Driving the Mille Miglia in a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

0
23

Whereas it is not fairly the Hope Diamond of the collector-car world, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL is actually a museum-worthy jewel. It is recognized finest because the Gullwing for its winged doorways, and I might by no means even plopped into one till I went to Italy to drive one within the trendy Mille Miglia. I suppose trendy is an pointless adjective since time journey continues to elude me.

A re-creation of the 1000-mile race held from 1927 to 1957, right now’s Mille Miglia is open solely to automobile fashions that competed within the unique. So, when you have an Austin Healey 100/6 or a Peugeot 403 within the storage, you may apply to enter, but it surely’s a lot simpler to get in when you have the precise Gullwing that completed fifth within the ’55 race. That’d be my journey for the primary day of the race.

1955 mercedesbenz 300sl

Tony QuirogaAutomobile and Driver

1955 mercedesbenz 300sl

Tony QuirogaAutomobile and Driver

When it is not out reliving historical past, this specific SL spends most of its days on the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Piloted by racer and automobile designer John Fitch, this 300SL completed greater than another inventory automobile. That 12 months proved to be an particularly historic 12 months as Sir Stirling Moss gained it by driving at a mean velocity of practically 100 mph in a Mercedes SLR, primarily a 300SL with the powertrain of a interval Formulation 1 automobile.

1955 mercedesbenz 300sl

Tony QuirogaAutomobile and Driver

1955 mercedesbenz 300sl

Tony QuirogaAutomobile and Driver

So what if I solely crested 100 mph a few occasions on the roughly 200-mile route from Brescia within the north to Cervia—Milano Marittima on the Adriatic? My co-driver and navigator, German race-car driver Ellen Lohr, who lit up the German Touring Automobile collection within the ’90s and continues to chase checkered flags right now, goaded me to hammer the 67-year-old SL like one would possibly hammer a Nissan Sentra rental. So I did. 4 gears, 240 horsepower, eight-figure worth, no brakes, a number of visitors, summer season warmth, all towards an Apennine background.

mille miglia 2022   1506 1st leg brescia   milano marittima photographer craig pusey

Craig Pusey Pictures

mille miglia 2022   1606 2nd leg milano marittima   rome photographer craig pusey

Craig Pusey Pictures

The route handed by tiny villages stuffed with locals who turned out to see, hear, and scent historical past. “Give them some revs,” inspired Lohr. This touring present included fleets of Porsche 356s and Jaguar XK120s dicing with Ferraris and Alfa Romeos, plus surprises like three Chryslers: a ’28, a ’29, and a ’53. In all, greater than 350 classic vehicles turned as much as make noise and to make an already stunning place much more stunning.

2022 mille miglia

Tony Quiroga

mille miglia 2022   1406 location brescia photographer craig pusey

Craig Pusey Pictures

This 12 months marked Lohr’s sixth Mille, and he or she expressed some shock that an American might adapt so shortly to the Italian fashion of driving. Each Italian seems to be a pissed off F1 racer, and each journey is a qualifying lap. I undergo the identical delusion of grandeur, so driving aggressively but in addition thoughtfully comes straightforward. Lohr saved the water and wafer cookies inside attain, and her teaching included slapping my forearm every time I might seize the within of the steering wheel to make it simpler to show the unassisted steering. A pair of driving gloves helped, a sentence I by no means thought I might write.

Usually, the classic vehicles loved a police escort, however upon seeing the spherical headlights and numbered meatballs on the hood, Italian drivers moved over to let age and wonder by. After they did not, we might merely rip previous. We pounded by roundabouts, cornering exhausting sufficient to really feel the rear swing axle start to bop. The 300SL appeared to relish it, and confidence grew with each minute. That’s, till it got here time to mash the brake pedal.

I’ve had sore ft from braking exhausting, but it surely often occurs after a few days of lapping throughout our annual Lightning Lap occasion. To cease—no, stopping is just too formidable—to sluggish the SL requires severe leg power. A Gullwing driver by no means skips leg day. The 4 drum brakes are straight out of 1955, however the remainder of the driving expertise is sort of trendy.

As darkness arrived, I switched on the headlights, which painted our path a dim yellow-white. With the boldness born of dehydration, pleasure, and time behind the wheel, I put the hammer down on one notably lengthy autostrada stretch and closed in on our aim. The snarl of the consumption crammed the cabin because the six ripped towards the redline. Ideas of how to do that once more crammed my head. I reasoned that I’ve all the time needed a postwar Lancia, and whereas an Aurelia might be out of attain, an Appia qualifies for the race and can be laugh-out-loud enjoyable.

Totally exhausted from the expertise and lined in a wonderful layer of salt, we arrived on the day’s last cease at about midnight. I might pushed the whole day, and the 67-year-old supercar by no means complained and even hiccuped, and it ran flawlessly. I might have to surrender my seat to another person to get pleasure from Day Two. It wasn’t sufficient. What I obtained quantities to a style of what it is prefer to freebase Italy. I will by no means cease wanting extra.

This content material is created and maintained by a 3rd social gathering, and imported onto this web page to assist customers present their e mail addresses. You could possibly discover extra details about this and comparable content material at piano.io

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here