In 1976, the Tyrrell team again went into secret mode and came up with the Project34. another Derek Gardener design and arguably one of the two most radical entries ever to succeed in F1 ( the other being the Brabham BT46B "Fancar") The history of the concept has been traced back to Gardeners work on the Four wheel drive turbine cars of the late 1960s. What is more the idea has now been proved to have real merit.

      With most F1 teams running the same Ford Cosworth DFV engine performance gains had to be found in other places. For Gardiner it was to improve handling, stability and straight line speed. His research led him to design a car with four small front wheels tucked inside the body.

      It has long been stated that the reason for the smaller front wheels was to reduce frontal area, but this is a secondary issue, after all the rear tyres were standard size and still stuck out in the airflow. The real reason is that the smaller front wheels helped reduce front end lift and thus improve stability. The four small tyres actually increased the contact patch with the road meaning better mechanical grip for braking and turning.

      Thus the P34 was given four 10-inch front wheels. This required a complex suspension design so all the front wheels could be steered. The design had an unforeseen safety advantage too, when a car came into the pits with the driver complaining of understeer it was found to have a puncture! This hadn’t stopped him lapping at racing speeds either.  One problem of having smaller front wheels was an increased tyre wear rate. For every turn of the rear tyre, the front must travel 1.6 times as far. Meaning that if the rear wheel is travelling at 200mph, the front tyres are travelling at a comparative 320mph. This caused tyre distortion at high speeds.

      The P34’s achieved a 1-2 finish at the Swedish GP in 1976 and they did have some other good results, but became less and less competitive due to lack of tyre development. While other teams on the standard tyres benefitted from tyre development Tyrell, being the only people running 10inch wheels, fell behind. Worse was the fact that the rear tyres were  being developed and as they became quicker the car became more unbalanced.

      Proof of this is found in the Thoroughbred Grand Prix series were Avon spent a considerable amount of time and money to provide tyres for Simon Bulls car driven by Martin Stretton. They won the 2000 TGP and this feat was repeated by Mauro Pane driving a sister P34 in 2008.

                                                                      1/20th scale kit.

                                                                           Built by Ian.

     This is one of Ian's earliest car models, built out of the box in1991. Luckily Tamiya kits are straight forward to build and well detailed giving encouragement to the novice builder. All these years later it is clear that much more can be done with this kit and amomgst the "to do" list are at least three more versions of this car from various kit manufacturers charting the progres of this design.

     One of the worst aspects of the kit now are the decals which haven't gone down well and are rather opaque. This is mostly due to Ian not getting all the air out from under neath the decal. Now we have decal setting and softening solutions, (and understand that decals go down much better over gloss paint then the plain plastic) this problem occures much less.

 

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