On 1 May 1955, Stirling Moss won the 22nd Mille Miglia in just over 10 hours and at an average speed of 98mph

On a blazing Sunday afternoon in 1955, Stirling Moss won what some would describe as the greatest victory in his long motorsport career.

After 993 miles at an average speed of 98mph, Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson won the 22nd Mille Miglia in a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR.

Their astonishing performance ran over three pages in the following week’s issue of Autocar, with our correspondent following Moss and Jenkinson over the gruelling two-day event.

Describing the winning 10-hour timeframe in which Moss finished the race, the report states: “Imagine having an early breakfast and leaving London by car at about 7.15am, reaching Aberdeen by lunchtime, and getting back to London in time for a latish tea – with only two stops.

“That, on roads that are admittedly better than British roads, parallels the achievement of Stirling Moss."

At times, Moss’s 300SLR was reaching speeds of up to 170mph on the straights. The straight-eight, 3.0-litre 300SLRs driven by the Mercedes-Benz factory team – which also included Moss’s rival, Juan Manuel Fangio – differed only slightly from their grand prix racing counterparts.

As the total field of 648 cars lined up in Brescia for the start – although only 533 would actually begin the race - our correspondent noted: “Hot sunshine beat down on to the Piazza Vittoria for several days before the race and as each day went by, the big crowds that assembled early in the morning swelled until, by late afternoon, the whole square was packed with excited Italians.

“Although the first car was flagged away at 9pm, it was morning before, at one-minute intervals, the big cars set off to overhaul them.”

As the racing pack sped out into the Italian countryside, taking in sleepy rural towns as well as tourist centres such as Bologna, Florence and Rome, almost every visitor’s ear was drawn to the race.

“Throughout the race every Italian-owned television set and radio is tuned to the event, and the latest news of the leading cars is exchanged in the street between stangers, excitedly passed on to customers by restaurant waiters, and vigorously debated in almost every public place.”

As the pack headed closer to the finishing line at Brescia, the crowds waited for news of Moss and Jenkinson, with their progress reported over loadspeakers.

“Then suddenly the bedlam of the exhaust was mingling with the swelling volume of cheers and a British driver, even if in a German car, hurtled over the line first, and for the first time, in a race in which the non-Italian must drive against an almost insuperable handicap," stated our report.

“The 1955 Mille Miglia had been won. Myths had been exploded, records shattered. For once, and deservedly, fortune had smiled on Stirling Moss.”

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Dallara Stradale
    The Stradale is the first road-legel car from Italian motorsport constructor Dallara
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    The motorsport constructor's first road car is inspired by Lotus minimalism. Does it thrill on road and track?
  • Hyundai i30 N
    Standard spec is good so paint colour is our car’s only option
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    What’s Hyundai’s first hot hatch and N-brand debutant really like? Let’s find out
  • Porsche Boxster GTS
    This is the new GTS version of the Porsche Boxster
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The 718-generation Boxster is our favourite roadster of the moment – so is this new GTS variant worth the extra outlay?
  • BMW 5 Series
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The BMW 5 Series is top of the mid-exec pack, but is there still room for a diesel saloon in everyday family life?
  • Audi A7 front
    First Drive
    14 March 2018
    The new Audi A7 Sportback looks the part, but how does the new Mercedes-Benz CLS rival cope on UK roads? We find out