Vanwall, the name alone sounds intriguing when attached to a green monopasto racer that somewhat resembles a racing cigar. Vanwall is the team name for one of Britain’s first Formula One race teams, the first to win the F1 Constructor’s Championship, in the first year it was offered, 1958.
Now Replicarz expands its vintage F1 car offerings with the 1957 Vanwall VW57 driven to the team’s first F1 victory which took place at Aintree, the 1957 British Grand Prix. It was also the first British-built car to win an F1 race. Drivers, yes, drivers, were Sterling Moss and Tony Brooks.
Moss was considered the best driver of the day, besides Juan Manuel Fangio, a four-time F1 champ. And Moss finished second to Fangio in the title fight when driving for the Mercedes team. But he, Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans jumped aboard the Vanwall team in 1957. But it hit its peak in 1958 when Moss and Brooks each won three races and Moss finishing second, again, in the F1 title chase, while Brooks was third. Britain’s Mike Hawthorn, driving for Ferrari, beat Moss by a single point.
The team had been started by Tony Vandervell who combined his name with that of Thinwall bearings, which Vandervell made at his plant near London. Vanwall fielded F1 teams from 1954 to 1960 as Vandervell’s health failed and the team shrunk and then folded. 1958 was Vanwall’s final full-time season in F1.
Vanwall was famous for other reasons too. Colin Chapman, later of Lotus fame, designed Vanwall’s front-engine powered racers along with aerodynamicist Frank Costin. They started with a tubular spaceframe chassis and a De Dion rear axle. Power came from a vertically mounted 4-cylinder engine delivering 285 horsepower, and a Porsche 5-speed synchromesh transmission.
The body was long and lean with a rounded teardrop shape of sorts that made them slip through the air better than some competitors. So the cars became known for their straight line speed, but not as good handlers, still being top-heavy due to their shape.
Yet in two full seasons, Vanwall racers won nine F1 grand prix and seven pole positions, before Vanwall became a part-time competitor. Ultimately, a short, but successful run!
The body is beautifully shaped and includes accurate panel lines and the slick design feature of four exhaust pipes combining into one and exiting from the hood’s left side and extending just beyond the cockpit. The pipes are a flat black.
Making the car more streamlined are two sleek side mirrors that blend with the body along with two air scoops, one on each side of the cockpit. Chapman designed the external tower shock system for the rear suspension and the silver springs are visible here, as is part of the front suspension inside the scallops on either side of the car’s nose.
Tires are treaded, but not branded and the car rides on handsome Borrani-style wire-spoked wheels that look great. There is a white No. 20 angled on the nose and two on either side of the tail just behind the cockpit. A small black mesh grille is located in the car’s nose and in an air scoop on the hood’s right side.
The cockpit includes accurate chassis framing in a matte silver finish, plus floor-mounted shift lever and proper pedals and the transaxle that runs under the tan driver’s seat. The steering wheel is a tan wood color with a flat-black three-spoke hub and there are three gauges visible on the sparse black-faced dash. – Mark Savage
Vital Stats: 1957 Vanwall Special, British GP winner
Stock No.: R18701