This was Ferrari’s first 12-cylinder engine to reach 2-litre capacity. As in the case of the 159 S, bore sizes and strokes were both increased, and as usual both open-wheel and full bodywork models were produced. This model proved successful and was one of the first to do well outside Italy, helping to build a reputation for Ferrari in the all-important American market.
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The 166 Inter was built between 1948 and 1950 and was the road-going version of the 166 racing cars, such as the 166 MM Barchetta, and thus had odd chassis numbers. Normally, owners opted for coupé-type bodies but four cabriolet versions were also built – three by the Stabilimenti Farina and one by Bertone. All of Italy’s finest coachbuilders clothed the 166 Inter series, each bringing its own interpretation of what a Ferrari body should look like. Aside from Stabilimenti Farina, Bertone and the Carrozzeria Touring (which bodied the first 166 Sport coupé for the 1948 Turin Motor Show), Ghina and Vignale also created their own versions.
Carrozzeria Vignale bodied the lion’s share of the 166 Inters, in fact, and the resulting cars closely resembled the latter’s 166 Barchetta, despite having a slightly longer wheelbase and a soft three-volume coupé line. The bodies crafted by Stabilimenti Farina and Ghia were very similar in type, offering a two-volume coupé line that looked a little heavier than the Touring version. The Stabilimenti Farina cabriolets were virtually identical to the coupé from the coachline down: in fact, as with the Bertone version, their folding hood was made from canvas. Vignale’s also offered a two-volume coupé but with much lighter lines than Farina and Ghia’s creations. It also looked much sportier, which resulted it in it being second only to the Touring version in popularity and in numbers built.
Even though two examples of the 166 Inter from the same coachbuilder might initially seem identical, each body was hand-built and clients were always free to impose their own stylistic demands. The result was that each one was a one-off to a large extent. There were many, many small difference between each individual car, in fact, ranging from the radiator grilles to the light clusters.
The Inters were designed as road cars but many of their owners couldn’t resist competing them and enjoyed considerable success despite the fact that the bodies were heavier than similar track-readied versions. They were also heavier in general because of the cabin fittings which were obviously quite lavish for the day. Because the Inter series was designed for the road, the front and rear bumpers came as standard: the Touring versions, however, were extremely small and sported rubber stripes but the Ghia, Farina and Vignale versions were larger and chromed.
The running gear coupled with the 2420mm steel tubular chassis was very similar to that of the racing version: an aluminium two-litre mated with a five-speed gearbox that sent power to the live rear axle. The engines in these models had a twin distributor and coil ignition system, and were normally equipped with a single twin-choke carburettor. Nonetheless, a triple carburettor set-up was also available to owners looking for a bit more speed. The Inter 166s were the only Ferraris of the day available with fitted Rudge-type spline hubs with steel disc wheels. They latter were also often hidden under chrome hub caps.
Just 37 166 Inters were ever built and had chassis numbers from 007 to 079.