The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
For a passionate recolection of the ex-Gerry Marshall Firenza on PISTON HEADS click this link...
`Baby Bertha` Vauxhall Firenza 5.7
DRIVER : JOE WARD from Spalding
CAR : VAUXHALL FIRENZA
ENGINE : CHEVROLET V8 350 ci ( 5736 cc )
CLASS : B NUMBER : 61
SERIES RECORD : 13 STARTS - 1 OUTRIGHT WIN -
5 CLASS WINS - 3 FASTEST LAPS -
1 POLE POSITION
CAR HISTORY :
Gerry Marshall was already a top driver in Special Saloons for Bill Blydenstein`s team with backing from Dealer Team Vauxhall. When Marshall crashed in the `Big Bertha` Ventora in 1974 in the first season of `Super Saloons` the car was written off and a replacement had to be built. The 5 litre Repco-Holden V8 was salvaged with other components for a new car dubbed `Baby Bertha`using a Firenza body-shell with a wide aerodynamic body.
Competion Manager Gerry Johnstone and his team built the car in just 11 weeks and made its debut in may 1975 , winning 18 out of its 20 races that first season.
With Marshall driving the car stormed to the 1975 + 1976 Tricentrol Super Saloons titles in spectacular style. The car and its driver became synomynous , an all time great
`Car` Magazine tested Baby Bertha`s performance and recorded a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds , 0-100 in 7.8 , 0-120 in 12 , comparable with the top exotic supercars of
the day. Marshall set lap records across the country including a 113 mph lap of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in 1976 ( 1 min 20.4 ). At the time the car was producing 476 bhp and weighed 1018 kgs.
In October 1977 Baby Bertha was sold as DTV moved on to other things , mainly Rallying the new Chevette. Paul
Haywood Halfpenny was the new owner and raced her in 1978 with a black livery but without success. Later Phil Barak raced her in a blue livery and perhaps forgotten, with a Shell oils livery won Class A and 3rd overall in the 1983 BRSCC Northern GT Challenge.The Geordie driver also appeared in the Donington GT in the over 2-litre class but couldnt match the new breed of GT clone racers.After that the car slipped into quiet retirement.
Marshall however reacquired the car for a time and the car was sold on to its current owner Joe Ward who raced GM products in Thundersaloons. By 1999 when the car was featured in both CCC Magazine and `Classic + Sports car` it had a 5.7 litre Chevy V8 fitted rated around 400 bhp.
After a few public appearances over the years , like at Goodwood and the Chalmondeley Pageant the car was the ideal iconic racer to lead the revival of the Special Saloons Series which piloted in 2011 and began in 2012.
Baby Bertha still has the presence to impress , reving memories of the late,great Gerry Marshall and the old girl is a credit to its owner / driver Joe Ward.