2.0 L Gioacchino Colombo-designed V12 engine from the 166 S remained, as did its chassis, though the wheelbase would eventually grow from 2420 mm (95 in) to 2500 mm (98 in). Output was 110 to 140 hp (82 to 104 kW) at 6,000 rpm with one to three carburetors.

Just 10 – were fitted with elegant yet sporting coachwork by Stabilimenti Farina, where a young Battista “Pinin” Farina learned his craft.

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