The ex-Gerry Marshall, Dealer Team Vauxhall, Forward Trust Special Saloon Car Championship-winning 1971 Vauxhall Firenza Competition Saloon 'Old Nail' Chassis no. WBB506 Engine no. 22001
In April 2005 the motor racing world lost one of its most unforgettable characters when the legendary Gerry Marshall passed away while in the process of testing a Chevrolet Camaro at Silverstone. No one who saw him drive will ever forget the experience, for although like all racing drivers Gerry wanted to win, he always did it in flamboyant style, hanging the tail out at every opportunity. In a 40-year career that took in all classes from rallying to historic Formula 1, Gerry racked up more than 600 victories, making him the most successful driver ever in British motor sports history. But it was a saloon car racer that Gerry excelled, proving virtually unbeatable during his time with Dealer Team Vauxhall in the 1970s. One of Gerry's most memorable races from this period formed part of the 1980s BBC Television series '100 Great Sporting Moments'. Featuring full-volume commentary by the irrepressible Murray Walker, this epic scrap is the Osram/BARC Trophy race run at Crystal Palace on 11th September 1971, which pitted Gerry in the DTV Viva GT against Martin Thomas (Chevrolet Camaro) and Mike Crabtree (Ford Escort). The trio swap places and paintwork for the entire race before Gerry is narrowly pipped for the win by Mike Crabtree, only for a 10-second jump-start penalty to relegate the Escort driver to 2nd place and elevate Gerry to 1st (Thomas' Camaro had crashed). Gerry had practised 'Old Nail' for the race, lapping 1 second slower than in the Viva, and decided the latter was the better bet. With the Viva now replaced, the focus of the DTV effort switched to the Firenza. Although not designed with competition in mind, the Firenza's 'slant four' engine would be transformed by renowned Vauxhall tuning specialist Bill Blydenstein, who managed to coax around 265bhp out the final 2.6-litre long-stroke derivative. Affectionately known as 'Old Nail', Gerry's first and most successful DTV Firenza the car offered here is one of the most successful racing saloons of its era, as evidenced by the accompanying results summary listing at least 59 overall victories and four class wins between September 1971 and February 1978. During this period 'Old Nail' won the Forward Trust Special Saloon Car Championship in 1972 (overall) and 1973 (over 1,300cc class), the Simoniz Saloon Car Championship in 1974 (over 1,300cc class) and the Scottish Saloon Car Championship in 1975 (over 1,300cc class, with Bill Dryden driving). In 1978 'Old Nail' was presented to Gerry by a grateful Dealer Team Vauxhall and remained in his possession until his death in 2005. Previously on display at the Vauxhall Heritage and Donington Park museums, the Firenza is offered for sale today by the Marshall family and comes with copies of contemporary press cuttings and photographs. Described as in generally good condition, although not run for three years, 'Old Nail' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an historic racing saloon associated with British motor sport's most successful driver, the late Gerry Marshall.