Stirling Moss was, without a doubt, one of the finest racing drivers the world has ever seen. Sometimes described as the greatest driver never to win the Formula 1 world championship, the legendary Englishman finished as F1 runner up four times, made third place three times, and won 212 of the 529 races he ever entered across various categories.
One of his most famous victories came in 1955, when he completed what many still call the single greatest day of driving in motorsport history and won the Mille Miglia. The car that he used to win Italy’s thousand-mile road race also became a legend. A legend that has now been allowed one last drive across Sir Stirling’s old hometown before it will be retired forever.
Few classic race cars are more famous and iconic than the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “722.” The open-top speed machine, named after the 7:22am original starting time of Moss and his co-driver Denis Jenkinson in the 1955 Mille Miglia, is truly priceless and seldom seen in public. It certainly has never been driven along the streets of London, the city Moss called home for more than 60 years. That is, it has never been driven there until now. In a celebration of Sir Stirling’s life, Mercedes recently arranged for the famous car to have one last blast through the city its original driver loved so much.
The result is a three-and-a-half-minute long clip that celebrates this straight-eight-powered beast of a motor and the amazing achievements of the man who once managed to pilot it from Brescia to Rome and back in a mere 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds. The two occupants of the Silver Arrow—Moss at the wheel and Jenkinson reading the pace notes—achieved an average speed of 160km/h along the 1,597km long route during this run, which is more than a little impressive if you consider that the race took place on public roads. If the event was run around here, it would be like doing Vigan (Ilocos Sur) to Naga (Camarines Sur) and back in one day and at race speed.
Back in 1955, Moss finished half an hour ahead of Juan Manuel Fangio and set a time for the race that has never been beaten. Also starring in the video (shot at the end of September this year) is Moss’ son, seen welcoming the car at the family’s London home at the end, and the racing driver’s personal ride, a 300 SL Gullwing. Moss, the only British driver to ever win the race, called the 300 SLR he piloted on the day the finest sports car ever made and the clip even includes a little nod to a famous story that may or may not have really happened. Legend has it that he was stopped by police while driving a bit too daringly across London many years ago. The officer walked over to his car and asked him “Who do you think you are? Stirling Moss?” “Yes, sir. I am!” was the reply. Or at least so they say.
Not only is the video that Mercedes created a lovely tribute to the driver and the car, but it also gives us some amazing footage and a number of great pictures that will likely never be recreated in real life again. Filmed during one Sunday morning and with the help of multiple police outriders, the 300 SLR looks right at home in London and sounds simply epic. The car is now back at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, where it takes pride of place among many other legendary machines.