Easily one of the most unusual and distinctive Formula 1 cars ever made, Tyrrell’s P34 raced in 1976 and 1977 seasons. Despite initial suspicions that its six-wheel layout was merely a marketing gimmick, the car quickly proved very fast and surprisingly competitive under the right conditions.
Designed to allow its front wheels to hide entirely behind the front wing and thus reduce drag while also optimizing air flow over the rear for maximum downforce, the T34 featured four 10-inch front wheels that turned in unison. A conventional two-wheel front end would have exhibited drastically reduced grip due to correspondingly small contact patches, leading chief project engineer Derek Gardner to simply double them up.
The P34’s career highlight came in 1976, when Jody Sheckter and Patrick Depailler drove a pair of chassis to a one-two finish at that year’s Swedish Grand Prix. Ultimately, problems with variable grip as the tiny front wheels were jostled on bumpy circuits like Brands Hatch and the Nurburgring–along with 1978 rules changes which effectively negated its aerodynamic advantages–quickly led to abandonment of the concept.
In this period video, three-time World Champion and BaT hero Sir Jackie Stewart demonstrates a fast lap of the P34 at Circuit Paul Ricard. Watch as he casually narrates while grabbing lightning dabs of oppo, the camera simultaneously capturing his hands and the quad front wheels turning in harmony as the Cosworth DFV’s scream rises and falls in pitch.