Minimalist, fast and beautiful: these are the qualities which best describe the "barchettas" which appear in the late 40s, light, racing roadsters without a folding roof or any additional frills, and a tiny windshield to minimise the impact of air. These features were an effective combination which allowed these vehicles to dominate the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio and many other momentous events in their golden years.
By definition, barchette are extremely competitive racing cars of which only a few models are produced, each one with its own history, racing past and interesting backstory. Ferrari in particular can link the origins of its racing history to this exceptional vehicle; for this reason, an incredible exhibition dedicated to the Ferrari barchettas will be held at Auto e Moto d'Epoca in Padua from 24th to 27th October.
The "oldest" among the cars on show in Padua is the 1950 Touring-fitted Ferrari 166 Mille Miglia; it first belonged to Gianni Agnelli, then was sold to an owner in Belgium and was piloted by Olivier Gendebien in car races. The vehicle subsequently became the property of the great Ferrari collector and ex Formula 1 pilot Jacques Swaters, and was exhibited as an Italian designer model at the MoMa in New York and at the Nationalgallerie in Berlin. In 2015, it was one of the stars of the Villa d'Este Elegance Competition.
This car specifically is very unique, as it is linked to the origin of the nickname "barchetta" (little boat). It was Agnelli himself who, upon seeing the polished silhouette of the 166MM exhibited at the 1948 Turin Fair exclaimed: "But this is not a car! It's a small boat!". This comment was recorded by sports journalist Giovanni Canestrini (one of the creators of Mille Miglia) and was mentioned again by Bianchi Anderloni (patron of Milan's Carrozzeria Touring) to refer to the 166 MM open model created for the 1949 Mille Miglia. Since then, the term “barchetta” has become the word used to refer to the entire category of open race cars and was recently used to refer to models exclusively produced in a limited series.
On the opposite end of the temporal spectrum, we find one of the most recent Ferrari Barchetta: the SP Monza. It is the frontrunner of a new limited series designed in Maranello called 'Icon', inspired by the legends of the 50s, which brings together advanced technology and evocative design.
From the 166 MM to the new Monza, there will be many rare models and incredible winners on show at Auto e Moto d'Epoca in Pavilion 3 of the ACI Arena. These include: 340 MM Vignale, 375 MM Pininfarina, one of the four 857 S models ever built, the 750 Monza Ferrari, the 500 Mondial and many more, including a young-timer, the 550 Barchetta. They all have a story to tell here in Padua and aim to keep the hearts and minds of car enthusiasts racing.