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Two legendary marques – One remarkable pen! The link between Vanwall and Conway Stewart

5 minute read 📖

Recently, you may have noticed the release of a new pen by Conway Stewart with, perhaps, an unfamiliar name – The Vanwall Pen – and wondered why it has been singled out for praise by so many pen collectors around the world.

So first let me give you some background to the name and why it was chosen to join other ‘special edition’ Conway Stewart pens.

Pioneers of speed

Let’s travel back to the 1950s – to a time when many countries were coming to terms with the economics of post-World War 2 rebuilding. There was, nevertheless, a degree of optimism. Industries which had been forced by war to become more efficient were quickly developing new ideas in areas like engineering, materials technologies and jet propulsion. Whether on land, sea or in the air, the need for speed was paramount and before long, a new breed of entrepreneurs became the pioneers of these new technologies.

The UK already had a history of pushing the boundaries of speed. People like Sir Henry Seagrave with ‘Golden Arrow’, John Cobb with his ‘Railton Special’ and Malcolm Campbell with ‘Bluebird’ were already recognised globally as land-speed pioneers and had sown the seeds of ambition for the British motor racing industry. 

Tony Vandervell was one of many British engineers who had a vision for the future which was based on speed. Having raced both motorcycles and cars in his younger days, soon after the end of World War 2 he acquired a Ferrari 125 which was better set up by his engineers and competed as the ‘Thinwall Special’, named after his core manufacturing business known as ‘Thinwall Bearings’.

Recognising the long-term implications of developing  motor engines built for speed, Vandervell set about creating a team that would be capable of designing and running its own Formula 1 cars. By 1954 he was ready and the Vanwall Special (Vanwall being an amalgamation of his own name and that of his Thinwall Bearings company) was entered for its first race in distinctive British racing green livery and a  bright yellow nose-cone.

“A Churchill among British industrialists”

It was hard work, with little initial success. However, Vandervell was determined to make it work and as the motoring press of the day said ‘He is a Churchill among British industrialists. Ruthless, restless, often irascible, a great patriot and a fine, intuitive engineer.’ He also had an ability to spot new driving talent and was also constantly honing the engine and body shape to give it greater advantage on the race track over the Italian Maseratis and Ferraris which were dominating Formula 1. In those early years, Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorne and Ken Wharton drove for the Vanwall team and were superseded by Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks for the 1957 Formula 1 season in which Moss won Vanwall’s first World Championship race in the British Grand Prix at Aintree, Liverpool.

Brooks and Moss share the victory at the end of the 1957 British Grand Prix

Brooks and Moss share the victory at the end of the 1957 British Grand Prix

In 1958 Vandervell had his eyes on a bigger prize – the International Cup for Manufacturers (now called the F1 Constructors’ Championship) which had recently been announced by the race organisers. With a much-improved car and a contracted team of 3 British drivers (Moss, Brooks and Lewis-Evans) the Vanwall team were in a great position – and finally delivered! Although Stirling Moss was pipped to the drivers’ Championship, only by one point by Mike Hawthorn, now driving for Ferrari, the Vanwall team victory was assured. The 1958 Vanwall was arguably the most important race-car ever created in Britain. Packed with innovation it featured a space-frame chassis by Colin Chapman and aerodynamics by Frank Costin, while the engine was based on a Rolls-Royce block mated to a Manx Norton motorbike inspired cylinder head. Of course, all inexorably driven on by the mercurial Vandervell.

Forever, the first winner of the F1 Constructors Championship

As the first winner of the FI Constructors Championship, Vanwall was in prime position to push on. However, Vandervell was not in good health and had been hugely upset by the death of one of his drivers, Stuart Lewis-Evans following a crash at the Moroccan Grand Prix. Sadly, Vandervell’s health rapidly deteriorated and in January 1959, a news release announced that the much-loved British Vanwall team was withdrawing from all competitions. The 1958 Constructors’ Championship was to be the first and last for the Vanwall team.

The story of Vanwall is one of vision, drive, energy, determination, engineering excellence - and brilliant drivers. In just a few years, Vandervell and his Vanwall team had had a profound impact on British motor racing. The starting grid front rows which were once dominated by the red of Italian Ferraris and Maseratis were now predominantly British racing green. What’s more, you only have to look at the starting grid of any current-day F1 race to see the impact those early years had on British motor racing with the majority of Formula 1 teams since being based in Britain.

This new Conway Stewart Vanwall Pen celebrates and honours the famous Vanwall Formula 1 racing team.

If you are looking for a pen with a story... A pen that has character in abundance… A pen that will give you years of tireless service, The Vanwall Pen has it all! Whether it is for yourself or for a friend or relation, here is a pen that is instantly respected and admired. Made from a beautiful marbled green acrylic that has been used by Conway Stewart for many of its top-end pens for decades, it subtly changes colour from dark green to black to iridescent olive green as you turn it in your hand. 

Each pen is engraved on the barrel with the Vanwall logo together with ‘Made in Great Britain’ reflecting the origin of the pen and of Vanwall racing cars. 

We have fitted the Vanwall Pen with 9ct gold fittings – a narrow gold ring on the barrel end, and a wider cap band which has the edition number of the pen laser engraved into the gold. This wider cap band is also stamped with English hallmarks confirming the quality and purity of the gold. 

As you unscrew the cap of the Conway Stewart Vanwall Pen, you will notice a yellow band around the barrel to reflect the heritage of the green Vanwall cars with their distinctive yellow nose cones.

Presented in a luxury green leather box

Each Conway Stewart Vanwall Pen comes in a luxury green leather box which includes a booklet on the fascinating history of Vanwall, a pen polishing cloth, a user manual, and a bottle of British Made green ink to rev up your Vanwall pen!

The Conway Stewart Vanwall Pen holds true to the classic styling that has made Conway Stewart famous for over 100 years. Yet it has a freshness that makes it a joy for you to hold and use. At 54 grams it’s not a small pen but the slightly tapered shape makes it very comfortable in the hand. And when you come to putting ink on paper the best Conway Stewart fountain pen's18ct gold nib is pure writing perfection. You have a choice of Extra Fine, Fine, Medium or Broad nibs to suit your personal writing style.

Unscrew the blind end of the barrel and you’ll discover the gold-plated knurled top of the twist filler which is used to fill the pen with ink - a beautifully engineered feature in keeping with the technical perfection of the Vanwall.

Only 270 Conway Stewart Vanwall pens will be made, each one accompanied by a signed Certificate of Authenticity confirming its edition number. It’s the perfect reminder of one of the greatest stories in British motor-racing history!

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