Thursday, January 13, 2011

Derek Gardner; designer and innovator

Excuse my tardiness. 

Derek Gardner, the man best known for designing the innovative 6-wheeled Tyrell P34 Formula One car passed away January 7, 2011 at the age of 79 in Lutterworth, England.

From his beginnings as a transmission specialist, Gardner proved to be quite the innovator in the field; developing such radical ideas as 4-wheel drive Formula One cars like the Ferguson P99 in 1961. Eventually, Gardner was recruited by Ken Tyrell. From there, his first car he developed was the Tyrell 001 which he built in his home garage. The 001 debuted in the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix grabbing pole position with the great Jackie Steward behind the wheel. Eventually, Gardner's Tyrell 003 and 006 powered Jackie Stewart's world championships in 1971 and 1973. 

In 1975, Gardner developed his most daring idea yet; the Tyrell P34.  Noticing a loophole in the regulations, Gardner took advantage and designed a car with 6 wheels, 2 drive wheels and 4 steering wheels in the front. The front wheels were smaller to reduce frontal area while increasing the contact patch thereby increasing mechanical grip.  The car took the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix by storm with Jody Scheckter taking the wheel.

In 1977, Gardner left Formula One, taking a position as director of Borg-Warner's R&D division.

Now as a tribute, soak in the madness of 6 wheeled performance.

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Tedrick said...

Maybe it's because I knew the P34 first, but the first car in the first picture kind of looks like the P34, shortened and with one of the front axles hacked off.

Ryan said...

Eh, I thought of the same thing when I first saw them. Tedrick, you should help write for this.. there's really too much going on for me to keep up with all this myself.

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