"uncle" Ken Tyrrell rings you up and says : "Can you come over, I've got
something to show you", you don't ask: "What?" or "Why?". One
thing about Ken, and I have known him for 40 years, is he never called a spade shovel; you
know exactly where you stand with him, right or wrong. So one morning in September 1975,
having just got back from Monza, I got on my motorcycle and rode over to Ken's house in
West Clandon, and after a welcoming cup of coffee he said: "Come out into the
garden". Totally unprepared for what to expect, I followed him out to the lawn and my
mouth fell open, and a look of total disbelief came upon my face. Ken roared with laughter
as I stood there speechless, and to this day he still has a chuckle at the memory of
describing the first time he laid eyes on the Tyrrell P34.
This famous car was the handiwork of Tyrrell's chief designer
Derek Gardner. It's most striking feature of course was the use of four 10 in. wheels
instead of the regular two. The front-end layout was intended to "... minimize
induced drag by reducing lift at the front and to turn that gain into the ability to enter
and leave corners faster". The use of four small disc brakes required a special
triple master-cylinder system, each feeding the brakes on one of the three axles. This was
necessary as adjustments were required to control locking at the four front wheels.
two front wheels locked first, then the effective wheelbase of the car was shortened and
if the second set of front wheels locked first this resulted in the effective wheelbase
being lengthened. The size of the front tires put special stress on the cross-ply tires
Goodyear supplied. Had radial-ply Michelin tires been available to the team the story
might have been different.
Unfortunatly Goodyear's tire development program did not
have the capacity to properly support the special 10 in. tires used by the P34. The high point for what was known as
Project 34 came at the Swedish Grand Prix in 1976 where Jody Scheckter came in first
followed by his teammate Depailler in second. After two seasons and the departure of Derek
Gardner the experiment was abandoned.