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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Stunning 1950 Inter Barchetta at Rick Cole Monterey Auction!

Among some 40 of the most desirable and fascinating sports and classic cars to be offered at the upcoming Rick Cole auction in Monterey, California during the world-famous Monterey Car Week is a beautifully restored 1950 Ferrari 166 Inter with open Barchetta coachwork in the Superleggera style of Carrozzeria Touring. Numbered 0049/S, it was one of the 166 Iner coupes that formed part of Ferrari's very first, albeit limited-production, road-car series. In fact, it was originally the sole chassis of the 37-car 166 Inter run to be produced with sophisticated two-seat Berlinetta coachwork by Ghia. Be sure to visit the auction site at for the entire sale catalogue, including this vehicle. Here is its story.

Historic as the very first road-car series from Ferrari, the 2.0-litre 166 Inter was produced in a limited run of just 37 in all during 1949 and 1950. All were built in bare-chassis form by Ferrari and then cloaked in custom bodywork in a wide variety of Barchetta, Cabriolet, and Coupe body styles designed by Italy’s top custom coachbuilders including Allemano, Bertone, Ghia, Stabilimenti Farina, Touring, and Vignale. Derived from the competition 125 and 166 Sport models, the 166 Inter was in basic essence a thinly disguised racing car in GT form as Enzo Ferrari was not yet fully committed to road-car production. However, the time was ripe for a road model from Ferrari, given the rising excitement and demand generated by the Scuderia’s stellar victory record it amassed since it was established in 1940.

In typical Ferrari practice, the 166 Inter’s “166” model designation denoted the swept volume of each of the Gioacchino Colombo-designed SOHC 2.0-liter engine’s 12 cylinders. Rated power output ranged from 100 to 140 bhp with single to triple carburetors. The “Inter” moniker was in tribute to the high-profile racing victories earned by Scuderia Inter for Ferrari at the Targa Florio, the notoriously dangerous Sicilian race, in 1948 (Troubetzkoy/Biondetti) and repeated for 1949 (Biondetti/Benedetti). While the “Inter” name was also given to some Ferrari racing cars during this era, it most often is applies to the 2.0-litre, 166 Inter road-car series. Nonetheless, several 166 Inters were indeed used in competition.    

Just one of the 37 examples of the 166 Inter – numbered 0049/S – was originally built with berlinetta-type coachwork by Ghia. The origin of Chassis 0049/S is very well-documented in a number of reference books on Ferrari road cars by respected marque historians. Its original data is listed in Ferrari Serial Numbers: Part I, compiled by Hilary A. Raab, Jr., an essential Ferrari resource. In Antoine Prunet’s Ferrari: the Road Cars, a very nice ¾-rear photograph and an image of the driver’s side interior compartment of 0049/S appears on page 39 of the book. Featuring very pleasing bodylines and a gently rounded fastback roofline, the Ghia berlinetta’s other highlights included horizontal front-fender vents, striking two-tone upholstery, restrained yet effective brightwork, finely detailed body hardware and fittings, and chrome Borrani wire-spoke wheels. While somewhat conservative, the overall effect of Ghia’s work on 0049/S was most pleasing and unlike many other contemporary designs, it is all the more attractive today with the passage of time.

While Turin’s Carrozzeria Ghia only executed the bodywork for 0049/S during the short production run of the 166 Inter, elements of it directly influenced at least 25 Ghia berlinettas on the 195 Inter and 212 Inter chassis that would soon follow. Well-known to Ferrari collectors, Boano would later go on to form his own carrozzeria, which produced the 250 GT “Boano” coupes at the behest of Pinin Farina. As described by Prunet, Ghia “…made its entry into the select circle of Ferrari body builders under the impetus of its principal stylist, Mario Boano, another former employee of Stabilimenti Farina. The first Ghia/Boano Ferrari (probably 049/S) was built in 1950 and took the form of a fastback, two-place, four-window coupe with pure and sober lines that approximate the proportions of the Bertone cabriolet and the Michelotti-Vignale coupes. A peculiarity of Ghia during this period was the almost exclusive use of sheet steel, in contrast to the other body builders who generally worked in aluminum. The most striking original feature of the Ghia 166 Inter coupe was the design of the grille, with the top edge raised in the center to mark the converging lines of the hood.”

