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There could have been a Vanwall-badged W12 supercar

Dendrobium's boss has a storied history in the car world. Here's the one that got away

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Nigel Gordon-Stewart has been around the car industry for a long time. He’s now the boss of EV hypercar company Dendrobium, which is planning to launch an 1,800bhp electric hypercar by 2022. He’s worked at Lamborghini, at BMW, and even did a stint with Christian at Koenigsegg.

But in the late Eighties, he could have delivered something quite special indeed…

“We once looked at a project years and years ago to revive the Vanwall name,” he tells TopGear.com. Vanwall, you’ll probably not remember, was a Formula 1 team that ran in the 1950s under the guidance of boss Tony Vandervell.

The team originally ran modified Ferraris before building their own cars from 1954. Vanwall won its first race in 1957, thanks to one Sir Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks, and the following year won the F1 Constructors’ title. The team’s final race was the 1960 French GP, before being wound up the following year.

So, Gordon-Stewart, along with Simon Saunders – boss and founder of Ariel Motors, don’t forget – cooked up a plan to bring this British icon back into the (then) modern world.

“Simon designed the body for a car that was going to be the Vanwall W12,” he tells us. “It was using a W12 engine that was originally developed by Jaguar, that had been rejected by Jaguar, and ended up at Lister. So it was going to end up with a Lister W12 Jaguar engine – a 6.0-litre.

“That’s kind of interesting isn’t it? It was going to be a supercar. And then effectively the investor behind that pulled out at the last minute. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, comes an approach from McLaren asking me if I wanted to come and help them with their little project…”

That ‘little project’ of course, turned out to be the McLaren F1…

Pictured: 1958 Vanwall

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