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The fourth, and last, Thinwall Special.
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Vanwall was a Formula One team in the 1950s. The Vanwall name was derived by combining the name of the team owner Tony Vandervell with that of his patented Thinwall bearing, which were produced at his Vandervell Products factory at Actonmarker, London.

Tony Vandervell was one of the original backers of British Racing Motors. In the early 1950s, he entered a series of modified Ferrarismarker in Formula Libre races under the name "Thinwall Special".

The first actual Vanwalls were known as Vanwall Specials and were built for the new Formula 1 regulations in 1954 at Cox Greenmarker, Maidenheadmarker. The chassis was designed by Owen Maddock and built by the Cooper Car Company.

The 2.0 L engine was designed by Norton engineer Leo Kuzmicki, and was essentially four Norton single-cylinder 500 cc engines merged into a single unit. The car appeared in a Grande Epreuve for the first time in that year's British Grand Prixmarker. Development continued with boring out the engines to first (91.0 x 86.0 mm) 2,237 cc (235 bhp?) for Peter Collins at Monaco 1955, and then a full (96.0 x 86.0 mm (2,489 cc) 2.5 L. Vanwalls then ran for a season in F1 without much in the way of success. At the end of the 1955 season, it was plain that while the engine was sound, the chassis needed improvement. It was suggested to Vandervell that he should hire the services of a young up-and-coming designer to improve their cars. The designer was Colin Chapman.

The new cars designed by Chapman (along with the aerodynamicist Frank Costin) showed early promise in 1956 by winning a non-championship F1 race at Silverstonemarker against strong opposition. Stirling Moss drove the car to victory in what was his only drive for Vanwall that year, as he was still contracted to drive for Maseratimarker in F1. Talented drivers Harry Schell and Maurice Trintignant were the full-timers for the season. However, neither of them had much success although the car showed obvious potential.

With the car developing and becoming ever more competitive, Moss eventually decided to drive for the team in 1957. He was joined by two Englishmen, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans. As the 1957 season unfolded, the cars became faster and more reliable. Moss and Brooks duly shared Vanwall's first Grand Prix victory in Britain at Aintreemarker, and Moss went on to win both the Italianmarker and Pescara Grands Prix.

At the end of 1957, alcohol fuels were banned and replaced by a compulsory 130-octane AVGAS fuel. This caused problems for Vanwall and B.R.M. with their large bore engines that required methanol for engine cooling. As a result, the Vanwall's power dropped from at 7,500 rpm (308 bhp with nitro-methane!) to on the test bed. During the race, where revs were reduced, only 255-262 bhp at 7,200 - 7,400 rpm was available. This put them at a disadvantage to the new Dino Ferrari V6 cars with a claimed 290 PS (286 bhp) at 8,300 rpm. The Vanwall's superior road holding, streamlining, 5-speed gearbox and disk-brakes helped offset this. The engine was based on the 498 cc Manx Norton (86.1 x 85.6 mm) single that gave at 7,200 rpm on regular petrol.

All three drivers stayed with the team in 1958, and Moss (wins in Holland, Portugal and Morocco) and Brooks (wins in Belgium, Germany and Italy) each won three championship races that season. Vanwall became the first team to win the Constructors' Championship, held for the first time that season. However, Moss lost out to Mike Hawthorn in the drivers' championship by a single point. Their triumph at the end of the season was sadly marred when, during the final race of the year in Morocco, Lewis-Evans was fatally injured in an accident.

The 1958 season was the last one in which Vanwall entered every race. Vandervell's health was failing and he had been advised by his doctors to rest. The team continued half-heartedly. Brooks made one appearance in a lower and lighter Vanwall in the 1959 British Grand Prix and the team tried again with another car in the 1960 French Grand Prixmarker. These efforts lacked the seriousness of the past however and they were unsuccessful.

The last racing Vanwall was a rear engined machine produced for the 1961 3.0 litre Intercontinental Formula. Although showing promise when campaigned by John Surtees in two races, development was stopped short when the formula did not find success in Europe. The engine was stroked to (96.0 x 90.0 mm) 2,605 cc and was rated at on 100 octane petrol.

The Donington Collectionmarker has a complete example of each model, including the rear engined car.

In 2003 Vanwall Cars was formed, producing the Vanwall GPR V12, a single-seater road-legal car bearing a strong resemblance to early Vanwall racing cars, and the Sports Racer, a two-seater of a similar style.


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