VANWALL: “BEAT THOSE BLOODY RED CARS!”
Tony Vandervell couldn’t quite give it up,
and in 1960 re-signed from Ferrari a
“thrilled” Brooks: “I signed to drive a
rear-engine Vanwall: a beefed-up, properly
engineered Lotus 18 with a Vanwall engine
more powerful than the Climax motors
that the other British teams were using.”
Brooks, who drove a lightened but
uncompetitive interim “teardrop” car at
Goodwood’s Easter meeting while Innes
Ireland’s Lotus 18 ushered in a new era,
had to wait until July’s French Grand Prix
at Reims for Vanwall’s response: low-line
and well made – but still front-engined.
Dismayed, but duty-bound, he qualified
only one tenth faster than in ’58: “There
had been advances made and I thought
Tony had seen the light. It perhaps would
have been kinder to tell him he was wasting
his time, but I had a good relationship
with him and didn’t want to spoil it.”
Unsettled by an untraceable vibration,
Brooks retired the “Lowline” after a
handful of laps and it never raced again.
And the Lotus-Vanwall? Entered at
implementation of 1.5-liter Formula 1.
“The design was largely taken from
the Lotus, substantially remodelled and
strengthened,” said Surtees. “The
engine, enlarged to 2. 6 liters, was slightly
heavier than a Climax, but it wasn’t a
heavy car. It was distinctive. A Vanwall.”
Starting eighth after a troubled
practice, it excelled in the wet early
stages, passing Stirling Moss’s Cooper for
third on the fifth lap, which promptly
became second when Bruce McLaren
crashed his Cooper. A spin at Abbey on lap
13 (of 80), however, cost Surtees several
places: “That was my fault, but the power
characteristics didn’t help; it just wasn’t
as smooth and user-friendly as a Climax.”
After a long pit stop, he finished fifth:
“An unproven car against perfected
machines; I think it was pretty impressive.
That little department at Vanwall producing
something this good, it makes you wonder.”
But Vandervell, once so focused, was
now dabbling. His racing involvement had
begun as a hobby and now ended as such.
Vanwall did finally make a rear-engined racecar, and it wasn’t bad, as its one-off appearance showed.
Snetterton’s Lombank Trophy in September,
an engine valve problem caused it to DNS.
Vanwall built its rear-engine car finally
in 1961 – and it, too, raced just once.
Nicknamed “The Whale,” it was driven by
John Surtees in May’s Silverstone round
of the Inter-Continental Formula,
Britain’s ultimately futile response to the
Vanwall’s rear-engine Inter-Continental
Formula machine (LEFT, with John
Surtees at the wheel) showed
promise in a one-off appearance in
Tony Vandervell’s racing passion.
1960’s “Lowline” Vanwall, courtesy of a
Colotti gearbox and rear end, was too little,
too late. Front-engined cars were obsolete.
BUILDING A BETTER DINOSAUR