Welcome, welcome, welcome! Today I bring to you the first instalment of a new “regular” series I plan to do on this blog: Rikkardo’s Retro Racing Cars! I will be taking a look at the most successful, most abnormal and the coolest racing cars of the last 110 years or so. We’ll be taking cars from Formula 1, Endurance Racing, Rally, Drifting and many many more I am sure.
I thought we would start with the six wheeled Formula 1 car that Tyrrell campaigned with in 1976 and 1977, the P34.
Engineer Dave Gardner’s thinking behind the P34 was that the four smaller wheels at the front would produce less drag than two regular sized front wheels (as you can see they sit nicely behind the front wing). The second set of wheels also meant that there would be a larger overall contact patch between tyre and track allowing more grip to be produced thus creating a fast car in both a straight line and in corners.
Interestingly, the P34 wasn’t the only Formula 1 car to be built in the period with more than four wheels. Also created during the 1976/77 period were the March 2-4-0, which featured two sets of driven wheels at the rear, and the Ferrari 312t6 which featured 4 wheels on it’s single rear axle which, to be crude, looks rather like the set up used on the back of recovery trucks and other large commercial vehicles. In the early 1980s Williams produced the FW07D and FW08B which also featured two sets of driven wheels at the rear.
The Tyrrell was the only one of these cars to actually see a race though. In 1976 the original P34 faired well scoring a total of 9 podiums at the hands of Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler.
The 1977 car, pictured above by Speedhunters, featured some aerodynamic changes including a cowling which covered the engine and the new prominent vents in the front which helped cool the now enclosed engine. The car didn’t fair as well this year scoring only 4 podium finishes with Ronnie Peterson and Patrick Depailler and many, many, many retirements. After that the project was scrapped and replaced with the Tyrrell 008.
As with a large number of Formula 1 cars produced between 1968 and 1978 the P34 was powered by Cosworth’s DFV V8, an engine that deserves a blog post all to it’s self really.
Well, I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Please let me know what cars you would like to see featured next! Thanks for reading!