That British hero team from the last years of front-engined Formula 1, Vanwall, has revealed plans to re-create from scratch six of its iconic World Championship-winning race cars from 1958. And the first Vanwall road car could follow.
The news is confirmed today, 62 years to the day since Vanwall’s mission “to beat the red cars” came to pass with a victory in the 1958 Moroccan Grand Prix that sealed Vanwall’s place in history as winner of the first Formula 1 World Championship constructors’ title – crucially ahead of Ferrari and Maserati.
Five of the six “continuation” Vanwalls are for sale at £1.65 million each, excluding tax. The sixth is being retained by the company to form the core of a Vanwall Historic Racing Team. All the cars, said to be “100 per cent accurate”, have been conceived and will be built as historic race cars, each recreated anew from 1950s blueprints by historic racing and restoration company, Hall and Hall in Lincolnshire. Each car will feature a new-build version of the unique 2.5-litre four-cylinder Vanwall engine, delivering 274PS (201kW).
The blast from Britain’s motor racing past is the idea of Vanwall Group managing director and former world champion offshore powerboat racer, Iain Sanderson, who tells us: “The Vanwall name is too important to consign to history.”
Joining the craze for new-build continuation versions of historic machines is believed to be a precursor to a wider plan to give the marque its first road car. Vanwall says studies into road and race car programmes are ongoing, with the company keen to see how its “heritage in engineering and innovation could translate into a vehicle for the 2020s.”
Iain Sanderson says: “The DNA that made Vanwall race cars so successful also serves as an inspiring foundation for the future of the Vanwall marque, which I look forward to sharing in due course.”
In its short time (1954-61) Vanwall never made a road car but there have been attempts to resurrect the marque on the back of one, most recently in 2003 when Vanwall Cars produced the Vanwall GPR V12. This single-seat road car was said to have been with inspired by the race car, with its long and slender bonnet, tiny cockpit with wraparound screen and bulbous tail.
Eight things you might not know about Vanwall
The name Vanwall is a mix of the name of the team’s founder, Tony Vandervell, and that of his Thinwall bearings company
Tony Vandervell started in motorsport by modifying Ferraris for Formula Libre, calling the cars Thinwall Specials
The unique Vanwall engine was created by joining together four Norton Manx single-cylinder 498cc motorcycle engines inside an aluminium crankcase copied from that of a Rolls-Royce military engine
The cars for 1956 featured new spaceframe chassis and aerodynamic bodywork by young new designers: Colin Chapman and Frank Costin
Vanwall was an early adopter of new technologies in the 1950s, with disc brakes, synchromesh gearboxes and fuel injection giving them an advantage over what Vandervell called “the bloody red cars”
Vanwall won its first race in 1957 at the British Grand Prix with Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. It was the first time a British car with British drivers had won a round of the world championship
In 1958, Vanwall’s last full season, the team won the inaugural Formula 1 constructors’ title with maximum points – a feat that’s only happened once since
The late great Sir Stirling Moss came the closest he ever came to winning a F1 drivers’ World Championship title in a Vanwall in 1958. He missed out by one point to Mike Hawthorn