28 Apr A Special Unveiling for a Very Special Car: Saturday, May 6
Of course, all of our cars are special, but extraordinary cars call for extraordinary measures. Museum Founder Gunther Buerman will do the honors of unveiling our 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Mille Miglia Recreation on Saturday, May 6 between 11 a.m. and noon, when the Gull Wing International Club will be visiting. All Mercedes owners are encouraged to come on this day, too! Drive your Mercedes to the Museum and show us your key at the front door for $4 off a regular adult ticket of $20. (The discount will be honored during Museum hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
But back to the car and why it’s special. It was built to pay homage to the original car in which Mercedes team driver Stirling Moss broke the record in the 1955 Mille Miglia that still stands today: 990 miles in 10 hours, 7 minutes, 48 seconds for an average speed of 97.96 mph. Only seven of these convertible race cars were originally built, and the designer turned two of them into coupes, one of which recently sold for a world record price of $143,000,000.
The development of the 300 SLR race car was heavily influenced by both the Mercedes 300 SL that, with its striking gullwing doors, first raced in the Mille Miglia in 1952 and a road-going version that made its debut in February 1954. It was this famous model that provided the basic concept for the new racer, which featured a lightweight yet high-strength tubular steel frame supporting an aluminum/magnesium body derived from the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 cars. The hugely powerful straight 8 engine was mounted longitudinally in the front section of the car at an angle of 33 degrees and produced 310 hp at 7400 rpm.
The 300 SLR went on to become the most successful racing sports car in 1955, with not only Stirling Moss setting the Mille Miglia record but also teammate Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes finishing second in a sister car. The 300 SLRs scored additional 1-2-3 world championship finishes at the Tourist Trophy in Ireland and 1-2 finishes at the Targa Florio in Sicily, earning Mercedes the 1955 World Sportscar Championship. It was retired after that season as a result of the horrendous crash of a 300 SLR at the 24 hours of Le Mans, which killed 85 people.
The Mille Miglia liveried 300 SLR on display here at the Newport Car Museum is a Mercedes-Benz authorized recreation made in Argentina by former Formula 1 driver Scuderia Bucci who raced alongside Fangio, Ascari and other greats from that era. The number 722 on this car is the start time of Stirling Moss’s unbroken record in the 1955 Mille Miglia.