LOST AND FOUND

by Mike Sheehan
(Ferrari Market Letter—Vol. 24 #13, 26 June 1999 issue)

S/N 0047 S

Trainspotters are a unique English subculture of individuals who wander out in the moors in rain, sleet and snow, recording the serial numbers on the sides of passing freight cars, passenger cars and locomotives. These numbers are dutifully entered into log books and put into databases so that the numbers, locations and travels of virtually every train can be carefully plotted and tracked. Once recorded, this information is then swapped with other trainspotters to build a network of information far superior to that of British Rail. Only in England.

The Ferrari world has a similar tiny subculture of only a few dozen people worldwide, including yours truly, who have dedicated much of a lifetime to recording race results and ownership data on their favorite model Ferraris. The ultimate goal of every “Ferrari trainspotter” is finding that elusive “Ferrari in a barn” or “hidden treasure” that's been missing from the world’s collective Ferrari database for decades.

Ferrari 166 Inter, S/N 0047 S was such a car, missing for many years. 0047 S was one of the first “street model” Ferraris built, bodied by Touring as a fastback berlinetta, fitted with an Aerlux sunroof, and finished in a dark blue with red interior. In July of 1950 the car was sold to Luigi Pomini of Varese, Italy. Then in 1953 it was returned to the factory and updated with triple DCF Weber carburetors, giving a few more horsepower. S/N 0047 S is one of the few 166 Inters fitted with three carburetors.

In 1956 a later owner, Bruno Martiguoni, abandoned the car in Morocco when it suffered a major mechanical breakdown and the car disappeared from the Ferrari world. Unknown to the Ferrari community, in the late 1950’s the car was acquired by a U.S. Air Force officer and transported back to Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. S/N 0047 S later found its way to a used car lot in Omaha and was sold to Jim Nicas, an architect in Omaha, in 1961.

While I’d known of rumors regarding a missing 166 Inter Ferrari in the Midwest for years, it took a great deal of time, many hours of research, and networking through the Ferrari community to track the car down, locate the owner and eventually arrange an opportunity to meet the owner and car.

I had the opportunity to inspect S/N 0047 S and was pleased to find that in his 38 years of ownership Mr. Nicas had kept the car very well maintained, going to great lengths to keep it as original as possible with the exception of painting the car red with black interior. While it had the usual vague front suspension geometry, an in–or–out clutch, perfunctory brakes and the recalcitrant non–synchromesh transmission common to all early Ferraris, it ran and drove well, was accident–free, and had to be considered as one of the most original and unmolested early Ferraris in existence.

Ferrari 166 Inter S/N 0047 S eventually sold to a new owner. After being lost to the Ferrari world for over 40 years, hopefully it will soon be appearing at vintage rallies and concours events in the U.S.A.

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