High bid of $350,000 at 2011 RM Auctions at Monterey. (did not sell)
There, in the flickering heat waves, sat a brilliant red Ferrari preparing to do battle in yet another Formula One. Sitting there in the heat was a turbocharged beast of more than 700 bhp. In the wind and the blowing sand of Zolder, a Ferrari 126 C4 sat ready. The green light would flash on and the car would bolter and carry Michele Alboreto to his first victory.
The Belgian Grand Prix had started out well for Alboreto as the 126 C4 would carry the young Italian to his first pole of his career. Ferrari had struggled through the first couple of races of the season, but by the time the team had arrived in Zolder some changes had been made and the result would be apparent.
The 126 C4 would be the last iteration of the 126C, which would debut in 1980. The first model would be developed with a V6 turbo and ground effects aerodynamics. Although detuned to 550 bhp, the speeds of the Ferrari would be too much for the poor design of the chassis. Gilles Villeneuve would call the first model a, 'big red Cadillac'. The powerful engine suffered from terrible turbo lag, which would cause the car to break loose, overcoming the ground effects. Therefore, the car's handling was very difficult. This would eventually give way to the 126CK. The 126CK would prove to be much better on the faster circuits, but Villeneuve would manage to score back-to-back victories at Monaco and Spain.
The troubles of the 126CK would need to be addressed if Ferrari had any hope of battling for the championship. Harvey Poslethwaite would come to Ferrari and would take over development of the chassis. Poslethwaite would immediate go to work and would create a smaller and more agile 126C2. The car would be made lighter and much more maneuverable because of the use of new carbon fiber-reinforced composites in the chassis. The 126C2 would be the ill-fated model in which Villeneuve would lose his life at Zolder. Although the season would be full of difficulty and tragedy, Ferrari would still manage to take the Constructors' Championship.
Just as Ferrari was hitting its stride, it would be tripped up. Regulations constantly change in Formula One, and coming into the 1983 season, the ground effects chassis would be outlawed. This would leave Poslethwaite with the difficult task of clawing-back the lost downforce. Poslethwaite would end up creating a design with a large rear wing. While the wing would work, unreliability of the rest of the car would really hurt the team's efforts.
The team knew the car design was good. It would just need to be tweaked and made more reliable and it had the potential of becoming a race winner. The tweaking didn't necessarily need to happen in the chassis. It was light and handled well. The problem the team had dealt with out-right speed. The engine would be revised, including the cylinder heads being redesigned. However, coming into the Belgian Grand Prix, the biggest change the team would make would have to do with the injection system. The computer controlled system would be abandoned in favor of a more conventional design. The result would be a pole position and a victory, both firsts, for Michele Alboreto.
The very chassis, 12-074, in which Alboreto would score his first pole and victory would be made available at auction in Monterey, California. Hosted by RM Auctions, chassis 126-074 would again be on the point commanding what many believed would amount to $400,000 to $480,000.
After its victory, the car would make just five more starts before it would be stored at the Ferrari Factory. In time, the chassis would become part of the famous Matsuda Collection in Japan. During the late 1990s, the car would be resold and would become the property of Peter Irlenborn. A little later, the car would go through an extensive restoration by Bob Houghton and MHT in England.
A race winner and the chariot of Michele Alboreto and Rene Arnoux, chassis 126-074 is certainly a good example of Ferrari's turbo-era chassis and one of only six that would be built during the 1984 season. It would also hold a special place in the career of Michele Alboreto. Whether to be used in demonstration runs, or to be on display in a prominent collection, this Ferrari 126 C4 sits ready once again.
'Featured Lots: Lot No. 214: 1984 Ferrari 126 C4 Formula One Racing Car', (http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r108&fc=0). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r108&fc=0. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Ferrari 126 C', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 March 2011, 21:23 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ferrari_126_C&oldid=418356976 accessed 19 August 2011By Jeremy McMullen