The Legends That Won

In the 1950s, Britain had a problem. Despite having a healthy supply of talented racing drivers, few teams could get within touching distance of the Italians who dominated Formula 1 with the engineering excellence of Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. But, from the moment Tony Vandervell vowed “to beat those bloody red cars” in the mid-1950s, all of that would change. Getting serious in 1956, Vandervell drafted in Lotus founder Colin Chapman to design the chassis and Frank Costin to design the wind-cheating Vanwall body shape before calling on none other than Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans to drive for the team in 1957. With a crack squad at his disposal, the Vanwall outfit was firing on all four cylinders of its unique 2.5-litre engine and the team sailed to victory in 1958 to claim the first World Constructors Championship Trophy in Formula 1 history.


His autobiography is called ‘Poetry in Motion’. That title was created by others, he was far too modest. A dentist by his other profession, Tony won three of the nine races Vanwall competed at in 1958. His style was very fluent and graceful, flying down the straights and flowing through the corners. Brooks won in 1958 at Spa, Nurburgring and then poignantly at Monza, racing home of the red cars.

Formula One (F1) Vanwall race driver Tony Brooks getting a push to start off in the Vanwall race car

Stuart Lewis-Evans

The emerging talent who gained his place in the team as the #3 driver via persistence and sheer skill. Though destined to be a future champion, he crashed at Casablanca and tragically succumbed to injuries six days later.His untimely death was a blow to the team and felt personally by owner Tony Vandervell who was always close to his drivers. Stuart showed promise with 3rd places at both Spa and Oporto.

Formula One (F1) Vanwall race team driver Stuart Lewis-Evans in the Vanwall race car

Sir Stirling Moss

In 1958 Sir Stirling was at the peak of his amazing driving powers. Everyone admired his remarkable skills, putting his car into controlled drifts, like few others before or since.His assertive style set the pace for the team, winning was all. He tested every car to its limits before a race and then chose the best. Stirling won at Zandvoort, Oporto and Casablanca.

Stirling Moss in the driver's seat of the F1 Vanwall race car getting a starting push by the team.

The Car

For 1956, a new chassis by Colin Chapman (who founded Lotus) and aerodynamics by renowned aerospace engineer Frank Costin unleashed Vanwall's true potential. In 1958 with upgraded suspension, numerous upgrades and more leading to improved reliability the car became a consistent race winner and thereby Constructors World Champion.

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Image by Peter Harholdt for Revs Institute of original VW5/11, part of the Miles Collier Collection at Revs Institute. 


Vanwall and the World Constructors Championship

The 1958 Vanwall can rightly claim to be one of the greatest ever front engine F1 race cars. Vanwall won 66.6%  of its nine races that year, securing a points maximum as only the best six results counted. Quite clearly no other car, not even a Ferrari, could get close to a Vanwall on the limit, where they spent most of their race-track time.
1958 and the winning mind-set at Vanwall secured its name forever as the first on the World Constructors Trophy, a remarkable and enduring achievement.

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