March 2-4-0: The six-wheeler Formula 1 that could not be

Considered a concept with a great future, the financial problems that March faced for its development prevented its arrival at the top category.

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The ingenious proposal of Tyrell with model P34 used in the 1976 season of the F1 inspired other teams to create their own six-wheelers, although the creation of Ken tyrrell went down in history as the only one who had the honor of running and winning in the highest category. March It was one of those teams, although in its version the rear it was the one that used the two extra wheels.

Tyrrell P34
The Tyrrell P34 went down in history as the only six-wheeled F.1 to race and win in Formula 1.

The team founded by Max mosley, Alan Rees, Graham coaker y Robin herd He looked closely at Tyrrell's original proposal, although he understood that the four-front-wheel concept was difficult to achieve an optimal aerodynamic balance due to the difference between the front and rear tires.

Herd, who was the team's chief engineer, felt it best to put four wheel drive at the rear for extra grip, something that the early '80s proved Williams y Ferrari. Thus was born the March 2-4-0, which saw the light of day at the end of 1976 and was intensively tested in the first months of 1977.

March 2-4-0
The March 2-4-0 had all four wheels on the rear end.

One of the keys to Herd's creation was the size of the tires. All six had the same 16-inch diameter. With this decision, this March was not only going to be the narrowest car in Formula 1, but it would also have better aerodynamics thanks to the fact that the air would reach the rear without turbulence. It also avoided one of the main pitfalls that Tyrrell encountered, the high cost it meant to Goodyear develop small rubbers for a single team.

Mosley, responsible for the financial area of ​​the English structure, found the proposal interesting and gave free rein for the construction of the prototype. He was not only convinced of its proper functioning but that it seemed like a way to get more attention, as had happened with Tyrrell, and thus obtain sponsors.

March 2-4-0
The transmission was the most difficult development that March had to face.

However, March's delicate finances prevented him from building the car from scratch and so one of the models was adapted. 761 employed in the '76 tournament. Special work went into developing a transmission to minimize any friction power loss. Originally, I was going to have many reinforcements to counteract the bending and twisting forces generated by the four drive wheels. But in this instance money was also a problem. Without much funding, only a few minor modifications were made.

A Hewland gearbox for the first rear axle; while the additional axle was connected with a new pinion with all the gears and a second differential from which two other semi-shafts came out. This solution would allow a quick adaptation of the four-wheel scheme and the special transmission to any 761 chassis.

March 2-4-0
The March 2-4-0 that Ian Scheckter tested in February 1977.

The March 2-4-0 was presented with great fanfare to the press at the end of November and its first tests were carried out during the first half of December in Silverstone. When they were consulted for its name, the team leaders explained that the 2 was for its two steering wheels; the 4, by the four motor vehicles; and 0 because he had no financial support ...

Already from the first lap the car, equipped with an engine Cosworth, Had problems. The lack of reinforcements in the transmission was noticed as soon as he left the pits: the gearbox flexed and the gears shot out of the vehicle that had the New Zealander Howden ganley behind the wheel. With no chance to solve the fault in an efficient way, the crown and pinion of the second axle were directly disconnected. Thus the 2-4-0 became a two-wheel-drive car ...

March 2-4-0
Roy Lane adapted the concept for climbing races.

March secured the necessary funds to improve the transmission and returned to Silverstone in February of the following year. Ian Scheckter, the brother of Jody Scheckter, was the tester. The South African was pleasantly surprised with the good performance of the vehicle, mainly with its grip. Nevertheless, the enthusiasm of the team was no longer the same and the project's thumb was lowered.

Months later that car was reconfigured to its original four-wheel condition and used by the team to complete the '77 season.

The 2-4-0 concept was never refuted. Moreover, it was always thought that with the money necessary to follow the designs to the letter, it could have been successful. Mainly, with the arrival of ground effect. So much so that Herd's creation served as the inspiration for Williams to create a similar vehicle in 1982, the Williams FW08B, which did not compete for the decision of the International Automobile Federation to prohibit this type of single-seater.

March 2-4-0
March sold the rights to his creation to Scalectrix.

In 1979 its effectiveness was proven, although in a climbing race. Roy lane, an expert in this specialty, took a March 771 and bought the upgraded transmission that had been used in 2-4-0. With this hybrid, known as 771 / 2-4-0, He won several events thanks to his tremendous grip, although at the end of the year he abandoned it due to constant mechanical problems.

Ah! Mosley got what he wanted. Thanks to the notoriety he had with his six-wheelers, March sold the rights to the car to Scalectrix which created a slot replica on the scale 1/32...

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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