The first customer delivered Ferrari, the ex-Works Raymond Sommer, Count Gabriele Besana, Franco Cortese 1949 Mille Miglia entry
1947 FERRARI 166 SPIDER CORSA TWO-SEATER SPORTS RACING CAR
Chassis No. 002-C
Engine No. 002-C
Red with red leather interior
Engine: V12, twin overhead camshafts, 1,992cc, 145bhp at 7,500rpm; Gearbox: five-speed manual; Suspension: independent front by unequal length wishbones and coil-spring damper units, rear live axle with semi-elliptic transverse spring; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic drums. Right hand drive.
It was during World War II that Enzo Ferrari and Gioacchino Colombo were already hatching plans to build an automobile named after the pre-war Alfa Romeo Works team manager. It wasn't long after Italy's surrender, by the middle of 1946, that the first two cars were under construction. These were entirely new cars produced with specifically built components, unlike the Fiat-based 815s that were hastily put together for the 1940 Mille Miglia. All of the very first cars were powered by the V12 type 125 engine of 1,500ci engine capacity (12 X 125ci per cylinder), rated at producing 72bhp at 5,600rpm, breathing through three Weber 30 DCF carburetors. During the following summer, the engine capacities were enlarged to 1,900ci thereby giving birth to the 159 model. Just like the previous cars, these were in fact a modified version of the same chassis, but remained the property of the factory and were exclusively campaigned on the racetrack, thereby laying the solid foundation to the marque's racing heritage from the outset. They could be seen at Piacenza, Pescara, Rome, Varese, Parma, Florence and last but not least Modena. Towards the end of 1947 on October 12th, the Turin-winning car in the hands of French Grand Prix driver Raymond Sommer, was to become the first Tipo 166 Spider Corsa. Engine capacity was now up to 1,992ci (12 X 166ci per cylinder). To quote the Commendatore himself: "when my old friend Gioacchino Colombo joined me at my new workshops at Maranello, we resolved that we would embark on a more ambitious project: a 12 cylinder of 1½ litre capacity. I had always thought after a 12 cylinder (and) I had always liked the song of 12 cylinders. That 12 cylinder was the ancestor of all Ferrari engines. All we wanted to do was build a conventional engine, but one that would be outstanding." A legend was born!
Ferrari 166SC chassis 002-C was one of three such models constructed in 1947 by the world famous Italian marque and according to records, the first customer delivered car from Maranello. It was the first 166 Spider Corsa to be sold to a private customer and carried matching engine and chassis nos. 002-C when sold on January 19th, 1948 to Gabriele Besana, an Italian aristocrat and gentleman racer. A virtually identical sister car, also re-engined to Tipo 166 specification and also based on one of the 1947 factory chassis, was sold two months later on March 16th to his elder brother. The siblings had arranged for a form of 'factory supported' purchase agreement to be drawn up, enabling them to profit from regular model upgrades and thereby remain competitive on the track. It was really no more than a return to Enzo Ferrari's pre-war activity as head of Scuderia Ferrari which too would maintain and race prepare customer cars in their own Modena workshops. Chassis 002-C next appeared in Buenos Aires as its owner had been attracted by the South American 'Temporada' series, later moving on to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil. It was back in Italy though that the two brothers, with chassis 002-C and 004-C respectively, achieved their greatest successes. Both Gabriele and his brother Soave campaigned the 166SC models extensively over the next year. They put Brazilian driver Francesco 'Chico' Landi in one of the cars and he went on to win the Bari Grand Prix; they themselves achieved a second place at Naples, a third in the tough Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti and a fourth at Lake Garda. As late as 1949 Gabriele Besana shared 002-C with Ferrari Works driver Franco Cortese in the famous Mille Miglia with start number 630. Their enthusiasm seemed to then slowly dwindle and little was heard of the brothers after 1949, when 002-C was put up for sale. The car next appeared in the hands of the brother of the great 1950s lady racer, Maria Theresa de Filippis. Luigi de Filippis didn't keep the car for long and it quickly resurfaced in Florence. It was at Renato Nocentini's 'Garage Rotunda', then the Ferrari dealer for the region, that the original and by now rather tired SC specification bodywork was replaced by an aerodynamically more efficient design in the form of a new wheel-enveloping body by Rocco Motto.
