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DTV Vauxhall Firenza Magnum heads to auction

Published 18 February 2016

One of the most famous Vauxhall’s to compete in the world of motorsport is going under the hammer at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting on 20 March. The Dealer Team Vauxhall (DTV) Firenza Magnum was once driven by Gerry Marshall and is estimated to fetch between £80,000 and £120,000 at the Bonhams auction.

It started its motorsport career in 1977 when it finished second overall and first in class at the Spa 24 Hours race to secure one of the marque's most significant results of the modern era. Driven by saloon-car racing legends Peter Brock and Gerry Marshall, the Magnum also won the prestigious 'Coupe du Roi' team prize and the 'Index of Performance' against more powerful 3.0-litre opposition.

The Firenza Magnum had been specially built by Bill Blydenstein's team at DTV for the 1977 Spa race. The 'Spa Magnum' was prepared by team manager Gerry Johnstone and the crew at DTV to Group 1 specifications, which limited the permitted modifications.

Despite being built using standard body panels, the car was below the permitted weight limit, necessitating the addition of some lead. Brock and Marshall eventually finished second overall.

DTV Vauxhall (7)

In the 24 hours, the 'Spa Magnum' had covered 2414 miles, averaging more than 100mph. Although sold by DTV to Alan Foster's London Sportscar Company/Chequered Flag at the end of 1977, the Vauxhall continued its racing career. In 1978 it was raced by Foster and Win Percy in the Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, by Jock Robertson at Spa, and also by Barrie Williams and Tony Lanfranchi, who managed to roll it at Silverstone's Abbey Curve.

In 2005, the 'Spa Magnum' resurfaced at the auction held at Autosport International, where it was purchased by VSCC competitor Adrian Goding. Apparently, it had spent the preceding 15 years in a barn. Bugatti specialist Ivan Dutton was able to confirm the car's identity when told that the rear corner of the roof was full of filler - a legacy of the Lanfranchi crash.

The Firenza needed fresh steel in the roof and repairs to the rear end, which had been damaged in another racing incident. Restoring the bodyshell took 363 man-hours during the 55-week rebuild.

SRG Motorsport took the body back to bare metal. Removal of the roundel and original stickers revealed the original DTV livery beneath. Gerry Marshall was consulted and confirmed this was the production car prepared to Group 1 specification, which he and Peter Brock drove at Spa.

DTV Vauxhall (1)

Martin Thomas, SRG Motorsport's boss, sought original builder Gerry Johnstone's advice with regard to authenticity. Johnstone identified key features such as the holes for roundel lights in the doors, only fitted for endurance racing, and surmised that the car had subsequently been used for rallying.

Gerry Johnstone completed the car in every detail he could remember, including rebuilding the engine, rewiring the electrics and plumbing in the exhaust system. On twin Weber DCOE 48 carburettors and a relatively mild camshaft, the latter fitted for endurance racing, the 2.3-litre engine produces 172bhp at the rear wheels (204bhp at the flywheel). The gearbox is a five-speed Getrag. The interior boasts Sparco front seats, while the original instruments are supplemented by a Stack array.

When the car returned to the racetrack in February 2006 for the Vintage Sports Car Club's Pomeroy Trophy at Silverstone, it was issued with the same competitor number (56) that it had carried at Spa back in 1977. Driven by Adrian Goding, the Firenza finished second in its class.

Returning to the Pomeroy Trophy in 2007, Adrian took another second in class award, followed by a first in class in 2008. Driven by the current vendor at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July 2012, the 'Spa Magnum' proved quicker up the hill than 'Old Nail'.

DTV Vauxhall (2)

The car was used to advertise the 72nd Members' Meeting at Goodwood in 2014, when the Gerry Marshall Trophy was instigated, and is eligible for racing at the Members' Meeting.

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