The introduction of the 126 CK in 1981 hailed the official start of the Ferrari twin turbo era. In Maranello, the Scuderia dragged its feet about taking the new engine to the tracks, both to make the most of the naturally aspirated engine and because it wanted to try out another type of compressor, the Comprex, which was used in the 126 CX. Although theoretically very interesting, the new device turned out to be difficult to perfect for racing engine purposes. It was abandoned and the only turbocharged single-seater that remained was the 126 C.

The 120° V6 engine was totally different from the normally aspirated 12-cylinder as it was both shorter and narrower. However, it also required that a whole new car be designed that would retain the big side pods that now contained heat exchangers for the compressed air for the engine. The front suspension was traditional with the upper rocker arm working the internal spring, while the rear suspension had wishbones with adjustable arms.

With Scheckter gone, Gilles Villeneuve was joined by a young French driver, Didier Pironi. The Canadian won at both Monte Carlo and Jarama, confirming his huge talent on the track. However, reliability was still a problem and this prevented Ferrari and its drivers from getting into a really tight battle for the world title which was won, in the very last race, by Brazilian Nelson Piquet.

Type rear, longitudinal 120° V6
Bore/stroke 81 x 48.4 mm
Unitary displacement 249.40 cc
Total displacement 1496.43 cc
Compression ratio 6.5 : 1
Maximum power 397 kW (540 hp) at 11,000 rpm
Power per litre 361 hp/l
Maximum torque -
Valve actuation twin overhead camshafts per bank, four valves per cylinder
Fuel feed twin turbos, Lucas-Ferrari electronic indirect injection
Ignition electronic, single spark plug per cylinder
Lubrication dry sump
Clutch multi-plate
Frame monocoque, light alloy structure with aluminium panels
Front suspension independent, twin wishbones, inboard springs over telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension independent, twin wishbones, inboard springs over telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Brakes discs
Transmission 5/6-speed + reverse
Steering rack-and-pinion
Fuel tank capacity 210 litres
Front tyres 22/59 x 13”
Rear tyres 38/66 x 13”