1948 Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa
Chassis No. 016 I
Engine No. 016 I
Enzo Ferrari had successfully demonstrated the strengths of the evolved 166 engine and drivetrain during his first racing season in 1947. The Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa was his first foray into constructing a competitive race car in answer to the growing interest in supporting private race customers. A total of nine spyder corsas were built in 1948, mostly of re-purposed components from the 1947 season.
Luigi Chinetti, a prominent race car driver and dealer in many of the popular European cars during this era, purchased the next to last 166 SC, chassis 016 I. He set the fastest lap time during his first outing, at the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium (May 1948), before retiring with a blown head gasket. He went on to win the first major endurance race, at the 12 Hours of Montlhéry outside of Paris (September 1948). Following a series of record-breaking times in international speed trials, again at Montlhéry, Chinetti sold 016 I to Connecticut sportsman and ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) driver Briggs Cunningham. It was the second Ferrari to arrive in the US (June 1949).
Prepared by Alfred Momo and driven by George Rand, 016 I was the first Ferrari to be raced in the US, at Bridgehampton (June 1949), setting the fastest lap. This 166 SC, with Briggs Cunningham driving, went on to gain the first US win for Ferrari, at Suffolk County Airport in Westhampton (May 1950). The following September at Watkins Glen, the car was badly damaged while being driven by Sam Collier who, tragically, passed away from his injuries. After that, the car was repaired and raced occasionally, remaining in the Cunningham Collection for the next 33 years. [The full history of 016 I is well documented in Cavallino n.208.]
In the historic timeline of a great racing car, there are numerous points one could choose to represent in the restoration. In collaboration with the current owners it was decided to pick up the story just before the September 1950 damage, before subsequent repairs to the original bodywork and chassis. To complement the authentic restoration the decision was made to paint the body in nitrocellulose lacquer, as it was just prior to that fateful day at the Glen. With time and use the car will earn its own authentic patina.
Unique to this project, the owner asked us not to erase the history of the car. Though the car had a dynamic racing history prior to Watkins Glen, the panels on the car were original, except for three of the cycle fenders which had been remade after the crash. While making the outside of the panels appear as they had before that fateful day at the Glen, our coachbuilders were able to leave some of the telltale battle scars on the inside of the panels. These marks of previous repairs tell a story that would have been lost had we not made an effort to save them.
This philosophy also directed repairs such as the straightening of the frame. It was made true and square at the suspension pick-up points, however it retains the evidence of previous damage and repairs to the main oval frame tube sections. The shocks had to be remanufactured. The engine was in remarkably good condition with a significant number of its original numbered parts having survived, which were retained in the Patrick Ottis rebuild. Research was made manageable with the extensive archive of the Revs Institute, and supplemented by private collections around the world.
We were commissioned to perform this sensitive restoration work for the Revs Institute’s Collier Collection, founded by the nephew of Sam Collier. Today, Spyder Corsa 016 I is one of more than 100 cars on display at the Collier Collection Museum in Naples, Florida. In keeping with their aim for unparalleled access, this 166 SC is often shown and demonstrated at vintage track and concours events around the country.