Reborn: 1953 Ferrari 166 MM Spider by Vignale
With just a few months to go before this year’s Mille Miglia retrospective, at the Chorleywood workshops of DK Engineering the finishing touches are being applied to chassis 0314 M, a 1950s Ferrari with significant period history and a remarkable life in recent years.
Carrying striking Vignale, rather than Touring, bodywork, the car’s first owner was the well-known Ferrari privateer Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi, a driver with a career stretching well into the 1960s. In 1953, Lualdi-Gabardi energetically campaigned the car in hillclimbs and races, including the September-run Supercortemaggiore race at Monza. The following year, in new ownership (Primo Pezzoli from Leffe, Northern Italy), the now three-litre car ran in the Giro di Sicilia and as race number '542' in the famous Mille Miglia.
The 1954 race from Brescia to Rome and back again was won by Ascari in a Lancia. Neither the factory, nor privateer, V12 Ferraris fared terribly well - although Vittorio Marzotto did come second overall in a four-cylinder Mondial – and the car you see here failed to finish.
Pezzoli used the car a few more times that year before selling it.
Its history from then onwards follows a familiar route of racing in more minor events and then moving around the world as a collectors’ car, finding its way to DK’s then-Watford premises in the early 1990s for a full restoration.
Suitably refreshed, chassis 0314 M was enjoyed by one, then another German collector before what would turn out to be a fateful entry in the 2000 Mille Miglia retrospective.
After the finish of the event, the car’s owners were mortified to discover that it had been stolen from outside their hotel in Brescia. It later reappeared (in 2008) in an Italian scrapyard with no engine or gearbox.
So, it was back to DK Engineering - now settled in its state-of-the-art Chorleywood premises - to lovingly restore the car. The decision was made to paint the still-original aluminium Vignale bodywork in the attractive silver/dark red colour scheme of its 1993 restoration.
Visiting DK the other day, I saw the open two-seater well on its way to completion. The rebuilt engine and gearbox are in (not original to the car, but of a type specific to the model in period), and the skilled technicians were finishing the wiring harness and trimming the interior. The level of preparation is awesome; its mostly original components are tested and re-finished, and supplemented by beautifully fabricated metalwork in the style of the period.
Glancing proudly at the triple-Weber set-up, DK’s master, ‘classic’ Ferrari engine-builder said: “This is going to be one fast car...”
Jeremy Cottingham of DK Engineering is very excited about the project and cannot wait for May, when the potent two-tone Ferrari 166 MM Spider will return to Italian roads on the re-running of the Mille Miglia, fully supported by the company's race team. It should be quite a sight.
If you want to know more about the car, or discuss similar projects, give Jeremy a call on +44 (0)1923 287687 or email [email protected].
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Classic Driver / DK Engineering
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