Fujimi 1/20 Tyrrell P.34 (Long Beach 1977)

KIT #: 090962 (GP 39)
PRICE: 5000 yen SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The Tyrrell P34 (Project 34), otherwise known as the "six-wheeler", was a Formula One race car designed by Derek Gardner, Tyrrell's chief designer.

The car used four specially manufactured 10-inch-diameter (250 mm) wheels and tyres at the front, with two ordinary-sized wheels at the back. Contrary to popular belief, the idea of the smaller front tyres was not to have a smaller "frontal area" to reduce drag, as the frontal area was still determined by the width of the standard-sized rear slicks. In fact, the six-wheel design reduced the lift caused by two larger front wheels, improving frontal downforce, increased the total contact patch of the front tyres and created a greater swept area for the brake discs.

When unveiled, the cover was peeled away from the back forward and the collective gasps from the world's press said it all. Along with the Brabham BT46B "Fancar" developed in 1978, the six-wheeled Tyrrell was one of the two most radical entries ever to succeed in Formula One (F1) competition, and has specifically been called the most recognizable design in the history of world motorsports.

It first ran in the Spanish GP in 1976, and proved to be very competitive. Both Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler were able to produce solid results with the car, but while Depailler praised the car continually, Scheckter realised it would only be temporarily competitive. The special Goodyear tyres were not being developed enough by the end of the season.

The P34's golden moment came in the Swedish Grand Prix. Scheckter and Depailler finished first and second, and to date Scheckter is the only driver ever to win a race in a six-wheeled car. He left the team at the end of the season, insisting that the six-wheeler was "a piece of junk!"

For 1977, Scheckter was replaced by the Swede Ronnie Peterson, and the P34 was redesigned around cleaner aerodynamics. The P34B was wider and heavier than before, and, although Peterson was able to string some promising results from the P34B, as was Depailler, it was clear the car was not as good as before, mostly due to the tyre manufacturer's failure to properly develop the small front tyres. The added weight of the front suspension system is also cited as a reason for ending the project. Thus, the P34 was abandoned for 1978, and a truly remarkable chapter in F1 history was over.


I was fortunate enough to see the P.34B run at Long Beach in 1977, and was duly impressed with the look of the car, though its finish was rather dismal with both cars three laps down in 14th and 16th. When I saw this kit in the Dragon USA coming attractions, I knew I had to have a kit of it.

This is the #3 car driven by Ronnie Peterson, whose death at the last race of the year at Monza as Mario Andretti's team mate with Lotus the following year ensured that Andretti would be the world champion.

The kit is superbly molded in white and black plastic, with the bodywork bits being most of the white plastic. This helps painting later on. F1 cars are by design, not curbsides and this one is no exception with a superbly molded Cosworth V-8 engine to which the transmission and the nicely molded exhaust are fit. Suspension is nicely detailed, but not so fiddly as to be difficult to build. Thenks to the flat lower body, there is plenty of places to put the various suspension bits and the driver's tub. The four wheeled front suspension will take a bit more work than on other F.1 cars simply by the fact that there are twice as many parts.

The interior is Spartan, as is the norm with F.1 cars. A simple tub with pedals at the end of it and a nicely detailed steering system wit the minimalist gauges of the time complete it. It would have been nice to have a harness, even if it was only a decal. Once most of the tub is finished, then one attaches the engine and suspension trailing arms before attaching the tires. There are a pair of large radiators to attach before getting to the bodywork. This consists of several separate panels and a nicely done wing for the rear. Tubing is provided for the brake cooling ducts in the front. Some paper masks are also provided to help when it comes time to masking the upper bodywork. The tires are very nicely molded with well done tread pattern.

Instructions are nicely drawn and provide the usual Gunze paint references. The decals are very well done and there is a separate sheet for tire logos. These decals are printed 'backwards'. One cuts out the logo, gets the decal wet, places it on the tire and then removes the backing paper from the top of the decal. I have used these on other cars and they work very well.


If you like to build F.1 cars, then this is one you really have to add to your collection.



May 2013

My thanks to www.dragonmodelusa.com for the review kit. Get yours today at your local retailer or ask them to order it in for you.

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