Vanwall is reviving its F1-winning car after 62 years

If you’re a fan of the early days of Formula One racing and have around $2 million to spare, we have news for you: Vanwall is building six continuation cars of its championship-winning VW5. If you’re not familiar with the name, Vanwall built and raced Formula One cars from 1954 to 1960, winning nine races and the world championship in 1958. Vanwall was run by Tony Vandervell and his team included famed engineers Colin Chapman and Frank Costin. Vanwall Group, the successor to the British racing team, will build six new continuation cars.

Hand-built extravaganza

This Reborn Vanwall Formula 1 Car Has a Seizure-Inducing Price Tag Exterior
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Each Formula One car will be hand-built using original drawings and blueprints from the 1950s.

Vanwall Group stresses that each example "will be painstakingly built over thousands of hours by historic racing and vehicle restoration experts." The continuation VW5 will be powered by replicas of the original 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 270 horsepower.

This Reborn Vanwall Formula 1 Car Has a Seizure-Inducing Price Tag Drivetrain
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Details are still slim as of this writing, but the photos released by Vanwall suggest that the continuation cars will feature the company’s historic livery. Like most British racing stables from the era, Vanwall had its cars painted in British Racing Green. The cars will also include yellow accents on the nose and racing numbers on the front deck and rear hump. It’s not clear whether customers will be allowed to choose a different color, but it’s unlikely.

The continuation Vanwall VW5 doesn’t come cheap

This Reborn Vanwall Formula 1 Car Has a Seizure-Inducing Price Tag Exterior
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Just like Jaguar and Shelby, Vanwall is charging a lot of money for its continuation cars. Each VW5 will cost £1.65 million, which converts to around $2.16 million as of October 2020. The sticker doesn’t include VAT, so the price will be higher depending on where you live.

In Britain, where Vanwall operates, VAT is 20 percent, so this mean that the actual price of the racer comes in at £1.98 million. That's $2.6 million or as much as a modern hypercar.

Vanwall will build six continuation cars, but only five will be offered for private sale. The sixth car will remain with the company to form the core of a Historic Racing Team. There’s no word as to when deliveries will begin, but the first car will probably be ready sometime in 2021.

Formula One success

This Reborn Vanwall Formula 1 Car Has a Seizure-Inducing Price Tag Exterior
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Vanwall debuted in Formula One in 1954, competing against Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes, Lancia, and Cooper. The British racing team scored modest results in its first three seasons, with the first win arriving in 1957. Vanwall took the checkered flag for the first time at 1957 British Grand Prix with Sir Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks sharing driving duties in a VW5. Vanwall scored two more wins by the end of the season, but Stirling Moss lost the driver’s championship to Juan Manuel Fangio. Formula One did not offer a manufacturer’s championship back then, but Vanwall would have finished in second place, behind Maserati.

Vanwall reached its performance peak in 1958, also with the VW5. The Brits won six of the nine races they entered and won the manufacturer’s title ahead of Ferrari and Cooper. Despite winning four races (three with Vanwall and one with Cooper), Stirling Moss narrowly lost the driver’s championship to Scuderia Ferrari’s Mike Hawthorn. The latter scored just a win, but took the second position in five races, thus gathering more points than Moss, which retired four times throughout the season.

Led by engineers Colin Chapman and Frank Costin, Vanwall pioneered the use of disc brakes in Formula One. With Tony Vandervell’s health failing, Vanwall entered only a few races in 1959 and 1960. The new VW59 and VW11 designs proved unsuccessful against the new mid-engined Coopers and Vanwall abandoned racing after one final attempt in the 1961 Intercontinental Formula.

Ciprian Florea
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Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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Vanwall Group, the successor to the legendary British Vanwall motor racing team of the 1950s, has announced the renaissance of the historic name with plans to build six new continuation cars to celebrate Vanwall’s six Formula One wins in 1958. Vanwall had already become the first British-built car to win the British Grand Prix with a British driver, with Sir Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks sharing the honours in 1957. The six victories in 1958 gave Vanwall its eternal position as the first winner of the Formula One World Constructors Trophy, and to this day, Vanwall remains the first of only two Formula One teams ever to have recorded a maximum points score in a championship season. The 19th October 1958 was the day Vanwall clinched the memorable championship win in Morocco.

Only five of the continuation cars will be offered for private sale, with the sixth car forming the core of a Vanwall Historic Racing Team. Each vehicle will be painstakingly built over thousands of hours by historic racing and vehicle restoration experts, Hall and Hall in Lincolnshire, England. The faithful continuation cars will feature the powerful 270bhp 2,489cc Vanwall engine, all meticulously engineered using original drawings and blueprints from the 1950s. Each hand-built continuation car will be sold for £1.65 million ex VAT.

In its day, Vanwall was a byword in the paddock for innovative engineering, with the Colin Chapman-designed chassis complementing the aerodynamics by Frank Costin. They pioneered, for example, the use of disc brakes rather than drum brakes in Formula One thus giving a small competitive advantage over the Ferraris. Roll the clock forwards 62 years, Vanwall Group has already commenced investigations to understand how the historic Vanwall brand DNA could translate into a vehicle for the 2020s, with studies ongoing into future road and race car programmes.

Announcing the continuation cars, Managing Director of Vanwall Group, Iain Sanderson, said; “The Vanwall name is too important to consign to history. The Vanwall story is untold to many, but it is a great British tale of innovation and achievement and shows what happens when the right team come together and push themselves fearlessly to reach a clearly defined goal. On this anniversary, we think the time is right to celebrate this great British story of success. Faithfully recreating the iconic 1958 championship winning car with six 100% accurate and authentic continuation cars is a fitting tribute to their historic success. The DNA that made those cars so successful also serves as an inspiring foundation for the future of the Vanwall marque, which I look forward to sharing in due course.”

Sanderson is a former world champion offshore powerboat racer, as well as being an early pioneer in electric vehicles when he commissioned the Lightning GT electric supercar in 2008.

Andrew Garner, Chairman of Vanwall Group and a former Chairman of the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, concluded, “I can still remember watching the Vanwalls at Aintree in ’57 when I was a boy and had the pleasure of sitting in one at Goodwood. I drove at all the major circuits in a Cooper T51 for many wonderful years but the Vanwall is the car I coveted. These cars will be fully race eligible and in the right hands will be unbeatable, repeating Tony Vandervell’s mission to beat the red cars!”

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