The Ferrari 166 S was an evolution of Ferrari's 125 S sports race car that became a sports car for the street in the form of the 166 Inter. Only 39 Ferrari 166 S's were produced, soon followed by the production of the 166 Mille Miglia (MM) which was made in much larger numbers from 1949 to 1952. The 166 MM were in fact updated 166 S and were the cars that score many of Ferrari’s first international victories and made Ferrari a serious competitor on the racing industry. 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 S in 1950. The first 166 Inter was designed by Touring's chief stylist, Carlo Anderloni. 166 S competition models were generally coachbuilt by Carrozzeria 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.
Motor Trend Classic named the 166 MM Barchetta as number six in their list of the ten "Greatest Ferraris of all time".
Nine 166 Spider Corsas and three 166 Sports were built. The oldest Ferrari car with an undisputed pedigree still in existence is VIN#002C, a Model 166 Spider Corsa which was originally a 159 and is currently owned and driven by James Glickenhaus. #0052M, a 1950 166 MM Touring Barchetta was recently uncovered in a barn and was shown in public for the first time since 1959 in the August 2006 issue of Cavallino magazine.
Ferrari 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. In 1949 the 166 also won 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, making it the only car ever to win all three races. The same year, another 166 won the 1949 Spa 24 Hours.
A 166 chassis, this time with the bigger 195 engine, won the Mille Miglia again in 1950 with drivers Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosara.
Cited in Song
The 166 was memorialized in song by Rush on their Moving Pictures album. The song, "Red Barchetta", a futuristic story of man against an oppressive society, was inspired by Richard S Foster's "A Nice Morning Drive", a short story published in November, 1973 issue of the magazine Road and Track. In the original article, the protagonist drove an MGB. A former MGB owner himself, Rush lyricist Neil Peart exercised a little artistic license in changing the hero's car from an MGB to the car of Peart's dreams, the Red Barchetta, providing the song an eminently more stylish name.