Part 7 – A Second Chance for the P34
Written by Jay Walker. Posted in P34 History
With such a short active life in F1 and all the problems encountered, its easy to think that Project 34 was a failure, however this story does have a happy ending. During the mid 1990’s Derek Gardner teamed up with historic F1 car owner Simon Bull (presenter of the BBC’s antiques road show) in order to restore and enter a Tyrrell 005 (Jackie Stewarts car during 1972 & 1973) in the inaugural FIA TGP Cup, the car was driven by Martin Stretton and won its class.
Spurred on by this success Simon decided to resurrect one more late 70’s Tyrrell F1 car, and asked Derek which car would be his choice, always game for a challenge and wanting to finish some unfinished business, Derek naturally chose the P34.
After some research trying to locate a car in good enough condition, P34 chassis No 6 was purchased from a German car collector and delivered to the UK in late December 1997, this car had been a T-car for Ronnie Peterson and Patrick Depailler during the 1977 season.
Of coarse the main problem with resurrecting the car was the front tyres, but when Derek and Simon approached Avon, who make the tyres run by all the TGP cars, it was found that not only did they have access to the original tyre moulds but also two of the Avon engineers had worked on the Goodyear 10″ tyre project back in the late seventies. Avon agreed to have a go and Project 34 was back in business.
Derek worked very closely with the car and found modern day solutions to the braking problems, slowly, the car was restored over the following year and was ready for its first track shakedown at Donington Park in March 1999, the car suffered a few teething problems but nothing serious and after a few more outings was ready to contest the 1999 TGP Cup.
The car proved to be extremely competitive out-of-the box, always qualifying on the first and second rows and when it finished, it was in the points, when the car was run at Monza, Derek gave the team the same settings he had given the Tyrrell team back in 1977 just before his departure from the team, the car ran perfectly proving once and for all that his concept was not flawed, and that given good rubber the car could have been a true F1 legend.
Martin Stretton and the resurrected P34 had a great year in 1999 and in 2000 the team won the TGP cup outright, the car has since run at the Goodwood festival of Speed were it has put in a some very quick times and makes regular appearances at many historic events, attracting crowds and the press wherever it goes ensuring that this great piece of racing history lives on.