What Would the Tyrrell P34 Look Like if it Were Built Today?

What if one of F1’s weirdest cars was built in the modern era?

byJames Gilboy|
Racing photo

The Tyrrell P34 was one of the most radical Formula One car designs to ever make it to the track... and then win a race. The idea behind the car's bizarre quadruple front wheels is to maintain the same contact patch, and thus, grip, as two larger tires would, but without the drag-inducing frontal cross section of two traditional large front tires. In theory, the P34 should have had all the performance of its four wheeled brethren in the corners, but a superior top speed. Throughout the 1976 and 1977 seasons, Tyrrell's drivers, which included Jody Scheckter, Patrick Depaillier, and Ronnie Peterson, had mixed opinions of the car. Scheckter, who won the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix with the P34, called the car a "piece of junk," whereas Depaillier thought highly of the car. The P34B, redesigned in 1977 for cleaner aero, was less pleasing to the Tyrrell drivers, as it was now 190 pounds over the minimum weight requirements, which put extra strain on the brakes and tires, and hampered cornering.

Why the six wheeled project was dropped is not fully known. There were some problems with the unique Goodyear front tires used by the car, as their small radius meant they wore out significantly faster than a larger front tire would, and lack of tire development by Goodyear is cited as one of the reasons the design lost favor with Tyrrell. Six wheeled prototypes were also trialled by March, Ferrari, and Williams, though none ever made it past the testing phase.

Twitter user @kotmaa wanted to know what a modern take on the P34 would look like, so through the power of kitbashing, which is the practice of combining multiple model kits to build a unique model, they created a modern take on the Tyrrell P34 from a kit of a 2009-2013 era Formula One car. If the P34's design had been carried onward, and six wheeled cars had not been banned by the FIA, this kitbash is what a modern version of the car could look like, had Tyrrell not been bought out after 1998.

It is a shame that this car never existed in real life, as it would be a strange yet entrancing sight. At least we can settle for watching footage of the original.