Cars We Love: 1948 Ferrari 166 Corsa Spyder


The first Ferrari to win a major race and the first Ferrari to be exported to the United States, the 166 has a storied racing history. Enzo Ferrari spent most of the 1920s and 1930s working at Alfa Romeo, designing cars, racing, and managing the company’s racing program. In the late 1930s he struck out on his own, founding a company that supplied parts to racing teams. During World War II, his company was forced into wartime production for the Italian government.

After the war ended, Ferrari began making cars under his own name; the 166 was the first car he built. Powered by a V12 engine, the 166 was an immediate success on the racetrack, winning the famed Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio in 1948.  The 166 Spyder Corsa shown here won the 12 Hours of Montlhery race and set several speed records.

The car was purchased and brought to the United States in 1949 by Briggs Cunningham, an American entrepreneur and racing enthusiast. The car claimed its first victory at the Suffolk County Airport Race on New York’s Long Island, driven by Cunningham himself. Cunningham’s college friend Sam Collier placed second with the 166 at the Bridgehampton Sports Car Races a month later. Sadly, Collier would lose control of the car while in third place at the 1950 Watkins Glen Grand Prix. He was thrown from the car and died later that day. The car was retired from competition not long after; it can be found today in the Collier Collection museum in Naples, Florida.


Photo by James Bond



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