Saturday 17th July 1954
The Vanwall Special made its debut at the 1954 British Grand Prix at Silverstone in the hands of Britain’s Peter Collins. The chassis was designed by Owen Maddock and built by the Cooper Car Company. The 2.0 L engine was designed by Norton engineer Leo Kuzmicki, and was essentially four Man] single-cylinder 498 cc (30.4 cu in) (86.1 mm × 85.6 mm (3.39 in × 3.37 in)) engines with a common waterjacket, cylinder head (a copy of the Norton’s) and valvetrain, with induction by four AMAL motorcycle carburetors. This combination was fitted to a Rolls-Royce “B”-engine crankcase, copied in aluminium. Designed for Formula Two, which was supplanted before it appeared, the car debuted in a Grande Epreuve in the 1954 British Grand Prix. Against 2½ litre Formula One competition, it was at a decided disadvantage. The Goodyear disc brakes (built by Vanwall) proved successful, but the front suspension and fuel and cooling systems were troublesome. Development continued with a switch to Bosch fuel injection (thanks to Vandervell’s “persuading” Daimler-Benz, a major Bosch customer, to allow it), while retaining the AMAL throttle bodies; they were plagued with throttle linkage trouble, due to vibration from the big four-cylinder. Vanwall also increased the capacity of the engines, first to 2,237 cc (137 cu in) (91.0 mm × 86.0 mm (3.58 in × 3.39 in)) for Peter Collins at Monaco 1955, and then a full 2,489 cc (151.9 cu in) (96.0 mm × 86.0 mm (3.78 in × 3.39 in)). Vanwalls then ran for a season in F1 without much in the way of success. At the end of the 1955 season, it was plain that the engine was sound, but that the Ferrari-derived chassis needed improvement. It was suggested to Vandervell that he should hire the services of a young up-and-coming designer to improve their cars. The designer was Colin Chapman.