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The March 2-4-0 was a six-wheeled prototype of a Formula 1 car, which from March Engineering in Bicester was built. It was created in late 1976 and has been tested early in 1977.
The car was an evolution of the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34, but the design principle, which stood behind the 2-4-0 was completely different.
The Tyrrell P34: Four wheels, front
The undisguised front wheels of a Formula 1 car provide increased air resistance. The idea behind the Tyrrell P34 was that the air resistance with smaller front wheels can be reduced. At that time, the front wheels of F1 cars a diameter of about 16 "(40 cm), Tyrrell wanted front wheels with a 10" insert (25 cm) in diameter. The resulting reduction in lateral force of the front wheels should be increased by the use of 4-wheel all over again, so that the combined benefits of reduced air resistance and increased cornering power. All four front wheels were steerable.
The P34 was quite successful, and two of these cars occupied positions 1 and 2 in the Swedish Grand Prix in 1976. The Tyrrell team also reached the places 3 and 4 overall in the championship. In 1977, the carriage was less successful and was allowed to drop the idea. One reason for this was that Goodyear, although they had delivered a special tire for the P34, this had developed not as good as the usual racing tires. Also it was found that the relatively complicated by the four-wheel steering front suspension significantly increased the weight of the car.
Another Sechsradkonzept for F1 cars: Four wheels, rear
In March Engineering in Bicester watched the designer Robin Herd, the P34 experiment exactly the end of 1976 and came to the conclusion that the concept of the four front wheels led to an impasse. According to his calculations, the gain in aerodynamics due to the smaller front wheels of the 24 "was (60 cm) wide rear wheels reversed, since they were still responsible for 30-40% of the total drag of the car. He also thought that the extra grip could be better utilized for drive wheels.
With these ideas in mind stove constructed a six-wheeled Formula 1 racing car with four drive wheels at the rear and two steered wheels at the front, where all the wheels "had the same diameter of 16 bar. His theory was that if all six wheels of the same diameter would like the regular Formula 1 front wheels, the car would not only narrower than a normal F1 car, but the air flow over the wing would be much invertebrates poorer. Four drive wheels also meant better traction and - unlike the Tyrrell - there would be no problems with the development of special tires because the usual front wheel size would be used.
Stove called his concept based on the name in the railway system "2-4-0" - two wheels in front of the drive wheels, four driving wheels and no wheel behind the drive wheels.
Design and development
After the obvious technical advantages of the concept were pointed out to him, was Max Mosley, hearth partner in March, the development of a prototype free. Mosley had noticed that the P34 Tyrrell had given a lot of extra publicity, and thought that a six-wheeled March would provide not only technical advantages, but would also be an attractive proposition for potential sponsors.
The financial situation of the March team was quite tense in the years 1976/1977 and the cost of developing a completely new six-wheeled vehicle were very high. As a compromise, one was from a Cosworth DFV engine-powered March 761 1976 rebuilt by the team engineer Wayne Eckersley in a quiet corner of the factory in Bicester. Existing parts from the usual production were used wherever possible.
A key technology in a four-wheel drive car is the transmission. A brilliant idea for reducing friction losses was required. The transmission would also stronger - and therefore heavier - than be an ordinary gear to withstand the higher stresses of a four wheel drive system with low axial spacing.
Herds original construction of the transmission housing was reinforced to compensate for the additional load of ribs. Then it was realized, however, that this case would have been very complex and expensive to manufacture. So you removed some ribs again from the drawing in order to save costs.
Actually consisted the new transmission from a conventional Hewland -F1 gearbox for the first drive shaft to which the additional housing and extra gears and shafts for the second drive axle were just grown back. This also meant that any 761 chassis would be quickly rebuilt when the system would prove impractical.
When the 2-4-0 was partially completed, invited the press to the end of November 1976 in a factory to take a look at the hitherto "secret" project. This revelation sparked great interest and appeared in various magazines, articles and additionally motor a photo on the cover of the magazine Auto Sport in the following week (December 2, 1976 edition).
At the same time the company also announced that the new car in 14 days for a demonstration ride and for more test runs after Silverstone wanted to send ..
The first driving test in Silverstone was conducted in late in 1976. In the first round, made a gearbox and the gears not meshed. And there was found no solution to the problem immediately, the drive for the second axis has been expanded and moved to the test on this day to end. Thus, the 2-4-0 was in the end back to the cars with only one driven axle. Fortunately for March, it was a rainy day on the track and the driver Howden Ganley could not drive too fast. Thus, the test in the media was considered a success.
The problems in the first round showed that the car needed a stronger gearbox and a serious development. Since the company but neither have the time nor the money necessary for this purpose could muster, the project was initially postponed.
In February 1977, the car was - now with a stronger gearbox - again tested at Silverstone. Ian Scheckter was the driver this time. Although it was a rainy day again, Scheckter drove the car up and down the Hangar Straight. All four wheels are driven and Scheckter was at this time that the traction "incredible" is. Moreover, the events of that day were back on the front page of Autosport mentioned (Issue February 10, 1977).
But this was about the end of the development history of the 2-4-0. Than 761 showed up in June at the Belgian Grand Prix, he was again a conventional F1 car with four wheels.
The myth of the emergence of the Grand Prix of Brazil
In August 2002, an article appeared on the website 8W, who claimed due to a misinterpreted photos, the 2-4-0 "might" be the end of January 1977 mitgefahren the Grand Prix of Brazil. But actually showed the picture shown for a test drive the car at Silverstone in February 1977 based on contemporary reports from the Grand Prix of Brazil know that the 2-4-0 was definitely not there. The author of the website has been corrected his article, but before that he served as a source for a number of other websites.
In 1979, the 2-4-0-concept was revived by the British hillclimb specialist Roy Lane. Lane had purchased a March 771 chassis and got with Robin hearth blessing asked the improved 2-4-0-Transmission unit. The fact that the 2-4-0 was originally a low-cost workshop conversion of a normal March-F1 chassis, made sure that Lane could easily be adapted to his car.
Lane took advantage of four-wheel drive and won with the 771/2-4-0 some mountain races, primarily in the Wiscombe Park in May. However, the car proved in the season as not sufficiently reliable and Lane resorted to return a car with four wheels.
Despite its limited success in the short race was never proven that the 2-4-0-concept would not suck. Maybe the 2-4-0 would have been successful in Formula 1, if they'd improved it a weight reduction program undergo (possibly with lighter and stronger materials) and the dubious handling. The concept would certainly be good for the coming technology of the increased output adjusted in Formula 1.
The Williams F1 team has probably made himself hearth own theories, because they built and tested in 1982, a six-wheeled vehicle in the style of 2-4-0, which was called FW08B. However, all hopes of ever seeing a 2-4-0 in an official race were nullified when the FIA banned all-wheel drive systems in Formula 1. The FW08B is exhibited in the work of Williams Museum.
However, the March-2-4-0-story'd be good for the company that built it. As Max Mosley had foreseen, the car was a great Publicitymagnet. March also made good money on the sale of the building rights on Scalextric, the manufacturer of the best selling toy 1:32 racetracks.