Former Tyrrell designer Derek Gardner passed away today at the age of 79.
Gardner is most famous as the designer of the revolutionary (albeit short-lived) Tyrrell P34 six-wheeler, along with its predecessor chassis for the British constructor.
A trained engineer who worked predominantly with transmission design, Gardner was hired by the Matra concern in 1969 to help it develop a four-wheel-drive system for its F1 cars.
Ken Tyrrell – then a customer of Matra – met Gardner and secretly hired him to design the first Tyrrell chassis (the 001), which was built in the garage of Gardner’s home.
The 001 wasn’t a race-winner, but it proved a solid car and later led to the development of the Tyrrell 003, which Jackie Stewart piloted to the World Championship in 1971.
The team took a second championship in 1973, but the year was tinged with sadness with the death of Stewart’s team-mate François Cevert at Watkins Glen, and Stewart retired at the end of the season.
The competitiveness of the team wasn’t the same thereafter, but the six-wheeler designed for 1976 was revolutionary, although – with just a single win – it didn’t bring the success the team had hoped.
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]