Ian Cox from WDK Motorsport took a tactical approach to the rebirth of a famous Formula 1 curio
This car was like a time capsule when it came to us straight from the Donington Collection back in 2010. The second of the Tyrrell six-wheelers — and the first definitive P34 — had been more or less untouched since its last appearance at a Grand Prix in 1977 spec with Patrick Depailler driving early that season. That’s why we decided to run the car as it was, after going through all the basics, and give it to Motor Sport to test before we pushed on with the restoration.
We didn’t want to make the car look like a shiny new pin. The intention was to keep it looking as it did when it rolled out of the museum. Racing cars weren’t slick and glossy back in the day – mechanics didn’t have time to polish them!
The car, in which Depailler notched up five podiums in 1976-77, was pulled apart down to the last rivet. The monocoque was actually in very good nick and the strength of those cars is in the glue and the riveting. We had to repair the bulkheads, but the tub was reassembled using 95 per cent of the original components.
The suspension had to be remanufactured. We had some drawings, but essentially had to reverse-engineer all the components. The most difficult job was sourcing big billets of magnesium out of which to machine the uprights, which have part of the brake caliper built into them.
We kept many of the little details. Back then you couldn’t buy 120-degree oil fittings, so you had to make them from 90-degree units. Roy Topp, who worked on the car in period and helped out with its restoration, explained how they used to cut and bend them and then weld them back together. It’s those touches that make all the difference.
The restoration, which took the best part of a year, was all about keeping the car’s originality, while making it sound for modern historic racing. It was a fascinating project to work on and offered an insight into how clever designer Derek Gardner was, but also how much of a pain the car was to run. It’s a complicated thing with all the linkages in the steering mechanism and not easy to ensure the camber of each of the four front wheels is correct.
Tyrrell P34 chassis #2 came to us as a unique bit of history and we’re happy we were able to keep it that way.
Osella-Alfa Romeo FA1E
This is the first of the 1983 Formula 1 Osellas with the complete Alfa Romeo 182 rear end, the aluminium-tubbed car that Piercarlo Ghinzani drove early in the season. Status: Full restoration of a car that came from Ghinzani’s private collection should be complete in time for the start of the 2019 season.
Alfa Romeo 182
An ex-Andrea de Cesaris chassis, owned by the same collector as the Osella, is in our workshops awaiting restoration. Status: The aim is to have it running by the end of the summer.