Some might say that four wheels are better than two, so surely adding a couple more can’t hurt? A handful of established and specialist car makers have produced some weird and wonderful six-wheeled cars over the years – and we’ve picked the top 15.
Having a car with six wheels tends to imply absolute excess, which is why quite a few of these cars have come from independent tuners or the skunkworks operations of major manufacturers.
Here is a collection of unusual cars with 6 wheels from around the world.
1. Tyrrell P34
With four minuscule front wheels and gigantic rear tyres, the Tyrrell P34 is arguably one of the most distinctive Formula One cars of all time. Even in the outlandish era of seventies motorsport, few racers looked this extreme.
Affectionately known as the six-wheeler, it debuted at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix, and later that season Tyrrell drivers Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter drove their P34s to first and second in the Swedish Grand Prix. However, former world champ Scheckter openly called the car “a piece of junk!”.
2. Williams FW08B
Think of six-wheeled F1 cars and you’ll most likely recall Tyrrell’s P34. The unique car, with four dinky wheels up front, managed to win a single race in 1976.
But it was not the only six-wheeler built for Formula 1. The final effort, created by Williams in 1982, looked promising in testing but the FIA stepped in to ban the technology.
3. Panther 6
The Panther 6 was the original extravagant six-wheeled supercar. It debuted at the 1977 Earls Court Motorfair and wowed the crowds with its appearance and sheer excess.
Under the bonnet was an 8.2-litre Cadillac V8 with a claimed 600bhp and an equally unproven 200mph top speed, while luxuries included a telephone in each door and dash-mounted TV. The price tag of £39,950 was around 40 per cent more than the expensive Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the time.
4. 1978 Sbarro Function Car
It would seem that back in 1978, Swiss “car designer” Franco Sbarro spent nearly the entire year under the influence of powerful narcotics. That’s the only sensible explanation for the six-wheeled rolling abomination that he managed to create that year. Called ironically the Sbarro Function Car, the leviathan was a based on a lengthened Cadillac Eldorado and weighed over 3 tons. It was powered by a 350 horsepower 8.2 litre V8 mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.
5. FAB 1
FAB 1 was a pink Rolls-Royce saloon car owned by Lady Penelope and driven by her manservant Parker.
It was made for the Creighton-Ward family and was Lady Penelope’s preferred mode of transport. It had been modified by Brains and the Rolls-Royce company.
Some of the modifications included: Front and rear machine cannons, rear harpoon cables, two rear laser cannons, a rear-view TV camera, bulletproof tires with retractable studs, a modified gas turbine engine, skis for snow use, and hydrofoils enabling it to travel on water.
FAB 1 was presumably destroyed when Skyship One crashed to the ground in the movie Thunderbird 6.
6. Briggs & Stratton Gasoline/Electric Hybrid
The car is the amazing 1980 Briggs & Stratton Gasoline/Electric Hybrid concept car. In some ways it was way ahead of its time, and even came up with some really novel solutions to problems we still have today; in other ways, it was just bonkers.
7. Covini C6W
A spiritual successor to the Panther 6, the Covini C6W six-wheeled supercar was unveiled in 2004. Sporting the same four-up-front, two-at-the-back wheel layout, the C6W used a mid-mounted 434bhp 4.2-litre Audi V8, and had a claimed top speed of 185mph.
Covini claimed the combination of four-wheel steering and a kerbweight of less than 1,200kg made it agile enough to give established supercars a run for their money. It’s unknown how many, if any at all, have been built.
8. Mini XXL Stretch Limo
This six-wheel limo is six metre long, features the John Cooper Works Tuning Kit and was built by a specialist coach builder in Los Angeles.
9. Alfa Romeo T33/6/12
Designed to give the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 a run for its money, the Alfa Romeo sported a 5-liter V12/60 degrees/4v engine and six wheels in total.
The six-wheel Alfa Romeo T33 project was cancelled abruptly after teens from a local high school snuck onto the raceway at night and stole the car from its hanger/garage. The chassis was found two weeks later in a nearby orange grove minus the engine.
The car was originally designed by production designer and art director Carol Spier and is one of only two made for the film. It’s fully functional and complete – although sadly it’s not legal for use on UK roads – and was used throughout the film.
Starting life as a Land Rover fire tender, the car was adapted via a steel frame with the addition of a Rover V8 engine. The chassis is covered in an intricate ivory-coloured fibreglass shell and is embellished with an aged gold effect on the exterior and in the cabin. The decorative elements were inspired by the Hindu god Ganesha and assorted flora and fauna (Nemo was the son of an Indian raja), and the interior is trimmed with faux leather. However, the original Land Rover dials are still in place.
The wheels are all 72cm and hidden within the arches are hydraulics to adjust the ride height. The car retains most of its original functionality and shows signs of wear and evidence of running repairs from on-set use.
11. Hispano Suiza Victoria Town Car
This automobile was recorded as being built in Barcelona and the body was designed and built by Leon Rubay.
The car was bought by the Hollywood director D.W. Griffith for $35,000. It appeared in the 1933 film “My Lips Betray” and a few war movies.
12. Tissier Citroen CX
Pierre Tissier is the man behind the transformation of many Citroën sedan into ambulances, vans and car carriers.
13. Leotard Renault 5
This 6×6 Renault 5 was the result of automotive experimenter Christian Leotard, who essentially had the car built on a lark.
To build the car, Leotard went to Tissier, a man known for his extreme 6-wheel conversions of French cars. Along with the extra rear wheels, the R5 had an extensively reinforced frame with square-section tubing, a lot of custom bodywork aft of the B-pillar, including all those windows, and a Hydrostatic transmission similar to what would be found on a tracked vehicle.
All six wheels are driven, there’s a half-dozen disc brakes, and the car was good to haul almost 1600 lbs. Leotard entered the car in the Dakar rally in 1980, and it appears to have at least finished the rally.
14. March 2-4-0
This car followed on from a previous effort by Tyrrell P34 to introduce a six-wheeled car to F1 racing. The March Engineering Company of Bicester, UK, built it. But, the engineering concept behind the 2-4-0 was quite different.
15. Pat Clancy Special
Powered by a Meyer-Drake engine, it sported no less than six wheels; it was raced at the Indianapolis 500 in 1948. “The four wheels at the back were driven by two axles connected by a universal joint, making the Pat Clancy Special a four-wheel drive car.”