Matters Of Moment, October 1957



The Magnificent Vanwall Achievement

Last month we devoted a leader to congratulating Fangio on his fifth World Championship. The previous month we offered congratulations to Vanwall and Stirling Moss on winning the G.P. d’Europe. Now Motor Sport joins British motor-racing enthusiasts in praising the magnificent achievement of Tony Vandervell in winning so convincingly the Italian G.P. with his Vanwall. This is unquestionably the greatest G.P. victory ever achieved by a British car, for at Syracuse two years ago Connaught merely caught Maserati napping, at Aintree Vanwall won “at home,” at Pescara they won convincingly one of the smaller races, but at Monza Stirling Moss’ Varnwall vanquished eleven Maseratis and four Ferraris and lapped Fangio himself, while Brooks’ Vanwall set the lap record and Lewis-Evans made fastest practice time. The British Vanwall has proved itself capable of beating the greatest Continental Grand Prix cars and drivers, on classic circuits.

Tony Vandervell broke into modern motor-racing only eight years ago and he deserves the greatest credit for having achieved supremacy in the Grand Prix field. He has done this by demanding absolute efficiency in everything that affects the Vanwall team. The cars are built to tool-room standards on fabulously expensive machines. Sufficient spare cars and engines are maintained to ensure the entry of complete teams. Modern transport vehicles are used and a team of drivers of the highest calibre has been signed on. The result is success — success far more convincing even than that tasted by Segrave and the now legendary Sunbeam in France 34 years ago. (Incidentally, one of the nicest aspects of Vandervell’s success is the way in which he refuses to use Vanwall victories to advertise his Thinwall bearings — racing is, literally, his hobby.)

In offering Mr. Vandervell heartfelt congratulations, Motor Sport links his name with those of Leo Kuzmicki who helped develop the efficient Vanwall engine, Harry Weslake who investigated the gas flow in the cylinder heads, Colin Chapman who designed the tubular space-frame and revised the suspension, Frank Costin who planned the low-drag body, David Yorke who manages the team, Fred Fox, the engineer in charge, and chief mechanic Cyril Atkins, ably assisted by M. Birkinshaw, D. Orchard and the other mechanics. At Monza we saw three green cars on the front row of the starting-grid. Next year let us hope to see Vanwalls finishing in invincible 1, 2, 3 order in the major G.P. races.

There is every possibility of the cars from Acton accomplishing this but it is to be hoped that insistence next year on “commercial petrol” for G.P. racing will not undo all the good work put into the Vanwall engine. Ferrari seem happy about the proposed new ruling, so it will probably he adopted. But many experts consider this would be a retrograde step and some even believe that so much is now known about racing-car engines that all future Grands Prix should be Formule Libre, disregarding even a capacity limit, on the grounds that no matter what size and type of car is adopted cost of construction will be levelled out in the pursuit of race-winning performance. With highly specialised vehicles competing in sports-car races, is it logical to impose restrictions on the design of G.P. racing cars?

The Importance of Rallies

With sports/racing cars becoming more and more removed from catalogue models, the importance of the major rallies as a car-buying yardstick should not be overlooked. The competing vehicles are not necessarily standard but their performance over thousands of miles of road motoring at least emphasises that they are practical cars for those who can afford replicas. It is excellent that many great rallies are still held in spite of organisational difficulties, and the good showing of the value-for-money Triumph TR sports cars and the Nancy Mitchell/Joan Johns M.G. MGA in the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally will not have been overlooked by enthusiasts for British cars — and warm felicitations to Nancy on winning the Ladies’ European Touring Championship. Outright victory in this tough Continental contest by a Porsche endorses our recommendation of air-cooled rear-engined motor cars while the Tour de France was a vindication of the Ferrari Europa.


A Verifax Copier having been installed at our offices, we are able to offer copies of any article appearing in any issue of Motor Sport for 1s. a page. In view of the large number of Motor Sport road-test reports published in the past 33 years, and the many specialised articles under such headings as “Veteran Types,” “Side-slips,” “Cars I have Owned,” ” Famous Vintage Makes,” “Motoring Sportsmen,” etc., etc., as well as innumerable technical descriptions, race reports, historical surveys, etc., your future pleasure and research reading should be almost inexhaustibly enhanced by this new service. Inquiries and orders to Motor Sport, 15, City Road, London. E.C.1.

Motor Sport Proposes

The newsagent disposes. We have heard from many renders that they were unable to get their free copies of Motoring News; in fact, in some cases they were asked to pay 6d. We are sorry if you were disappointed, but most of our readers saw the copy and have since bought the issues of September 12th, 19th and 26th, and thousands, we have heard, have found just what they wanted — a newspaper giving the weekly highlights of motoring for only sixpence.

The November issue of Motor Sport will be published, during the London Motor Show, on October 23rd. At Earls Court Motor Sport will occupy Stand 74, Ground Floor.