When international Grand Prix motor racing resumed following World War Two, the red cars of Italy were the dominant force, and Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati swept all before them. Patriotic industrialist Tony Vandervell – founder of bearing manufacturer Vandervell Products Ltd – resolved to break their stranglehold over the sport with a team of British cars.
Vandervell was originally involved with the BRM project, but soon tired of its inertia and politics. Instead, this Churchillian figure decided to go it alone, first with a series of Ferrari-based Thin Wall Specials, and then with his own Vanwalls from 1954 onwards.
Deploying all of the engineering expertise and industrial might at his disposal, Vandervell pursued his goal with a single-minded devotion and determination, and in 1956 he enlisted a promising young engineer by the name of Colin Chapman – who was already making waves with his own Lotus company – to design a new Vanwall chassis.