1949 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta

The car had been undergoing Classiche certification, but the process was not complete at the time of the auction

The Ferrari 166 MM is the definitive 1950s sports car configuration, with its smooth envelope body, long flowing hood and short tail. Named for the Mille Miglia race, it was created by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan, and compared to the 125S, from which it was developed, the Barchetta (“little boat”) is a masterpiece of simple style.

In all, 25 Barchettas were built and the car on offer is number 10. Its history is extremely interesting—not to mention nail-biting at times—just like the race for which it was named. Its survival can be attributed to determination and luck. The story is also remarkably well documented, and numerous period photos and documents accompany the car.

0024M is unusual in that it combines both the “Lusso” creature comforts and the competition package. The engine, 0022M, which is original to this car, was fitted with three Weber 32-mm DCF carburetors, instead of the street version’s single Zenith, and “MM” pistons, which raised the compression ratio from 8:1 to 10:1. Gauges included a large tachometer, fuel pressure gauge, oil pressure gauge and oil and water temperature gauges. No odometer was fitted, as the car was intended primarily for competition. Estimated horsepower was 140, with 0–100 mph coming up in 27 seconds.

0024M was commissioned as the 1949 Paris Motor Show car and finished in Argentine racing colors—two tones of bright blue with yellow sides. The buyer of record was the Automobile Club of Argentina, and while rumors persist that it was intended as a gift to Eva Perón, it seems more likely that race driver Carlos Menditeguy was hoping to curry favor with the Peronistas—and avoid the country’s ruinous import duties. The ploy didn’t work, and the car was shipped back to Italy.

0024M was resold in Italy, and the following owner arranged to have the car re-bodied by Carrozzeria Vignale, who fitted it with an aluminum coupe body. Following that event, the car found its way to the U.S. In the States, a former owner had some mechanical problems and then removed the drivetrain and sold the rest of the car. A Corvette 283-ci V8, gearbox and rear axle were then fitted to the chassis and the engine found its way into a Siata special. In 1974, Ferrari dealer and historian Stanley Nowak bought 0024M. Nowak heroically dug away at the car’s history, turning up photographs, correspondence, documents and finally the remains of the Siata special—complete with 0024M’s original engine.

A couple of new owners followed and finally a five-year restoration commenced using Nowak’s research—as well as a comprehensive ten-year collection of material from another former owner. The drivetrain was reunited with the car, and a replica spider body was built to replace the coupe body. The restoration of 0024M was completed in late 1989, and the car was finally returned to its original Barchetta configuration.

Ferrari 166 MMs are among the most desirable Ferraris on the market, not only for their rarity but also their tremendous event potential. As offered, 0024M would be an exciting entry at any vintage event in the world, not the least of which is the Mille Miglia Storica—an event in which this car participated, in period! Beautifully restored and complete with its original engine, this is a Ferrari worthy of the connoisseur’s close attention.

Steve Ahlgrim

Steve Ahlgrim - SCM Contributing Editor

Steve taught high school auto shop before moving to Atlanta, GA, where his love of sports cars led him to FAF Motorcars, the former Ferrari dealer where he served as General Manager and Vice President. He has been a self-proclaimed “one-trick pony,” coveting the Ferrari marque. He has been involved in concours judging for over 25 years and is a member of the IAC/PFA, an international committee overseeing high-level Ferrari concours judging. He is chief judge of the Celebration Exotic Car Show in Celebration, FL.

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