Working in modest surroundings with engineers Giochino Colombo, Guiseppe Busso and eventually Aurelio Lampredi, Enzo Ferrari was quickly able to accomplish his singular vision: to develop a powerful, reliable and smooth competition motor using a V12 configuration. In May of 1947, the Tipo 125 was first driven competitively by Franco Cortese at a regional event held at the Piaceuza circuit. Cortese led the race until the final lap when the fuel pump failed. This 125 finished the remainder of the season with success and it became increasingly evident to Ferrari that his engine provided an excellent basis for further development. The Tipo 125 was enlarged from 1497cc to 1902cc to become the Tipo 159. In 1948 it was enlarged again to 1995cc, becoming the Tipo 166, with 166.25cc per cylinder.
The 166, raced throughout the season against stiff competition from Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Cisiralia, won the two most important races, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio. Enzo Ferrari created his first true champion and started the most enduring legend in motor racing history. The 166 Spyder Corsa today represents the oldest surviving racing Ferrari (nine were built), and was intended for either sports car or Formula 2 races. While Ferrari raced his cars to gain publicity, his true intent was to promote the sales of his cars. The first motor show he participated in was in Turin in November, 1948, where he displayed a 166 Mille Miglia and a 166 Inter Coupe, the latter being the first of his 38 examples of his road-going cars. With these early 166 Inter models, it was common practice for Ferrari to provide a base chassis and the customer or dealer could send the car to the coachbuilder of their choice.
Chassis SN 063/S was actually the third of only three Cabriolets built on the 166 series. This handsome car was exhibited at both the Paris and Geneva Salons in October, 1950, and March, 1951, respectively, and is featured in several publications. It was sold by the factory in September, 1950 to Mr. P. Valee of Paris, France. During the 1960s this Ferrari was sold from Switzerland to the U.K. in derelict condition and without an engine. In England, the new owners decided to rebody the car as a replica Corsa Spyder and installed a 250GT engine. Some years later, it arrived in the USA and was donated to the Harrah Museum by Bob Fergus of Columbus, Ohio. It is pictured and captioned on page 216 of Harrah’s Automobile Collection by Dean Batchelor.
Bill Lassiter acquired the Ferrari in September, 1992. The rear of the bodywork had been damaged in transit. In addition, its rear section had an external spare wheel fitted, which was not similar to the original Spyder Corsa tires’ design. Jack Dietz was allowed to measure and photograph the highly original 166 Spyder Corsa (0161) belonging to the Collier Collection and he then faithfully replicated the rear tail section. At the time of press, we were uncertain of the specification of the current Ferrari V12 fitted (which perhaps is the 250GT unit from the UK) and no external stampings seem visible. This is an intriguing special, based upon a true early Ferrari chassis and obviously is a fraction of the price of an original Spyder Corsa, yet in essence has all the charm and attributes of the very first series Ferraris. It would be welcomed at many Ferrari club events as well as at some of the long distance touring rallies.