The Good Oil: Time’s up for iconic Mercedes racer
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Stirling Moss called the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “the finest sports car ever built”. Well, of course he did: the car took him to a legendary victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia road race from Brescia to Rome return in 1955: he and navigator Denis Jenkinson averaged a then-incredible and still-incredible 158km/h over the 1598km route.
Moss passed away on 12 April 2020 at the age of 90. But Mercedes-Benz Classic also gave his iconic 300 SLR a cinematic send-off late last year, before it went home to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart following a round of promotional appearances including the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the British Grand Prix and the Goodwood Revival.
A short film entitled The Last Blast tracks the car through central London early on a Sunday morning. The starting point is The Temple. It then takes in the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, the Royal Automobile Club and the The Ritz hotel.
On the way, the “722” 300 SLR passes what was Sir Stirling’s very own 300 SL Gullwing – the car in which he travelled from London to drive the Mille Miglia in 1955. The SLR’s drive through the city ends in front of Moss’s famously high-tech home in a Mayfair mews.
There, his son, Elliot Moss, stands in front of the door and looks at the watch on his wrist, which his father wore for many years.
It’s exactly 7:22 am, the original start time of Moss and Jenkinson’s Mille Miglia entry and the reason for the car’s racing number. The 300 SLR rolls to a halt one final time, and its engine is switched off.
Contrived? Of course. But kind of cool all the same, especially when an apocryphal story or two is worked in.
The legend goes that Moss was once pulled over by a police officer after a “daring” overtake through London. “Who do you think you are? Stirling Moss?” said the officer.
In the film, a police motorcycle outrider admonishes the over-enthusiastic driver of the SLR. As the camera zooms in on the front wing of the bike, we see a sticker bearing the famous question.
The film involved 50 cast and crew, eight motorcycle police as escorts and special permits for trucks to enter London. The helicopter shots are by a team known for their work on James Bond movies - and a pass under Tower Bridge for the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony film.