The 2016 edition of the fearsome Italian Mille Miglia road race kicks off later this week. Obviously the modern incarnation isn’t as fearsome as the original, which ran from 1927 to 1957, bar a period in the 1940s during which motorsport was the last thing on anyone’s mind, and technically it’s not a race these days, either (though try telling that to some of the participants).
Alfa Romeo and Ferrari both owe a large chunk of their reputation to their multiple successes in this gruelling marathon, but one car – and one performance – eclipsed all others. That would be Stirling Moss’s drive in 1955 in the Mercedes 300 SLR, a truly glorious elision of man, machine and the sort of race that no one would dream of running nowadays. As TG.com has previously noted, this is arguably the greatest competitive drive of all time, a mix of superhuman talent and improvisational skill that saw Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson complete the race in 10 hours seven minutes and 48 seconds, at an average speed of 98mph. In 1955. (The British duo finished 32 minutes ahead of second-placed Juan Manuel Fangio, in the other 300 SLR – he did the race without a co-driver…)