One of Tyrrell’s Iconic P34 Six-Wheeled F1 Cars Is Going to Auction

You can be the coolest entrant at any historic race meet, so long as your pockets are deep enough.

There are a surprising number of ways you can legally drive a six-wheeled vehicle. Mercedes-AMG’s G63 6×6, Hennessey’s Velociraptor 6×6, and technically many dually pickups will give you two more wheels than everyone else on the road. But what about at the track? Well, if you have deep enough pockets, you can also increase your wheel count by half with this legendary 1977 Tyrrell P34 Formula 1 car headed to an RM Sotheby’s auction in Monaco on May 10 and 11, ahead of the city’s annual Historic Grand Prix.

Admittedly, this specific P34 wasn’t actually built in the ’70s, nor was it ever used in an F1 race. Instead, it was built in the 2000s, from chassis #8, an unused P34 chassis from 1977. However, it has a period-correct Ford-Cosworth DFV engine and a Hewland manual gearbox, like every other P34 and most F1 cars of the era. It’s also won at the Monterey Historics race meeting and is eligible for other similar events, so it is still an authentic piece of F1 history, even if it never contested a Grand Prix. It’s currently a part of driver Jody Scheckter’s collection.

The Tyrrell P34 is one of the most iconic F1 cars ever, not for its performance but for its unusual design. Derek Gardner, one of Tyrrell’s designers at the time, came up with the six-wheeled concept in an effort to reduce front-end lift. The P34’s four tiny tires remained within the width of the bodywork, but still offered the same size contact patch for grip. It technically worked and, according to Gardner, it gave the car the equivalent of 40 extra horsepower.

However, it wasn’t as effective in practice as in theory. In perfect conditions, the six-wheeled design was great for grip and aerodynamics but made braking a nightmare, since the braking balance between two front axles and one rear was incredibly difficult to calibrate. It would also lose braking grip through corners according to Scheckter, who earned the P34 its only win at the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix. Tyrrell drivers of the era had a love/hate relationship with the P34 and, in the end, the team had to stop the experiment after the 1977 season due to tire supply issues.

Judging the Tyrrell P34 based on its racing prowess is missing the point, though. It was never a dominant car, nor was it ever highly successful. Instead, it’s a realization of the ingenuity of 1970s Formula 1 and one of the most unique race cars of all time. Whoever can afford to be the winning bidder on this P34 will have one of the coolest cars at every historic race meet.

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