Our gratitude to Scott George, President and Curator of the Collier Collection, Naples (Florida) for providing details of this unique story.
History is littered with significant Ferraris. None more important than this 166 Spyder Corsa. The Tipo 166 was the first Ferrari to win a major race. This particular Tipo 166 was also the first to arrive in the United States.
Prior to World War II, Enzo Ferrari had distinguished himself as a superb team organizer and a man who was best at being his own boss. Racing Alfas as head of Scuderia Ferrari, he was successful. Yet as an employee of the factory<s Alfa Corse, he lasted less than a year. Despite being barred from competition for four years by his Alfa agreement, Enzo competed anyway, producing two cars designated “815” (8 cylinders, 1.5 liters, conjured mostly of Fiat parts) under the marquee name Auto Avio Construzione; the informed press called them “Ferrari” anyway. At the 1950 Mille Miglia, Europe’s last race for the duration of the war, an 815 broke the lap record and then broke down.
The war over, with the help of former Alfa engineer Giacchino Colombo, Enzo was ready to do battle again. Now he could call his car a Ferrari. That it would be powered by a V-12 engine was the first decision made, purportedly because of the impression a V-12 Packard Double Six had made on him, perhaps also Alfas were eights – and because a twelve promised maximum power with acceptable complexity. Ferrari began racing in 1947. Success proved Columbo’s V-12 a masterpiece.
In 1948 the new Tipo 166 was victorious at the Targa Florio in April and the Mille Miglia in May. That September, in the car on display, Luigi Chinetti won the 12 Hours of Monthléry and returned to the track in November to break the 2-liter class records for the hour, 100 miles and 200 km, all at 124+ mph.
Purchased from Chinetti and brought to the States in 1949 by Briggs Cunningham, this Tipo 166 (serial number 016-1) scored its first US victory (Briggs driving) at the Suffolk County Airport Race on Long Island in May 1950. In June, at Bridgehampton, Sam Collier put up the fastest lap and placed second to Tom Cole’s 5.4 liter J-2 Cadillac-Allard. Tragically, that September, a crash at Watkins Glen took Sam’s life. The car was all but retired from competition soon after.
Following the tragedy, Briggs Cunningham and Alfred Momo got the car back in shape and it raced the following year in 1951. Cunningham kept the car and did a quick restoration prior to storing it in his museum in 1964. In 1986, the Briggs Cunningham collection was sold to Miles Collier, Sam’s brother, thus returning the car to its second owner family. More recently, to satisfy Miles Collier’s search for absolute originality, it was decided to restore the car anew. On August 31, 2013, at the 31st Lime Rock Historic Festival, it surfaced again freshly restored to its former glory by noted restorer Paul Russell. Next day, it won Best of Show.
Photo by Michael DiPleco - http://www.sportscardigest.com/lime-rock-historic-festival-2013-concours-photo-gallery/
Specifications - Ferrati 166 Spyder Corsa
Engine: V12, 60 degree, single overhead camshaft, 1992 cc, 130 hp at 7000 rpm (140 hp with higher compression and alcohol fuel).
Wheelbase: 95 ¼ in
Weight: 1590 lb