Our story begins in 1984 at a time when Ferrari North America had their headquarters on Katella Avenue in Los Alamitos, a suburb in Orange County. At that time California Highway Patrol officer Bruce West owned a 308 GTS and, in a time when FNA was more client-friendly, Officer West would often drop by FNA’s warehouse to visit. The logistics and quality control of new cars coming through the FNA building was done by FNA employee Bob Nolan and FNA had just gotten in a 1983 126 C2B F1 car which was to be on display at the 1984 LA Auto Show. The 126 C2B had just been flown in from Germany and was apparently the car that was driven by Rene Arnoux in the 1983 season. Officer West had a CHP trainee with him, the trainee had a camera and so the above photo was staged. Officer West is seen writing the imaginary ticket, Bob Nolan is staged in the F1 car and the CHP trainee took the photo.
As a Ferrari owner, Officer West went to all the local Ferrari Owner’s Club shows and so had 2,000 photos of the 126 C2B being ticketed printed in a 24″ x 16″ small poster size and sold them for $10 each at the FOC shows. The funds were given to the CHP widows and orphans fund. Any serious Southern California Ferrari enthusiast bought a copy or copies of the poster. We’ve had one of Officer West’s posters on display in our building for decades.
The 1984 season
For those who are into the minutiae of Ferrari F1 trainspotting, the 126 C2B series were built from s/n 62 to s/n 65 and if the car in the above photo was indeed the René Arnoux car it was s/n 64 which carried race # 28. As the first of the flat-bottomed F1 cars the 126 C2 developed 650 hp for qualifying and 600 hp in race trim from 1,496 cc. René Arnoux almost took the 1983 Drivers’ title, staying in contention until the last race, at Kyalami, when a DNF ended his battle with Nelson Piquet for the championship. Ferrari did win the 1983 Constructors’ title and 126 C2B s/n 64 contributed thanks to three podium finishes with a 3rd at Long Beach, another 3rd at San Marino and a 1st at Montreal. Today 126 C2B s/n 64 lives a happy life in Germany.
Only a few months ago we sold the 1988 Italian Grand Prix winning F/88 s/n 102 which had been driven by Gerhard Berger to Ferrari’s only victory and only 1st and 2nd finish in the 1988 season. Dedicated long-term F1 spotters will know that the 1988 season was dominated by the battle between McLaren drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost driving identical and totally dominating McLaren-Honda MP4/4s with Senna just squeaking victory over Prost. While Prost scored eleven more points than Senna, at that time only the eleven highest finishes counted for the Championship, with Senna’s eight 1st place finishes and three 2nd place finishes Senna scored 90 points to Prost’s 87 points, giving Senna the 1988 Championship.
The 1988 season, McLaren dominance
1988 was the last year of the Turbo F1 cars, soon to be obsolete when the new 3.5 litre normally aspirated engine rules came into force for 1989. Ferrari built only three new chassis, s/n 102, 103 and 104, all a minimal update of the F/87 which had carried 195 liters of fuel and used 4.0 Bar boost giving 950 hp and 880 hp for the race. The F/88 featured new front and rear wings and a slightly lower engine cover due to the fuel tank reduction from 195 liters to 150 liters. Although one of the most powerful cars of the 1988 field at around 650 bhp, the F1/87/88C’s biggest problem was fuel consumption compared to the all-new engines built by Honda for McLaren. Having been defeated by Ferrari at the 1987 Japanese GP, the last race of the 1987 F1 season, Honda’s engineers built a completely new V6 engine to cope with both the reduced fuel limit of 150 liters and the lower turbo limit of 2.5 bar, while Ferrari merely updated 1987’s Tipo 033 V6 engine and so Ferrari was forced to run a low boost with reduced power in the races.
