On September 19, 1931, Derek Gardner was born. Gardner became known for designing advanced transmission systems as part of his Formula One career, where he developed some exceptional tech that hadn’t been used in the sport before.
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Gardner got his start with the Matra team in 1969, when he was designing the team’s four-wheel drive system. That was how he met Ken Tyrrell, the team owner who was using Matra chassis at the time. When Tyrrell decided to build his own chassis, he recruited Gardner to design the Tyrrell 001. He was responsible for designing the cars that scored Jackie Stewart’s championships in 1971 and 1973.
Unfortunately, Gardner is likely most known for his brilliantly designed Tyrrell P34, known as the six-wheeled Tyrrell. This car was designed to improve cornering and traction with the smaller tires, but the intention unfortunately didn’t line up with reality; Gardner noticed that the rulebook just assumed cars would have four wheels, so he had some leniency with the rules. The small wheels saw extreme wear on brakes, and the overall design just didn’t quite work.
Jody Scheckter was the only driver to score a win with the P34, but he was very vocal about the fact that he felt the car was “a piece of junk.”
Gardner retired from F1 in the middle of the 1977 season after the pain of that vehicle. He went on to work for the Borg-Warner clutch company, where he continued to lend his bright mind to designing and researching improved automotive technology.