In 1949, after a couple of years building cars with seemingly random body styles, Ferrari introduced its first model with a clear “Ferrari” identity: the Carrozzeria Touring-bodied 166 MM Barchetta. The so-called “little boat” quickly took the racing world by storm, winning that year’s Mille Miglia and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It’s no wonder, then, that the new car attracted the attention of young gentleman racer Giannino Marzotto, who put in an order for one. Marzotto came from a wealthy, respected family of textile magnates, a stroke of luck that allowed him and his brothers—Vittorio, Paolo, and Umberto—to pursue their dreams of racing. Although he divided his time between his passion and the family business, and never became a full-time racer, Giannino always caused a sensation in the races he entered.
Famously, the sartorial 22-year-old appeared at the start of the 1950 Mille Miglia in a double-breasted brown suit, a shirt, and a tie—and he was still wearing them 13 hours, 39 minutes, and 20 seconds later, when he reappeared in Brescia as the race winner. Driving a Touring-bodied 166 MM/195 S Berlinetta (s/n 0026M), Marzotto had beaten the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Clemente Biondetti, and Luigi Fagioli.
By that time, together with his brothers, Giannino was one of Ferrari’s biggest clients. However, the car featured here proved to be a serious source of strife between him and Enzo Ferrari.
The Marzottos had purchased two Barchettas: s/ns 024MB (the B denoting the car’s engine and chassis numbers were synchronized, a new practice which would continue on future Ferraris), built in February 1950, and 0034M, built in March. While they enjoyed much success with s/n 0034, including Giannino’s victory at that year’s Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti, the young pilot thought the car could be better. Since Enzo Ferrari wouldn’t listen to suggestions voiced by a 20-something amateur, Giannino decided to prove him wrong. In his mind, he had a clear vision of a sleeker, better-balanced car based on a mix of Ferrari mechanicals with some high-tech materials and creative design solutions. He also had in mind a particular coachbuilder: Carrozzeria Fontana.