For all that it was sporty, the Ferrari 166 Inter 2+2 fixed-head coupe was not the sort of growling supercar that later became the hallmark of the ‘Prancing Horse’ factory at Maranello. But then this was Ferrari’s first road car, being based on the 125 S and 166 S racing cars with coach built bodywork, and it was named to commemorate the 166’s track victories.
There was logic in the choice, for the 166 Inter shared both a chassis and Gioacchino Colombo-designed engine with the successful racer.
The world’s first sight of this elegant new machine came at the Geneva Salon in 1949, where a Farina-bodied convertible appeared. At the subsequent Paris Motor Show a car wearing a handsome coupe body by Touring of Milan was shown. But well-heeled luxury car buyers weren’t exactly seduced by Ferrari’s first passenger car (just 37 were sold in two years), even though it had been created in response to persistent demand from followers of the Scuderia who were lusting after a road car to drive.
Each of the cars that came out of Maranello was unique. For in the fashion of the day Ferrari supplied a rolling chassis to the coachbuilder of the client’s choice, who proceeded to design and fit custom bodywork. Companies thus favoured were Vignale (with forward-looking berlinettas and a coupe), Stabilimenti Farina with attractive coupes and cabriolets, whilst Ghia provided one adventurous coupe by Mario Boano. However, Touring remained responsible for the majority of 166 Inters, including ten berlinettas —the most popular body style — and the lone barchetta.
Enzo Ferrari may have been underwhelmed by the sales of 166 Inters, but he was sufficiently encouraged to take the next step along the supercar road with the 195 Inters and 212 Inters of 1950.The game was afoot!
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1948 (until 1950)
1,995 cc V12
Top speed of 106 mph (170 km/h) with a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 10 secs.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The famous Ferrari Prancing Horse motif was originally the emblem of leading Italian World War I fighter ace Francesco Baracca – it was removed from the wreckage of his SPAD fighter plane after his mysterious death crash and acquired by Enzo Ferrari in 1923.