Matters of moment , February 1959

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Mr. Vandervell’s retirement

On January 12th British motor-racing prospects suffered a severe set-back when Mr. G. A. Vandervell issued the following announcement:

“I regret to announce, on medical advice, that at the age of sixty years I must go slower.  It is particularly regrettable to me to have to make this decision after building up a fine team, but I feel I cannot carry on by radar or remote control.

“I am sure, however, that all who have been associated with Vanwall have gained worth-while experience and have not wasted their time. The personnel can be absorbed in my company with advantage.

“The Vanwall achievements have shown that a green car can win with a comparatively small organisation. I must now leave the good work to the other green car manufacturers, and I wish them good luck.

“G.A. Vandervell “

Every motor-racing enthusiast in this country appreciates the great service which Tony Vandervell has performed for British racing and, indeed, for our National prestige by perfecting, at great personal expense and physical strain, his team of Vanwall Grand Prix cars. That ill-health has intervened just as Mr. Vandervell was planning his 1959 racing programme is indeed a cruel blow and we join our readers in wishing the Vanwall sponsor a rapid recovery.

Although the recent Honours List passed Tony Vandervell by, it is extremely good to know that the R.A.C. has awarded him the Dewar Trophy for the most outstanding engineering and technical achievement during 1958. The citation reads: “To Mr. G. A. Vandervell and Colleagues responsible for the Design, Development and Performance of the Vanwall Cars which has contributed so much to British prestige in the realm of motor sport during 1958.”

The Dewar Trophy is recognised as the Motor Industry’s premier honour. It is awarded only when the R.A.C. Technical and Engineering Committee decides that it is merited. It was won by SunbeamTalbot Ltd. in 1952 but was not awarded again until 1957, when it went to the Dunlop Rubber Co. for work on disc brakes and high-speed tyres. Now that Vanwall will not race this year the G.P. becomes very open, and Britain’s future prestige is in the hands of B.R.M., Cooper and Lotus in the Formula I field. We hope sincerely that the 1958 Vanwalls will not fall into incapable hands; perhaps one of them will be seen in the Montagu Motor Museum beside the V16 B.R.M. and other historic racing cars, or be presented to the Science Museum.

***

Road progress

Plans for combating London’s traffic jams were attacked by the Roads Campaign Council last month. The Council say:

“In London, what is the remedy offered?   A reconstructed Hyde Park Corner after ten years of talk, mind-changing, stalling. The Cromwell Road Extension, with a mammoth bottleneck being preserved at one end for a few years yet. The Strand widening  —  it took 123 years to finish it. A few similar projects complete with roundabouts, squareabouts and various other forms of knockabouts. No modern roads on the lines of those being built on the Continent. No off-street parking facilities.

“Only more restrictions. Only more appeals to the poor, bewildered road-user not to be so selfish and anti-social.

“Nobly, the authorities say they will not ban the private motorist from Central London.  But prosecute him when he stops to park. Wait for the fly to settle before you swat it.”

The Council recently announced a £4,000 competition to find a long-term plan for London’s roads. Sir William Holford, the town planner, has described it as “a challenge to youth, for whom, at present, we are leaving only a legacy of meddling and frustration.”  Certainly it is time something was done. It is now customary to spend five minutes at the roundabout at Chiswick in the rush hour before it is possible to leave the new road that will one day end in a fly-over crossing, and the other end of this road ends at Hammersmith roundabout, another notorious bottleneck, with a trolley-‘bus crossing round a bend to render it even more hazardous of time and temper.