The concept was also used successfully on the race track. The Tyrrell P34, a radical design with four tiny front wheels, won a race and scored 13 podiums in the 1976 and 1977 Formula One championships. March also created a six-wheeled F1 racer in late 1976. The 2-4-0 had a more traditional two-axle rear setup but failed to start in an official race.
I'm pretty sure many of you are familiar with the vehicles above, but did you know that someone built a six-wheeled Buick Electra in the 1970s? The somewhat mysterious rig survived for more than 50 years, and it's now looking for a new owner.
The prototype popped up on Facebook Marketplace and appears to be in excellent condition for an experimental vehicle. The story goes that this strange-looking Electra was born in 1972 as a project funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Word has it that adding the extra rear axle cost $60,000 at the time. That's 11 times the price of a new 1971 Electra and the equivalent of around $450,000 in 2023. Quite a pretty penny, huh?
The purpose of this project is still a mystery. While some speculate the second rear axle had something to do with increased towing capacity, the seller claims the prototype was created to provide RWD vehicles with extra grip in snowy conditions. Given that the extra wheels are independently sprung and can be hidden in the rear fenders when not in use, the latter scenario makes sense.
Based on the photos provided by the seller, this Buick spent some time in a junkyard. The car was rescued and restored; it currently runs and drives, but "it needs some work." I spotted some imperfections here and there, but the blue paint and matching interior are in great shape.
The retracting rear wheels seem to be the only modifications made to the car. The vehicle is pretty much a factory 1971 Electra apart from the third axle and sports a stock 455-cubic-inch (7.4-liter) V8 engine under the hood. The mill was rated 315 or 330 horsepower when new. The car comes with a partly damaged build sheet that confirms it left the assembly line as a regular Electra.
Now located in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, the six-wheel coupe carries a $100,000 price tag. Well, that's insanely high, given that regular 1971 Electras rarely fetch more than $20,000 in Excellent, low-mileage condition. Sure, it's a one-of-one prototype and all that, but it's also a weird contraption with very limited desirability.