Following completion during 1950, 0049/S was delivered that year through official Ferrari dealer Inico Bernabei in Rome. According to known history, the first owner of 0049/S was Signore Jazzetta of Naples. Subsequently, 0049/S was sold to the United States and it is likely that a second number was stamped onto the chassis (0070), likely to expedite its importation process. Circa 1975, 0049/S was owned by R. Costa of San Diego, who is reported to have sold the 2.0-litre engine to Dave Selway of Danville, California, who installed it into 0079/S, a 166 Inter coupe. The engineless 0049/S was next sold to the Northeast, passing through Ferrari dealer and marque authority Stanley Nowak of New York City, then Ed Bond of Connecticut, and then Ralph C. Welch. By 1975, 0049/S was owned by Ronald Walden of Downey, California, and fitted with the 3.0-litre engine from a 250 GT Boano coupe. A fire broke out in the garage where 0049/S was being stored and damaged much of the trim, glass and interior of the coupe body. The car had been partly dismantled prior to the fire and parts were stored in different sections throughout the garage. Thankfully, the body and some trim survived. Prior to the fire, the Ghia body was stock from the cowl back, while the nose was reconfigured to a Pinin Farina-style configuration with an oval egg-crate grille and the hood mounting a scoop.

During the mid-1980s, 0049/S was acquired by Charles Betz and Fred Peters of the Orange, California area. Thanks to these longstanding and well-known collectors and restorers, a number of very rare and significant Ferrari models once deemed beyond repair were brought back to life for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. During the 1990s, the original 2.0-litre V-12 engine of 0049/S was reunited by Betz and Peters with the chassis and the vehicle was restored with Brooke Betz, Charles’ son, heavily involved in the project. While the original steel Ghia body survived the 1970s garage fire, the decision was made to instead restore 0049/S with a new open body in the style of the racing 166 MM barchettas by Carrozzeria Touring with their Superleggera (superlight) process replicated using a network of small-diameter tubular framing underneath the alloy outer panelwork. As recently related by Charles Betz, the basic body panels were shaped by an experienced craftsman who learned his art in England and the body was assembled and finished at noted Ferrari expert Michael Sheehan’s European Auto Sales and Restoration in Costa Mesa, California. A correct-type five-speed gearbox and differential were mounted to the rebuilt V-12 engine.  

Most handsomely finished, detailed, and trimmed, the reborn 0049/S made its show debut at the May/June Ferrari Club of America (FCA) annual meeting and concours in Dallas, Texas. Next, 0049/S was displayed at the August 2001 edition of Concorso Italiano. In May 2002, the Ferrari as displayed in Class 1 at the Los Angeles FCA National Concours. The most recent showing of 0049/S was at the August 2008 Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue, where it was awarded the Continental Cup. In August 2010, 0049/S was acquired via auction by the current owner, who placed it into his very private personal car collection. At the time, 0049/S garnered the admiration of all in attendance at its sale for its virtually impeccable quality and charismatic presentation, fitting accolades for the Ferrari’s saviors.

As now offered, 0049/S has been serviced, tuned, and detailed by professionals. The original Ghia bodyshell and miscellaneous trim items in boxes are included with the sale of the Ferrari, with shipping at the purchaser’s expense. Several photographs on file for inspection depict the car prior to the unfortunate garage fire and several images show the Ghia body more recently, which could certainly be restored and possibly returned to the chassis. Since this Ghia body is the only one of the entire 37-car run of the 166 Inter and it certainly influenced the Ghia bodies later used on the 195 Inter and 212 Inter, it is worthy of preservation and appreciation in its own right, perhaps restored and trimmed as original, as a wonderful companion piece.

Many thanks to Writegeist,, and Michael T. Lynch/ for their kind and generous assistance with photos.

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