The third Ferrari in production, built starting in 1951, although not one of the most talked about among enthusiasts, plays an important role, indeed, fundamental in the family tree of the Prancing Horse since it gives way to the most prestigious association in history of motoring: that between Ferrari and Pininfarina.
At the beginning of the 1950s, Ferrari was a young and small artisan company, mainly focused in the field of motor sport. However, the mythological figure of the founder Enzo and the first victories on the race weekends have already made the Prancing Horse a cult, object of desires for wealthy customers, eager to drive those cars on the public road.
The Ferrari 212 Inter takes up the philosophy of its ancestors 166 and 195, that is a Gran Turismo derived directly from the racing version, made only a little more docile and touristic. It also inherits the name from the previous models, given that the figure 212 indicates the unit displacement, while the suffix Inter distinguishes the road model from the Export model, designed exclusively for racing.
Another internal separation concerns the chassis numbers: as per Ferrari tradition, the road frames (Inter) are odd accompanied by the initials EL or EU while the Export versions are marked with even numbers and suffixes E or, alternatively, ED.
The sporting genes inherited from the 212 are of excellent quality, and you can see it right down to the smallest details. Until mid-1952 the car existed only with right-hand drive, in English, because this configuration was used by professional drivers: riders like Taruffi and Chinetti, who won the 1951 Carrera Panamericana ahead of the Ascari-Villoresi duo. Both crews drove a Ferrari 212 Inter.
If you write about Ferrari, and mention the world of racing, you cannot fail to describe the engine, which has always been a cornerstone of every Ferrari. An aspect that is so dear to the founder, since his quotes dedicated to the engine will be wasted, to the point of making it a philosophy of life and business.
The 12-cylinder is a further evolution of the block designed by Gioachino Colombo, despite the separation from Ferrari in 1951. Made of light alloy and V-shaped with an angle of sixty degrees, it now reaches 2.562 cm³ thanks to the bore, which now it reaches 68 millimeters compared to the previous 60, coming to release a power that varies from 130 to 170 hp depending on the type of power supply fitted.
This discrepancy manifests once again the close, almost visceral, relationship between the road and racing Ferraris: if originally the power supply is made up of a double-barrel carburetor 36 inches, it is not surprising how some customers decide to have the configuration used installed. in competitions, which involves the use of three double-barrel carburetors.
The Ferrari 212, thanks to its engine, has a double soul: it can be velvety and progressive, thanks to the large torque available that allows you to unload power to the ground in a homogeneous and elastic way, but when you are serious it transforms, offering brilliant performance and an immediate response to the will of the driver, provided that the latter knows how to do it with the steering wheel in his hands.
The gearbox is obviously a five-speed manual, not very easy to maneuver. However, the faster you drive, the better it responds to commands.
The frame is structural in steel, derived from that of the 166MM, therefore a guarantee of the racing DNA. The front suspensions are independent combined with wishbones and transverse leaf springs equipped with Houdaille shock absorbers, the same that we find at the rear, where the suspension scheme is made up of a rigid bridge with longitudinal semi-eliptical leaf springs.
In the last examples of 1952, directly from the racing department, some chassis named Tubo-body are set up, that is a semi-monocoque tubular conceived and designed by Gilberto Colombo known as Gilco.
The Gran Turismo versions, however, are still easily recognizable due to the increased wheelbase which measures 2600 millimeters, compared to the 2.250 millimeters of the Export models.
Once at the wheel, its technical characteristics emerge overwhelmingly. The handling is unique, enhanced by a steering that gradually increases speed becomes more and more precise and accurate in following the trajectories drawn by the driver, transmitting the sensations of the asphalt without filters. The chassis responds very well with a stable and sharp car, not very prone to rolling and hopping dictated by road imperfections.
The only weak point is represented by the four drum brakes which, when stressed, suffer from fading, or the tendency to lengthen braking times, but this is a defect common to all cars of this era, and it must not it is surprising to know that the steering wheel axles use the motor brake to avoid this inconvenience.
The driving position is not the most ergonomic with a sunken seat that forces you to keep your back straight, not very inclined to sporty driving. The large three-spoke steering wheel with wooden crown partially covers the two circular instruments positioned on the dashboard, as is the case in most of the examples made. However, being a tailor-made car, each model has a story of its own, and therefore it is not surprising to see some models with the instrumentation housed in the center of the dashboard.
