Ferrari 166 MM

The 1948 season saw numerous victories for Ferrari’s cycle-winged 166 Corsa, including the Targa Florio, the Mille Miglia, and the Paris 12-hour race. The two-liter version of Giaocchino Colombo’s new short-block V-12, a development of the smaller 125 S engine, was obviously a winner, and for 1949, Maranello ramped up production to double-digit levels.

The coachwork solution for many of the forthcoming cars appeared at the Turin Salon in September 1948 on an updated model dubbed the 166 MM, in honor of the Mille Miglia victory. Eschewing the Corsa’s pre-war-style cycle-wing exterior, Touring of Milan built a beautiful two-seat spider body with full fenders and unadorned beltlines. Using its patented Superleggera technique, Touring eventually bodied 25 examples of the 166 in the open style that came to be known as the barchetta (Italian for “little boat”). The popular body style would even outlast the 166 model, extending into the succeeding 195, 212, and 340 series.

Two of the early 166 MM barchettas were entered by Ferrari at the 1949 Mille Miglia, and they finished a commanding 1-2, with Clemente Biondetti and Ettore Salani edging out Felice Bonetto and Pierre-Louis Carpani. The 166 MM went on to rack up multiple wins during the 1949 season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Spa, and events at Senigallia and Trieste.

The Ferrari sports-racer became the early blueprint for Maranello’s successful formula. The iconic 166 MM is the godfather of all the short-block–based competition cars that followed, from the 195 and 212 Exports, to the 225 S, 250 GT TdFs, and Testa Rossas. When dressed with Touring’s influential barchetta coachwork, it is unequivocally one of the most important and beautiful Ferraris ever built, and the 166 MM is undoubtedly the reason Ferrari stands triumphant at the pinnacle of motorsport.

This sensational early barchetta possesses all of the critical attributes a collector would want in an even-numbered sports-racing Ferrari: rarity, period racing history in Italy and the United States, an extremely high level of originality, and a highly decorated show career in more recent decades. Chassis 0058 M is the 27th of 32 166 MM examples built, and the 23rd of 25 Touring barchettas. As demonstrated by original factory build sheets, the chassis was equipped with Rudge wheel hubs and Houdaille shock absorbers, while the Colombo V-12 was originally fitted with a single Weber 36 DCF/1 carburetor.

With a certificate of origin issued on 1 June 1950, the 166 was delivered to Touring of Milan for mounting of the open coachwork. Touring body number 3452 was then finished in traditional rosso corsa and appointed with a lusso (luxury) interior trimmed with beige leather.

0058 M was delivered on 5 June to its first owner of record, Marco Dallorso of the company S.r.L. Braida e C., Costruz. Stradili, in Genoa. A short time later, the fabulous 166 MM was given as a gift to up-and-coming racing driver Eugenio Castelotti, of Milan, who registered the car as MI 166875. On 28 April 1951, Castellotti entered the Ferrari in the Mille Miglia as #340, and he and co-driver Giuseppe Rota managed to finish the grueling contest while capturing 6th in class.

Hoping to coax a better performance out of the 166, Castellotti returned the barchetta to the factory in Maranello, and the engine was upgraded with a competition manifold featuring triple Weber carburetors fed by individual ram-horn air cleaners. The gearbox was converted to an offset lever-type shifter, and adjustments were made to the fuel log and the distributor boots. Externally, the original single-scoop hood was replaced with an unvented bonnet.

On 3 June, Castellotti was joined by Sandro Matranga at the Coppa della Toscana, where, as #1248, the upgraded MM finished 8th overall and 3rd in class. Two weeks later, the 166 was entered as #30 at the Circuito Internacional do Porto in Portugal, and Castellotti roared to a 7th-overall finish, again 3rd in class. On 15 July, the barchetta experienced a minor setback when it failed to complete the Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti, where Castellotti and Annibale Broglia were entered as #102. The Ferrari bounced back on 5 August, however, when Castellotti finished 3rd in class at the Giro delle Calabrie.

0058 M’s debut in the 1952 season was unremarkable, with another early retirement occurring at the Prix de Monte Carlo in Monaco on 1 June. On 28 September at the Gran Premio di Bari, while entered as #89, the 166 finished 7th overall and 2nd in class, this time with Sergio Mantovani at the wheel.

The 166 MM returned to the Mille Miglia on 25 April 1953, entered as #455, but Ambrogio Arosio and Italo Di Giuseppe were unable to finish the race. On 14 June, Arosio retired early after suffering a minor accident at the VII Varese-Campo dei Fiori Hillclimb. After undergoing repairs, the Ferrari was exported to the United States later in 1953, destined for Charles Rezzaghi’s famous Mille Miglia Motors in San Francisco, one of the West Coast’s primary importers of Italian sports cars during the 1950s. Before the year had ended, 0058 M was sold to Dr. Raymond Craycroft of Berkeley, California.