1978 Tyrrell 008 F1

   After two seasons battling with the 6 wheel P34 chassis, Goodyear having declined to maintain development of the 10 inch front tyres, Tyrrell were obliged to return to the conventional design school for 1978.

   Maurice Philippe penned a car that while more conventional than the P34 still had an appearance that set it apart from most of the other cars on the 1978 F1 grid.

   The shallow aluminium monocoque carried inboard coil springs and dampers for the double wishbone front suspension along with rack-and-pinion steering. A 485bhp 3ltr short stroke Cosworth DFV 90º V8 NA 4 valves/cyl' DOHC engine featuring an aluminium block and head was mounted longitudinally mounted behind the driver and carried the rear suspension pick up points and inboard rear disc brakes; all the brakes were ventilated discs with 4 pot aluminium callipers. The rear suspension had double lower links with a top trailing link and antiroll bar also linking with the magnesium uprights. Coil over shock suspension affixed in a conventional manner between the bottom of the hub uprights and a carrier frame fixed to the top of the gearbox. The gearbox was a Hewland FGA 400 5-speed or FGA 400 6 speed manual unit with integral Hewland Transaxle and limited slip differential. Engine cooling was through side mounted water radiators with lubrication via a 9ltr oil tank and rear cooling radiators. So far everything has been conventional, while the press had hypothesized Tyrrell would have a turbo-charged engine or even eight wheels they were disappointed by the 008, but had they known they would have investigated the electrical system. Just over two decades later electrical systems were the cutting edge of Formula 1 but in 1978 hardly anyone investigated the onboard electronic measuring instrumentation designed by Dr. Karl Kempf, he had pursued development of data collection and Tyrrell saw the possibilities and advantages of knowing what was going on with their car; clearly a predecessor of today's incredibly sophisticated telemetry systems.

   As it happened this system was needed because the 008 was a difficult car to drive switching from oversteer and understeer, and back again, inconsistently. Kempf’s previous system for the P34 attached to the car for testing but the 008 had actual onboard performance data collection, the first time in F1.

   The conventional chassis, and unconventional electrics, were enveloped in fibre glass bodywork adorned with 'First National City Bank' and ‘Elf’ sponsorship colours. Both these backers were to leave the Tyrrell family at the end of 1978 leaving Ken Tyrrell to fund the team personally until backing was secured from the Italian appliance manufacturing group ‘Candy’ in the middle of 1979. Interestingly Tyrrell maintained a largely blue colour scheme for much of their future building upon their initial support from the French state-owned petroleum company Elf. Basically, the cars had become identifiable because of the blue hue so the team adopted the colour as “Tyrrell blue”.

   Five cars carried the 008 tag on their chassis, not all survive. 008/2 was written off because of a crash in the Dutch GP. Crash damage caused in Belgium resulted in 008/4 needing a new tub so the rebuilt car was re-designated 008/5. The most raced car was 008/3. An 008 car that had raced in the “Thoroughbred Grand Prix series” was put up for sale a few years ago at an asking price of £110,000; and it sold.

   For 1979 Tyrrell campaigned the 009 which was their first ground effects car; and arguably was the most efficient copy of the ground-breaking Lotus 79.

   The driving staff for 1978 saw Patrick Depailler joined by Didier Pironi. Ken Tyrrell was a panellist on the 'Pilote Elf' jury in 1972 when Pironi was awarded that trophy and had followed the young Frenchman’s career seeing him win the Monaco F3 Grand Prix and come 3rd in the F2 championship. Always a prodigious talent spotter Ken Tyrrell saw Pironi was ready for F1 and gave him his chance before anyone else stepped in.

Patrick Depailler  

   Depailler got the Tyrrell 008 off to a promising start at the Argentine GP qualifying 10th and working his way through the field to finish on the podium in 3rd place. Although he retired from the Brazilian GP Depailler lead the South Africa GP at Kyalami being pushed back to a 2nd place finish when his engine lost performance. At the next race Depailler started a run of podiums finishing 3rd at Long Beach in the United States West GP.

   Depailler reached his peak at the Monaco GP where he qualified 5th and he capitalised on that position, and the misfortunes of others, to push through to take his first career F1 win. The winning chassis being 008/3.

   As the rest of the season unfolded reliability spoilt Depailler’s chances at a number of races but he was able to take another second place, this time at the Austrian GP, and two more point scoring positions to finish the season with 34 points. That equated to 5th place in the driver’s championship

Didier Pironi   

   Pironi’s season wasn’t so glittering but perhaps that is understandable for a new F1 driver. He qualified 23rd to Depailler’s 10th in Argentina but he did finish the race, albeit a lowly 14th place. In Brazil he bagged his first Championship point with a 6th place finish. He then repeated that result in South Africa and took 5th at Monaco and in Germany. Pironi also scored a point in Belgium and won the qualifying battle against his team mate at the Italian GP.

