Ferrari 166 Inter, where the street cars story of the Cavallino starts

The 166 Inter was presented at the Turin Motor Show in 1948, and immediately obtained excellent results both at a commercial and sporting level: with this sportscar Ferrari collected its first victories outside from Italy, while attracting the attention of the prestigious US market, which started to send out signals of strong interest in the cars of Maranello.

As with the 159 S, in the 166 Inter models the bore and stroke measurements of the piston and engine cylinder are redefined, and the custom of making the model both with open wheels and with integral bodywork is maintained.

The 166 Inter model was in production from 1948 to 1950 both in the road and the more successful sport version, along with the 166 MM Barchetta.

Starting from this model, it will become tradition to use odd chassis numbers for production cars. The 166 Inter has been in production for a total of thirty-seven models, with chassis numbers from 007 to 079.

Usually the bodywork is the coupé type, but four models were made in the form of convertibles, and designed by the Farina factories, and in a single element by Bertone.

All the best Italian coachbuilders began to show their projects for this series of models, each following his own philosophy, with the aim of creating a suit complaining with the Ferrari style. In addition to the Farina factories, Bertone and the Touring bodywork (the latter will produce the first 166 Sport coupé for the Turin Motor Show in 1948), prototypes of the 166 Inter were also built by the well-known Ghiaia and Vignale.

The ones produced by Carrozzeria Vignale will be the most numerous: the similarity of their models with the 166 Barchetta is quite evident, despite a frame with a longer wheelbase and a soft three-volume coupé-type line. The bodies produced by the Farina and Ghia factories have very similar lines to each other, and offer a two-volume coupé design which, however, appears slightly heavier, when compared with the conceived interpretation of the Touring.

From the waistline down, the Cabriolets from Stabilimenti Farina are virtually identical to the coupé version: as with the model produced by Bertone, their folding roof is made of canvas. Vignale's proposal also is a two-volume coupé type, but with a lighter line than the one made by Farina and Ghia: compared to the version of the latter, the car offers a sportier image, thus achieving greater popularity and a greater number of cars produced by Vignale himself, beaten only by the Touring version.

Two specimens of the same coachbuilder may appear identical at first glance, but each car body is assembled by hand, specifically following the customer's requests, who is granted the opportunity to satisfy his personal stylistic needs, making each car a completely unique example. Between one car and another, therefore, you can see numerous differences in detail, sometimes in the radiator grille, or perhaps in the arrangement of the headlights.

The machines of the Inter series, born as road cars, often led their owners in competitions, obtaining, among other things, good results, despite the heavier bodies than the models designed specifically for racing.

The greater weight is also a consequence of the interior fittings, which in these cars are obviously complete with everything. Since the Inter series is designed for road use, the front and rear bumpers are part of its normal equipment: reduced to a minimum and usually covered with rubber strips in the Touring versions, they become more massive and chromed ornaments in the Ghia proposals, Farina and Vignale.

The mechanical setting, on the 2420 mm frame made of tubular steel, is very similar to the one used in racing cars: an aluminum V12 engine that for the first time reaches two liters of displacement, combined with a gearbox five-speed, which transmits the motion to the rear rigid axle. The name of the car derives from the value of the unitary displacement of the engine, equal to 166.25 cm³.

The engines of these models are equipped with double distributor and double distributor, and are equipped with a single double-barrel carburetor. But for those who want it, however, a battery of three double-barrel carburetors is available on request, thanks to which the engine power is increased.

These Ferrari models are the only ones to fit sheet metal wheel rims, as an alternative to the more popular and sporty spoked wheels. In any case, the wheel hub is of the Rudge type, sometimes hidden under a chromed wheel cup. DATA SHEET

Coupé, convertible, 2+2 or 2 seats

Wheelbase 2620 mm

Front track 1250 mm

Rear track 1200 mm

Weight 900 kg when empty


Front, longitudinal, 12V 60°

Bore and stroke 60 x 58.8 mm

Unit displacement 166.25 cm³

Total displacement 1995.02 cm³

Compression ratio 6.8:1

Maximum power 66 kW (90 hp) at 5600 rpm

Specific power 45 hp/liter

Single shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder

I feed a Weber 32 DCF carburettor

Mono ignition, two distributors

Wet sump lubrication

Single plate clutch


Tubular steel

Independent front suspension, transverse wishbones, transverse leaf spring, hydraulic shock absorbers

Rigid axle rear suspension, longitudinal semi-elliptical leaf springs, hydraulic shock absorbers, stabilizer bar

Drum brakes

Five-speed gearbox + RM

Worm and sector steering

Fuel tank capacity 72 liters

Front tires 5.50x15

Rear tires 5.50x15


Maximum speed 150 km/h

Simone Pietro Zazza