Its time in the world championship spotlight was brief but spectacular, with nine wins from 28 starts
H aving entered a series of Ferraris as Thinwall Specials to promote and test his bearings, Guy Anthony Vandervell decided to turn constructor in his own right. The renamed Vanwall established a base in Acton, where Leo Kuswicki designed a straight-four twin-overhead cam engine using Norton and Rolls-Royce parts. The Cooper Car Company was commissioned to build the Vanwall Special that Peter Collins drove on its championship debut in the 1954 British GP.
Harry Schell won a couple of non-championship races in 1955 and the following season Colin Chapman designed a new car fitted with Frank Costin’s aerodynamic body. Stirling Moss joined the team to win the 1956 International Trophy and Schell scored points in Belgium. Moss and Tony Brooks were regular team members in 1957 and combined at Aintree to score the first world championship GP win for a British car. Moss scored further victories in the Pescara and Italian GPs, finishing as runner-up to Juan Manuel Fangio for a third successive season.
Moss and Brooks both won three times in ’58 as Vanwall lifted the inaugural title for constructors. Once again Moss, who also won the Argentine GP in Rob Walker’s Cooper, failed to overturn Hawthorn’s advantage in the finale. At the height of his team’s success, however, Vandervell withdrew at the end of the season on doctor’s orders. Brooks later started a couple of GPs in Vanwalls before the firm’s name disappeared from F1 after the 1960 French GP.