Tyrrell-Ford P34 – photo: Roman Klemm

Tyrrell-Ford P34

We will see these F1 gems at the GP Revival 2024 in Brno: Tyrrell-Ford P34

Text and photo: Roman Klemm

It is certainly not an exaggeration to label the "six-wheeler-Project34" as one of the biggest sensations in the history of Formula 1. When Ken Tyrrell unveiled this unprecedented Derek Gardner design in late 1975, most observers thought it was just a publicity stunt: The car had SIX wheels! But the "woodcutter" wasn't kidding. Quietly developed and built with the support of the Elf oil plant and the Good Year rubber plant, the car was put into action for the first time on May 2, 1976 at Jarama, where Patrick Depailler qualified it for the 3rd starting position. Two weeks later Jody Scheckter drove the P34 for the first time in Zolder for points (4th), at the end of May only Niki Lauda (Ferrari) beat Depailler and Scheckter in Monaco and on the memorable 13th of June 1976 this "joke" Tyrrell-Ford P34 won with Jody Scheckter in Andrerstorp Swedish Grand Prix. The successful construction was - apart from the four rickety wheels in front - basically a pure representative of the well-established "builder" British philosophy "own chassis + Cosworth engine + Hewland gearbox". Seven more times that year were enough to finish in the top three and Team Tyrrell finished 3rd behind Ferrari and McLaren in the constructors' standings. Ken Tyrrell was enthusiastic about Gardner's concept, and he was vindicated by the fact that other teams also began to look into the multi-wheel solution. But the beginning of the rubber war between Good Year and Michelin made him overshoot the budget. The Americans no longer had the capacity to develop special small tires, the P34 was losing competitiveness in 1977 and Tyrrell had to return to the normal concept of four wheels from 1978. The sensationally restored Tyrrell-Ford P34 will be demonstrated in Brno by the American Jonathan Holtzman.

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