Another striking example of how the interior can change appearance are the seats themselves: shell in the sportiest configurations, while if the customer prefers a more touristic environment, the seats became larger and more comfortable, as well as equipped with armrests covered in precious material.
Again with regard to the interior, the fil rouge that unites the rough and spartan world of sports equipment and the unpretentious luxury of the tourist one are the precious materials with which they are made: wood, leather, velvets and chrome plating. they are wasted but without ever being tacky or heavy.
It is even more complicated, and therefore even more fascinating, to describe the exterior.
Made in just over eighty units, the 212 Inter involved as many as seven body shops that ventured into their own construction: Abbott, Ghia-Aigle, Ghia, Pininfarina, Farina, Touring and Vignale factories.
Produced both closed and open, it takes various names such as berlinetta, coupé, cabriolet and spyder, based on the nomenclature chosen by the designer on duty.
The most popular are the 212 Vignale, built in all possible configurations, among which twenty-six examples of the coupé model stand out.
While maintaining the proportions and physiognomy of the very first Ferraris, among these creations some very original ones stand out but which, with today's eyes, are a little too full of decorative elements and chrome. Definitely more attractive are the Vignale coupes built with strong sporting references, where essentiality and minimalism become the main aesthetic ingredients of these Gran Tursimo.
Among the coachbuilders it is impossible not to mention Pininfarina. A collaboration between the two myths of world motoring will begin from the 212 Inter. Long-lasting and almost exclusive partnership with a relationship that has never ended in recent years, not even very recently, despite the fact that the Maranello house has opened its own style center.
The first meeting between these two living legends is an episode worthy of the best anthology: the historic appointment, thanks to Sergio Pininfarina's diplomatic work, took place in May 1951 in a restaurant in Tortona, province of Alessandria.
This meeting on the neutral field is agreed because neither of the two great old men, Enzo on one side and Battista on the other, want to take the first step towards the other purely out of pride, and therefore the decision of the goal falls on the small town of Alexandria because they located exactly halfway between Maranello and Turin.
The successor Sergio will be responsible and glue of the new collaboration, who since the very first units built tries to give Ferrari and the Reds a precise and recognizable identity, something that was still missing.
The Ferrari 212 Inter, despite being only the beginning of a decades-long adventure, already has the first typical features of the Prancing Horse, especially in the front, characterized by an oval-shaped grille with a square-rectangular texture. This, appropriately tapered and developed, will represent the distinctive element of the future 250, while the rear is more immature, which does not yet offer any noteworthy stylistic developments.
The touch of the Turin atelier is also seen in the proportions and treatment of the surfaces, as per tradition, and in some stylistic details that recall other works designed in Pininfarina, such as the Cisitalia 202.
In conclusion, the Ferrari 212 Inter, despite being one of the lesser known jewels of the Maranello house, remains an excellent example of Gran Turismo. A perfect racing car in an elegant dress, able to offer a lot to the driver, as long as the latter is up to it because brilliant performance is achieved only by experienced drivers able to make the most of the mechanical vehicle.
Furthermore, from a traditional and identity point of view, the value and importance of the 212 have no equal, since it marks the beginning of the partnership between Ferrari and Pininfarina, who together will be able to work together to become two icons of style and Italian performance recognized and admired all around the world.
Coupé, convertible, 2 or 2+2 seats
Front engine position
Size and Weights
Front track 1270 mm
Rear track 1250 mm
Wheelbase 2600 mm
Unladen mass 1000 Kg (coupé)
105 liters tank
Displacement 2562.51 cm³
Type V12 60°, front, longitudinal
Bore and stroke 68x58.8 mm
Compression ratio 7.5:1
Unit displacement 213.54 cm³
Single shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder
Powered by a Weber 36 DCF carburettor
Power 110 kW/150 hp at 6500 rpm
Specific Power 58 hp/liter (118 Kw/liter) and 197 nm/liter
Torque 760 Nm at 3000-5750 rpm
Mono ignition, two distributors
Wet sump lubrication
Single plate clutch
Five-speed gearbox + RM
Independent front suspension, transverse wishbones, transverse leaf spring, Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear suspension with rigid bridge, longitudinal semi-elliptical leaf springs, Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers
Worm and sector steering
6.4x15 front tires
Rear tires 6.40x15
Maximum speed 200 Km/h
Shoots from 40 to 140 km/h in 16.7 seconds, from 80 to 120 km/h in 7.5 seconds, and from 80 to 180 km/h in 36.1 seconds