New Vanwall Le Mans Hypercar Faces Legal Rights Hurdle Over Name

ByKolles might not control the rights to the "Vanwall" name for its new Le Mans racer

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Photo: ByKolles

In the flurry of announcements revealing new sportscar prototype programs, I was surprised to see the name “Vanwall” among manufacturers like Peugeot and Porsche. Vanwall was a 1950s British racing car manufacturer that also competed in Formula One and won the inaugural World Constructors’ Championship in 1958. Though, Vanwall ceased operations in 1961.

The British company hasn’t been lying in wait for the past 60 years. A notable figure currently in motorsport has decided to revive the brand, Colin Kolles. The former Formula 1 team principal moved into sportscar team ownership after leaving Force India in 2008. Initially, his team entered ex-factory Audi R10 TDIs into the 2009 Le Mans Series season and that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The ByKolles team might have not finished Le Mans since its first visit in 2009, but the team has remained a fixture at the French endurance classic. ByKolles have entered their own LMP1 chassis powered by Nismo three-liter turbocharged V6 engine in recent seasons. However, ByKolles decided not to race during the 2021 season as it developed its Le Mans Hypercar for the new class.


Earlier this week, the German-based team unveiled its hypercar decked out In British Racing Green and Vanwall plastered on its sidepods for a shakedown at Zweibrücken Airport in Germany. While ByKolles have had difficulties securing a place on the FIA World Endurance Championship grid with series, there is a bigger hurdle in front of them.


Allegedly, ByKolles don’t have the right to use the Vanwall name and are facing legal action from a group based in Britain. The Vanwall name is currently being licensed out to a revival project producing cars in the style of 1950s Vanwall F1 racers. The European Union Intellectual Property Office will decide the dispute, and if ByKolles lose, it won’t be able to race under the Vanwall name in Europe.