McLaren built six all-new MP4/4s with s/n 1 to 6 and replaced the 1987 Porsche built TAG V6 with Honda’s RA168-E engine. Honda’s engine management team worked long hours on fuel management in response to the FIA’s turbo boost reduction to 2.5 bar. The McLaren team Honda-powered MP4/4 drivers were so totally dominant that they were expected to win all sixteen races in the 1988 season. True to form the McLarens qualified 1st with Senna on the pole in MP4/4-4 and Prost 2nd in MP4/4-1 at the Italian GP with Berger 3rd in s/n 102 and Michele Alboreto 4th in s/n 104. Prost’s engine started to misfire on the first lap and so he turned up the boost and went for broke. On lap 35 of 51 laps Prost’s championship hopes seemed to evaporate when his Honda engine blew up, moving the Ferrari pilots into 2nd and 3rd. In response to Prost’s charge, Senna had turned up his boost but was running low on fuel. Senna was forced to slow to save fuel giving the Ferraris the chance to go from 26 seconds adrift to only 5. With the Ferraris closing in Senna passed Williams driver Jean-Louis Schlesser in the Rettifilo chicane with unhappy results for both drivers. The Williams driver t-boned the McLaren destroying its right rear suspension knocking Senna out of the race. Berger finished 1st in F/88 s/n 102 with Alboreto only a half second behind in F/88 s/n 103 to finished 2nd, a fabulous and unexpected victory for both the Scuderia and the Tifosi at the first Italian GP since the death of Enzo Ferrari less than a month earlier.
For the devoted trainspotters, all six MP4/4 chassis still exist, s/n 1, 3, 4, & 6 are owned by the McLaren Group, s/n 2 is in a private collection and s/n 5 is owned by Honda. F/88 s/n 102 is now in Europe, s/n 103 is on display at the Factory Museum and s/n 104 is now in England.
When F/88 s/n 102 arrived at Ferraris Online in preparation for being shipped to its new owner in Europe, we decided it was our opportunity to recreate the 1984 photo shoot. While Officer West has long since retired, Officer Paul Fox, the local CHP Community Outreach Programs Officer was more than willing to cooperate and so F/88 s/n 102 was staged with the help of Officer Fox. Officer West was invited and met with Officer Fox to relive the moment. The photos were posted to the CHP social media accounts and the posters of both F126 C2B s/n 64 and F/88 s/n 102 are now displayed on the walls of our offices.
Racing automotive emotions
Any enthusiast would agree that any Formula One car represents the pinnacle of automotive innovation, design, construction and performance, running at the highest levels of professional racing, driven by the planet’s best drivers and sponsored by the leading manufacturers. In today’s world of Ferrari supercar collections, all stocked with the ubiquitous 288; F40; F50, Enzo and La Ferrari, a Ferrari F1 car priced at $1.5m to $7m adds a massive amount of eye candy at a very affordable price. When compared with today’s astronomical numbers for a 250 SWB, Testarossa or GTO, any Ferrari F1 car is both a bargain to buy and guaranteed to be featured display candy at ANY event.
F/88 s/n 102 is the fourth Ferrari F1 car we’ve sold this year and for those who want to run with F1 Clienti the Turbo cars are by far the most affordable Ferrari F1 cars today. Even with the wick turned down, at which point engine life is good for years of track events, a Ferrari F1 Turbo car delivers a thump in the back that makes any supercar seem pedestrian. The rule of F1 ownership is simple, the earlier the car, the greater the engine life and the less complicated and computer-necessitated to run. Personally, s/n 102 brought me back to the 126 C2B poster and drove me to reproduce the poster and the feelings it involved. To the Tifosi, the very sight of F/88 s/n 102 will drive them to remember that memorable day in September 1988 when the sorrow at the passing of Enzo Ferrari was replaced with the euphoria of an improbable victory at Monza. While every car is merely a cold collection of metals, plastics and rubber no car inspires the passion of a Ferrari F1 car.
My thanks to Aaron Jenkins of Forza; Alastair Henderson; Allen Brown, (an F1 guru); Andy Dayes; Anthony Moody; Arnaud Blanfuney (an F1 guru); Bill Orth; Bjorn Martenson; Bruce Trenery of Fantasy Junction; Giuseppe Tomasetti; Mike Matune; Nigel Petas, Ross Bowdler and a special thanks to Cody McHardy (@impeccable_aim) for photographing the moment for us.