It was the V12 engine that distinguished Ferrari from its very beginning in the early postwar period. In its first iteration, designed by Gioacchino Colombo and launched as the Type 125, it was diminutive with only 1,500 cc. This engine was the subject of continuous development, through ever larger bore diameters, eventually leading to the legendary 250 series, which powered the 250GT ‘Tour de France,’ 250TR ‘Testa Rossa,’ the iconic 250GTO and the 250LM mid-engine racers.
The first sustained taste of competition success however came with the 2-litre alternation, the 166MM (‘Mille Miglia’) of 1950, producing 140bhp. After a run of yet larger displacement engines, in 1953 Ferrari returned to these roots with an updated version of the 166MM (which was to become known as the 166MM ‘Series II’ or Tipo 166MM/53) and built a very limited run of about 13 examples, most of them with Vignale coachwork both in Spyder and Berlinetta form (one Pinin Farina berlinetta being the exception).
Now with some 160bhp, this new version of the two-litre 12 cylinder engine was improved using roller cam followers, an innovation derived from the Lampredi ‘big block’ Ferrari V12s and mated to a sturdy five-speed gearbox (with synchromesh on third and fourth gears). These cars were specifically intended to win the two-liter class of the races then being run for sports cars. The 166MM/53’s chassis was the usual Ferrari type of the period: two oval longerons cross-braced with more oval tubing. The wheelbase for these little two-liter cars was a mere 2,250 mm. The front suspension was by unequal length wishbones, an anti-roll bar and a transverse leaf spring. At the rear, semi-elliptic springs supported a solid rear axle, which was located by upper and lower pairs of radius arms. Braking was provided by huge, hydraulically operated aluminum drums with steel liners and Borrani wire wheels were fitted as standard.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
160 bhp @ 7,200 rpm, 1,995cc V12 engine with single overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, magneto ignition, triple Weber 36mm DCF downdraft carburetors, five-speed gearbox. Front suspension by independent double wishbones with a transverse leaf spring. Rear suspension consists of a rigid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. Hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,250 mm.