The Woodcote Cup

Maserati, BRM, Vanwall, Thin Wall, klemcoll, Goodwood

This photograph has alway been a favorite of ours. It shows the front row of the grid accelerating away at the start with four different cars, the starter standing on his podium just behind the 5 minute sign. This race was part of a meeting at Goodwood on September 25, 1954 and was a 10-lap Formula Libre affair that brought together a wide range of cars, 15 in all.

On the far side of the grid, on pole, is Stirling Moss with his works-entered Maserati 250F which carries his favorite number 7 on its tail. Next to Moss is the BRM P30 Mk. 2 of Ken Wharton, already using its considerable power. In car n. 8, the new and not fully tested Vanwall, is the familiar figure of Mike Hawthorn who has allowed his “Mate” Peter Collins to take his usual seat in the rather faster Thin Wall Special which was now nearing the end of its useful competitive life.

Wharton held the initial lead until Collins caught him. A second BRM Mk 2 driven by Ron Flockhart which started in the back went off on the first lap and retired. But Wharton held on to second while Moss and Hawthorn ran together to dispute third which went to the Maserati. Collins displayed again his coming talent by holding on to a six second lead over Wharton at the flag.

The Thin Wall had been built up by Tony Vandervell a couple of years earlier during the world championship F2 years as a Formula Libre machine to challenge any older F1 cars still around, including the BRMs. Its name reflected Vandervell’s bearing products design innovation which had transformed modern auto engines. To create the Thin Wall Special Vandervell used some bits supplied by Ferrari including a rather old Grand Prix chassis and a 4.5 liter Ferrari 375F1 motor. When parts broke Vandervell made his own replacements, both for the engine and rear suspension, and also produced the body. In its day it was indeed fast and quite capable of beating a BRM as Collins did twice at Goodwood in 1954. With the coming new Vanwall F1 cars, the Thin Wall was pushed aside in the Vanwall factory at the end of 1954. Many years later it would be restored and still makes an occasional historic exhibition appearance.

Photo by Alan R. Smith ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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One comment

  1. My Dad, Edward V. P Swain was a toolmaker at CAVandervell after WW2, at Acton, London, and made for me aged 14(1955)replacement bearings, trunnions and similar for the MG F type Magna, and later for my MG TA 1937 restoration work. So fabulous to have a Dad who took engineering interest in his sons passion and formula one enthusiasm!! Thanks Dad!


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