For a single decade of F1 racing, the 1970s certainly had some of the most varied engineering we’ve seen on the grid. F1 at the time consisted of big dreams, big budgets and various unique car and aerodynamic designs. One of the wildest of these was the Tyrrell P34 6-wheeler. It also happens to be one of the most iconic and, in my opinion, coolest F1 car designs of all time. Though it may have only won a handful of races in its day, the Tyrrell P34 will forever be a favorite among F1 enthusiasts and took its place as the only 6-wheel car to compete and podium in F1 history.
To honor this iconic F1 car, Tamiya has faithfully captured the Tyrrell P34’s design many times over the years, releasing it in various liveries and variations. What makes this version special is that it includes a detailed hard plastic body and driver figure, which is something that Tamiya hasn’t released for close to 20 years. This latest iteration features an updated F103-Six chassis, and the beloved full-cowl hard-plastic body styled in the trim and livery of the P34 that competed in the 1977 Argentine GP. Join us as we take a closer look at this iconic 1/10-scale replica.
The P34 includes some extremely well-illustrated instructions alongside neatly sealed and labeled parts bags, making the build process simple and easy to follow. These clear and concise instructions, along with Tamiya’s great technical illustrations, make building a Tamiya RC kit a really enjoyable process.
Getting into the design, let’s start with the foundation. The F103 chassis main plate and rear pod are made from high-quality FRP material, giving the car strength and rigidity. The rear pod mounts to the main chassis plate with a floating assembly that sits atop O-rings, allowing both the pod and chassis to flex side-to-side. At the top of the chassis sits the single coil shock assembly, along with an adjustable friction plate that can be fine-tuned to adjust damping characteristics.
The rear gearbox is made up of four panels that fasten together, making a strong cradle for the RS-540 Sport Tuned motor and steel rear axle assembly. The steel rear axle is finely machined and slides smoothly into place inside the included metal ball bearings. Precision-machined aluminum wheel mounts slip onto the steel axle and securely fasten to each end. The P34 includes an adjustable ball differential that can be tuned by tightening or loosening the right-rear wheel nut. This on-the-fly adjustment is perfect for tuning your diff for different levels of surface grip.
Moving toward the center of the car, the battery tray side supports are made from hard ABS plastic and include two removable FRP side stays that can be flipped in different directions depending on your battery size. Like the main chassis plate, the top center brace is also made from FRP material.
At the front of the vehicle, we have the real attraction of the P34: the 4-wheel steering assembly. This unique P34 steering assembly consists of four smaller-sized wheels mounted to individual steering knuckles. A lower FRP main plate cradles the steering knuckles and two FRP upper plates capture them in place on either side. The steering knuckles sit atop small springs that are held in place the by the knuckle kingpins.
Each pair of steering knuckles is tied together with tie rods and ball end links. Electronics are mounted the old-fashioned way with servo tape (supplied in the kit), and this works perfectly well so long as you pay mind to centering the servo properly. The main chassis plate provides plenty of room to house a full-size steering servo, a standard ESC and a 2-channel receiver, with room to spare to neatly tuck away excess wiring. Grippy foam tires wrap around the scale racing wheels, with two large wheels and tires at the back and four small wheels and tires at the front.
We’ve covered the technical side of things, so let’s talk about the build experience. From an enthusiast’s standpoint, this kit is a real joy. The process of trimming, painting and assembling the hard-plastic body gives you a real sense of enjoyment and accomplishment when it’s completed. Every detail down to the decal placement and paint recommendations are spot-on, leaving you with an authentic scale replica. Start to finish, building the Tyrrell P34 felt more like building a scale model than it did building some plain old RC kit. Rather than being bogged down by the step-by-step nit and grit, the build takes on a much more immersive and enjoyable pace as you slowly work up to the finished product.
Some technical know-how will certainly help when it comes time to the finish and paint work on the body. I’m no paint pro, so my end result may not be as glossy as the box art, but I was still very pleased with how the kit looks when fully assembled. The sheer level of detail and craftsmanship with the whole kit is just on another level, and when it’s complete you have yourself a true scale replica.
MORE WHEELS, MORE FUN
As for driving, the F103 chassis provides great acceleration with the included RS-540 Sport Tuned motor and direct-drive transmission. The four wheels at the front and the large-diameter tires at the rear provide tons of grip that help you rocket the P34 around the track. The high-grip foam tires aren’t just for carpet, as they perform just as nicely on prepared asphalt surfaces. The F103 stays just as nimble in its 6-wheel layout, darting around curves and turns while providing smooth overall performance. The Tyrrell P34 isn’t just made for the collector’s shelf; it performs well enough to go toe-to-toe with the rest of F1 grid at your next on-road race.
What more can I say about the Tyrrell P34? It’s such an iconic car in the world of F1, let alone the world of racing in general, it only seems fitting that Tamiya continues to honor it with yet another stellar kit release. This time I was so happy to see that it includes that beautiful hard-plastic body, leaving me with a kit that I will proudly display on my shelf when it’s not out on the track for some fun! I very much recommend this kit to anyone looking for their next F1 model, as it will be great fun in both the build process as well as driving on-track. As always, thanks for tuning in for another review, and until next time remember that the possibilities in life are endless. It’s up to you to make them possible.
Source: Tamiya tamiyausa.com
Text and Images by Lauren Short