At this point the American connection first comes into the history of 002-C, when New Yorker Dr. Samuel Scher purchased the car while on a visit to Tuscany and exported it to the USA, registering it as a 1953 model. He didn't keep the car for long and entrusted the sale of the car to New York broker, Irwin Goldschmidt. The car subsequently passed into the hands of Frank Adams who, after having the engine rebuilt by Bill Wonder, contested the year of registration for the car and an out of court settlement was found with the vendor. By now 002-C was again on the market and purchased by Don Vitale of Waterbury, Connecticut, selling the car later to Richard O'Hare of Westfield, Massachusetts. Reportedly the price was $3,500 and its new custodian enjoyed the car, taking it on trips to race meetings and Ferrari Club of America events. It was at one of these events that he ran into renowned Ferrari historian and authority Stan Nowak, who finally managed to convince O'Hare to sell him the car for what he had bought it for. Nowak kept the car for a period until it passed on to well-known Ferrari collector, Carl Bross in 1969. Under Nowak's supervision, Bross commissioned the car's bodywork to be returned to original Spider Corsa specification as it left the factory in 1947. Del's Auto Body of New York were entrusted with the work and the project was undertaken in such a professional way that the Bessana sister car 004-C was sourced and put on loan alongside as a pattern for 002-C's new body. Unfortunately before the work was completed, Carl Bross died and the project was shelved.
A few years later in 1972, well-known Ferrari aficienado and head of the JCB empire, Anthony Bamford purchased the entire Bross collection; obviously 002-C was included but left as found. Stanley Nowak didn't lose track of the car though and brokered the car to Bill Zunkel of New York and David Cohen of Vancouver. In their hands the restoration of 002-C was completed to the same high standards that Carl Bross had set himself.
By 1983 the Spider Corsa was sitting proud on the immaculate lawns of Pebble Beach, where during the annual concours it won the 'Charles Chayne Special Award'. Over the next decade 002-C was further restored, cosseted and improved upon, and on August 24th, 1994, the now superbly presented first customer Ferrari stole the show at Quail Lodge's Concorso Italiano.
A year later it was sold to well-known collectors, David and Ginny Sydorick of Beverly Hills, California. The Sydoricks finally provided the Spider Corsa with all of the recognition that it deserved, showing it at the Cavallino Classic, as well as on the ultimate Ferrari celebration to date, the marque's 50th anniversary, in Rome, Maranello and Modena in 1997. Life was not all quiet and static for 002-C though and after thorough mechanical preparation, Sydorick took up the challenge of completing the Mille Miglia rerun with none other than former Le Mans winner and 1961 Ferrari world champion, Phil Hill at the wheel. Mr. Hill's words in the Road & Track article he later wrote were as follows: "I loved these early Ferrari V12s. An important aspect of the Ferrari engine is its multiple stages of performance. The more revs you use, the more power and torque are available."
A lengthy article was later written by David Sydorick for Cavallino, entitled 'An Italian Dream'. Over the years the car has been featured in numerous publications such as Car & Driver and more recently, Classic Cars.
002-C, the first in the now legendary 'even-numbered chassis racing Ferraris', fitted with the original style spider corsa coachwork with its outrigged cycle wings, is more than just a car - it is a landmark in what to many is the greatest racing and sports car marque of all time. The car has current FIA papers and is offered in superb cosmetic and mechanical condition, straight from one of Europe's premier single marque collections. Shown as recently as a couple of months ago as the star attraction at Ferrari North America's 50th anniversary celebration in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, with its continual traceable heritage, 002-C certainly represents an integral part of the Ferrari legend.