   Didier Pironi finished 15th in the driver’s championship with 7 points, something less tangible was the experience gained; Ken Tyrrell once again proved he was the best driver scout (before Eddie Jordan that is) as Pironi went on to drive for Ferrari and was a le Mans 24hr winner.

Elf Team Tyrrell

   4th in the constructor’s championship was the teams reward for their efforts. Their 38 points total might seem like a mistake as 34 and 7 add up to more than 38. The disparity is due to the points scoring rules which meant that only the best placed cars points counted towards the Constructor’s Championship total.

   Obviously, the best points score was Depailler’s win in Monaco and our model is a representation of that car.

1/28th scale kit.
Built by Ian.

   The model is from the 2nd issue released later in the 1980s.   Originally put on sale in 1980 by Nitto, in collaboration with Scale Craft of California, this motorised kit was arguably a little late to really have any chance of massive worldwide success. Most model enthusiasts had moved past the “motorised” era and were looking to Tamiya’s excellence in detail and buildability in their static display models. Yes, Tamiya did do motorised model cars, even into the eighties, but few people fitted the motors by then. Tamiya’s models were just too fine to risk smashing on a skirting board!

   Nitto were most prolific in the mid-1980s, 1983 and 1984 in particular. They focused on military and aircraft subjects but their car range was interesting. When they went bankrupt in 1988 Fujimi bought many of the Nitto moulds so the military kits have turned up from time to time in Fujimi boxes. We believe Hasegawa might have picked up some too.

   Scale craft of California were only available from 1978 to 1995 and are largely Nitto products with a Scale Craft logo on the box. Our research has so far failed to find a kit number for the original release but we do know that the second release under the Blue Tank label was TK-8825.

   1/28th is an odd scale for model cars, well display models of any genre really. Car kits were historically 1/32nd then later 1/24th or 1/25th with Formula 1 kits eventually splitting off to be 1/20th. We don’t know why 1/28th scale was used but we do know that there have been several model companies in the far East who have produced motorised cars for “line control racing” in this scale, including Otaki.

   The kit is rather chunky especially in the chassis and suspension. The engine facsimile is vague in both the dimensions and the details. The body shape is around 80% and the half cockpit lacks detail. So, it is a product of it’s time and aimed at a particular niche market; which was not the highly detailed static model market. However, it is very rare and demonstrates one of the phases scale model car kits went through as well as a different reason for model making. There are very few Tyrrell 008 kits available and this one fell in Ian’s lap in the early 1990s. It is straight forward to build and looks reasonable upon completion, although it did have a lot of sink holes and ejector pin marks. The plastic was incredibly soft too.

   The wheels are a very reasonable effort at the real wheels the car ran on, no generic wheels here. The tyres are another story. A moderate level of slick tread pattering is lost as the tyres sink horribly in the centre once they are on the wheels. Ian put two lengths of plastic strip around each wheel, one on top of the other and still didn’t totally eradicate the problem so repeated sanding eventually removed all trace of the tread as well as most of the deformation.

   The kit is built more or less straight from the box. The exhaust pipes were drilled out, a scratch built visor was made for the helmet and “mirror glass” was punched out and added to the rear view mirrors. Other details were replicated by painting techniques; the side radiators were painted overall black, then the grills masked on the front and a corresponding size mask put on the rear too. These were then primed with white primer and painted Tyrrell Blue. Once the masks are removed the rear of the radiator has a slightly sunken radiator in a blue frame; just like the front.

   The Disappointing area is the cockpit. The half driver is difficult to paint effectively and there is very little detail. Ian could have gone to great lengths to improve this area but then it would have been out of keeping with the rest of the model; and led to many months of work to detail up the rest of the car. To preserve the model as “of it’s era” Ian chose not to go down this route.

   Decals are pretty good for the time again eluding to the simple nature of the kit they are clearly designed to be applied to the blue plastic and negate the need for painting. Although worrying about the decals having turned cream with age Ian choose to cut the large side decals down to the individual logos and let the white of the paint show rather than the white of the decal. This worked well as the decals had not yellowed at all and took down really well on the white paint. Things didn’t go so well of the blue paint, there the decals seemed to lack adhesion and despite Microset and Daco trapped air under them.

   Tyre decals were not included and there were none of suitable dimensions that would fit the tyres. There is only one driver option in this kit but no helmet decals at all, making 1/20th scale decals fit on a 1/28th scale helmet was quite a task. The decals had to be carefully cut down to size then applied in layers, each layer being protected by a coat of Johnson’s Klear floor polish to stop them being lifted when applying the net layer.

    Alclad II black and white primers. Were used for all priming, with Zero paints used for the body colours (Zero Tyrrell blue ZP-1067 and Zero pure brilliant white ZP-1026). PlamoUK gloss coat was sued over the body colour and polished back with ‘T’cut. Molotow Chrome marker pens were used in some areas and Mr. Metal Color “Dark Iron” took care of the exhaust colours. For all other detail painting acrylic paints from Deco-Art and Citadel ranges did the job. The only enamel colour used was Humbrols Matt Black which, according to Ian, remains the best matt black effect on the market (others may disagree).