Photos: LAT, Jakob Ebrey, Mick Walker, Steve Jones, John Turner, Jeff Bloxham, Paul Lawrence, Rallysport Media
The King is dead, long live the king. When Gerry Marshall’s DTV Ventora (Big Bertha) was destroyed at Silverstone after a major brake drama, a rebuild was canned and instead Baby Bertha was born using the running gear from the Ventora.
Out came the engine, gearbox, De Dion rear end and wheels and new bodywork was placed atop the running gear.
In 1975, Baby Bertha won 18 of her 23 races with her 5-litre, Repco-holden V8 engine, the car to beat in Super Saloon racing. She had 500bhp and the Frank Costin-inspired car could hit 60mph in 4.2s and 100 in 7.8s.
It was perfect for Marshall: it was fast, loud and spectacular and it was a focal point of British club racing in a golden age.
It was built in 11 weeks and when Marshall first drove it at Snetterton it was five seconds under the lap record, one that he himself had set in the Ventora.
Only a change of heart from Dealer Team Vauxhall could stop her. At the end of 1977, Vauxhall announced that it would stop its circuit racing activities to concentrate on rallying its Chevette, but there was little else for Baby Bertha to win. She had fended off all advances towards her. MJ