BRABHAM FORD BT34
After his retirement from active competition Jack Brabham, who later was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1979, had sold his Grand Prix team to his partner and fellow countryman Ron Tauranac to return to his home country Australia. So the England born designer had become team owner and chief engineer of Motor Racing Developments Ltd., as the Brabham racing facilities were named officially, in personal union.
After being very successful with the Ford Cosworth powered BT33s for Brabham himself and German driver Rolf Stommelen in 1970, Tauranac created the BT34 for the following year. In contrast to it´s predecessor, the BT34 was a very modern design, very unusual for the more or less conservative thinking and acting Tauranac. It had got a box-shaped monocoque chassis made out of aluminum sheets. The water radiators were devided into two elements put ahead of the front wheels to be covered aerodynamically. Between the two radiators a great front wing was placed. This solution should bring both greater downforce and better weight balance. The original specification of the BT34 used lateral oil radiators, later they were transferred into the back of the car.
Graham Hill from Rob Walker´s private Lotus team and Tim Schenken from Frank Williams´ semi-works De Tomaso outfit had joined M.R.D. for 1971 and the things looked promising. While Hill drove the new BT34, that had got the nickname of The Lobster by his characteristic nose section, Schenken still sat in the cockpit of the conventional BT33 from 1970. Both the cars appeared in the traditional turquiose and yellow livery. Hill won the International Trophy at Silverstone, a non-championship event in May, with the BT34 hoping for further victories in the following Grand Prix meetings. But success did not come his way, also taking away Schenken´s dream of also getting a BT34 model. So the Brabham staff made the decision, to keep Hill´s BT34 the sole car built of this type ever. They modified the BT33 for the rest of the season giving Schenken a fine 3rd place at the Austrian Grand Prix, where Hill scored his best result with the BT34 in a championship round, when coming home 5th position. At the end of the year M.R.D. finished 9th and last in the constructors´worldchampionship. Even in spring that year, they had decided to build a new car using the lighter monocoque chassis of the BT34.
But meanwhile Ron Tauranac had to recognize, that designing, team managing and selling Brabham´s customers´cars in the lower formulas, was much too much for a single person. He sold M.R.D. to Bernie Ecclstone to stay there as an employed designer. Ecclestone signed up with the Latin American youngster stars Carlos Reutemann from Argentina and Wilson Fittipaldi, the older brother of Emerson, from Brazil, while Graham Hill remained in the team.
Having critized the BT34 a lot, Graham Hill switched back into the BT33 to hand over his car to Reutemann. In his first ever Grand Prix, additionally taking place at his home ground of Buenos Aires, the Argentine took the meanwhile white coloured car onto pole position. Started on qualifying rubber (!), he was able to follow leading Jackie Stewart in the Tyrrell Ford very closely until lap 7. Then he had to come into the pits for a quick tyre change putting him back to 7th place on the finish line.
After a quarrell with Ecclestone Ron Tauranac lost his job at M.R.D. to be replaced by Ralph Bellamy. He put the conventional single radiator back to the BT34 design, also adding some a modifications to it, creating this way the BT37, that gave it´s debut at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama with Graham Hill in the cockpit.
From the Belgian Grand Prix of Nivelles near Bruxelles, the only BT34 produced ever, was handed over to Wilson Fittipaldi, who drove it until the end of the year, but scored no points. Later the Brazilian bought the car together with his brother for their small private museum in their Interlagos based Copersucar Fittipaldi factory.
Model Designation: BT34 Years: 1971 & 1972 Designer: Ron Tauranac Chassis: Brabham aluminum monocoque Engine: Ford Cosworth 3.0 litre DFV V8 Gearbox: Hewland DG300 5 speed Sponsors: Esso (Fuels and Oils), Argentine Meat (Beef), Bardahl (Oils) Drivers: Graham Hill/GB, Carlos Reutemann/RA, Wlison Fittipaldi/BR Best Result: 5th (Hill in Austria 1971)
Graham Hill/GB, Brabham Ford BT34 (1971)
Technical exclusive images by Klaus Ewald taken at the 2005 Jim Clark Revival at Hockenheim
Brabham Ford BT34 
Brabham Ford BT34 
Graham Hill / Brabham Ford BT34 (1971)
Graphics by project * 2000
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