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Big-Bertha-Motor-magazine

WINTER 1973-74

DTV had the winter to promote the new car and indeed it gained alot of attention. They were glad of the off season to prepare the car for its completion was delayed by industrial action at Vauxhall ,in particular the lack of suitable driveshaft.
This meant for the UK Motor Show and Hilton Hotel presentations the car was strictly a static display. This continued for photo shoots for the major car magazines and publicity shots,the car having to be pushed into place. The Castrol GTX ones with 5 topless models adorning / adoring the car look VERY `70s now. It shouldnt be underestimated though the overall positivity for the forthcoming supersaloon series all this publicity gave.
Big Bertha eventually hit the tracks in the new year and testing was not without disappointment either due to rear suspension problems.
As you can see from this early track shot the final race spec had more cooling for that big engine via the inside headlamps and vents in that bonnet scoop.
Gerry Marshall`s reaction to the new car was quite favourable despite heavy steering and too much of the power high up the rev range for his liking. He did like the `very very good`road holding and the stability of the car.

'Big Bertha' race-by-race

Bertha debut

RACE ONE :

Date: MARCH 31st 1974
Venue : SILVERSTONE Club
Race : BRSCC SIMONIZ SPECIAL SALOONS
Driver : GERRY MARSHALL ( #104 )
Qualifying : POLE
Result : 1st OVERALL
Fastest Lap : 58.2 seconds ( 99.46 mph )
a new record beating Mick Hill`s old time by 0.2
Description : Fantastic start to the new cars career. Driver Gerry Marshall was pushed all the way to the chequered flag by Tony Strawson in the Capri. `It was really hard work`he said afterwards referring not just holding onto 1st but the heavy steering and taming the beast.
After all the publicity hype and troubles behind the scenes the driver and car had delivered first time out.

Bertha
B BERTHA SNETT 74

RACE TWO :

Date: APRIL 14th 1974
Venue : SNETTERTON
Race : BRSCC TRICENTROL SUPER SALOONS
Driver : GERRY MARSHALL ( #10 )
Qualifying : joint POLE with Hill 1min 9.0
Result : DNF front suspension.
Fastest Lap : no. ( set by Hill 1min 7.6 record ) Description : Having undergone some mods the car was only fininished the night before for this easter sunday first round of the Supersaloon series.
Marshall set pole along with Mick Hill in his second Capri ,the meeting being the first big championship event on the new 1.9-mile version of the circuit.Big Bertha led for the first 5 laps but then the front suspension collapsed without too much drama but opened the way for Hill and Tony Strawson ( in Hill`s 1st Capri ) to take over. Hill winning by just under 5 seconds.
The damaged car meant the team had to return to base and miss round 2 the following day at Mallory Park.

BigBertha

RACE THREE :

Date: MAY 27th 1974
Venue : THRUXTON
Race : BARC FORWARD TRUST SPECIAL SALOONS
Driver : GERRY MARSHALL ( #1 )
Qualifying : 2nd ( Hill on pole )
Result : DNF loose seat
Fastest Lap : no. ( set by Dryden 1min 25.6 ) Description : Since the Snetterton race Marshall had reverted back to the 'Old Nail' Vauxhall Firenza for 3 races winning twice. A return with Big Bertha proved frustrating again as his seat adjustment broke and its driver ending up sat further back in the car than was practical to continue.
Marshall had a busy bank holiday monday having already come second in a wildly contested Vauxhall race and competed in a Castrol Group 1 saloon race.

BBERTHA3

PHOTO BY LINDSAY ARCHIVE

RACE FOUR :

Date: JUNE 9th 1974
Venue : SILVERSTONE CLUB
Race : SIMONIZ SPECIAL SALOONS
Driver : GERRY MARSHALL ( #45 )
Qualifying : set pole
Result : 1st overall
Fastest Lap : no. ( set by Hill 1min 09.2 ) Description : Most of the big names were present again buit the race was spoilt by rain effecting the performances of Strawson and Hill, who rcovered from a spin to take 2nd. Also in the race were Sugden,Hawker and Whiting. However up front Gerry Marshall 'pulled away driving the beast with typical verve holding great twitches in front of the pits' to win by 10 seconds.

74MarshallJune23rd

PHOTO BY RICH HARMAN

RACE FIVE :

Date: JUNE 23rd 1974
Venue : MALLORY PARK
Race : SIMONIZ SPECIAL SALOONS
Driver : GERRY MARSHALL ( #55 )
Qualifying : not known
Result : 1st overall
Fastest Lap : yes. ( 50.4 secs - 96.43mph ) Description : Marshall was still rotating between Big Bertha and Old Nail and the week before had won his 50th race in Nail in the previous Simoniz round.
This was Bertha`s only race at Mallory as Nail had probably been considered more nimble for the shorter track in previous rounds. Despite another good entry Marshall hustled the big car to victory all the same despite breaking the exhaust from the car bottoming out. Hawker followed 4.6 seconds behind from Sugden and Hazelwood.

Sstone74

RACE SIX :

Date: AUGUST 4th 1974
Venue : SILVERSTONE Club
Race : SILVERSTONE SUPERSALOON TROPHY
Driver : GERRY MARSHALL ( #1 )
Qualifying : 3rd ( Peter Kitchen Mini on pole )
Result : DNF
Fastest Lap : no. ( Frank Gardner 1min 5.6 )
Description : A potentially great 25-lap Supersaloon event was ruined by heavy rain throughout . With Bertha having not raced for 6 weeks Marshall found his new engine to be misfiring but qualified 3rd. Peter Kitchen was the suprise pole man in his Mini due to the wet weather.
Again the entry was top class with Hill ,Turner ,Hawker ,Niven ,Whiting and the G2 big bangers Frank Gardner and David Howes. Gardner and Marshall diced for the lead until lap 4 when coming into Woodcote 'the friction pad broke away from the backing plate, the car turned left into the armco and everyone`s favourite Vauxhall was a sorry mess' wrote Bob Constanduros for Autosport.
Gardner went on to win the £200 1st prize from Howes who had started from the back.

what happened next...

0joe ward baby bertha 2

Firstly Gerry wasnt hurt in the accident but the car was badly damaged. Perhaps suprisingly no photo of the damaged car seems to have gone into the public domain or been published as far as I can tell. What happened next was the team had assessed the damage and weighed up their options and decided not to rebuild Big Bertha but to start again with a new car. What happened after that was as they say history...for the resulting phoenix car from the wreckage became the most famous Supersaloon of them all , Baby Bertha !

The DTV team went for the same mechanicals but in a more compact package and chose the Firenza coupe as the basis. The resulting finished product would be some 356kgs lighter but with the same engine and with Gerry Marshall at the wheel the combination were almost unbeatable.
Baby Bertha would make its debut the following May so in the interim Marshall again reverted to using Old Nail and the old car raced in 5 more Simoniz special saloon rounds which took Marshall to the outright championship title and gave him a foothold in the 1975 campaigns too.
So a positive came from a negative and all things considered I believe most supersaloon enthusiasts are grateful for Big Berth`s demise because of what came out of it.

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