Local friend of the SL Market Letter, Peter Stahl, sent us this photo of the 1955 Mille Miglia class winning 300SL 417 driven by John Fitch with navigator Kurt Gessl. Peter’s friend Fritz Stein took the photo during his visit to the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.
Mercedes rarely passes up an opportunity to reach back into their history to pull something out and meld it with the present. We’re all reminded of their storied racing past once more with 300SL #417 from the 1955 Mille Miglia.
This car was on display at the Geneva Auto Show this year because Mercedes was announcing the release of a Special Edition SL. To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Fitch / Gessl class win at the Mille Miglia Mercedes presented the “SL Special Edition Mille Miglia 417”. It will be available in the United States in the Fall of 2015 as an SL550. I haven’t been able to find specific information regarding how ‘special’ this new edition might be, how many they’re planning to produce. If past models are any indication, it wouldn’t surprise me if they made 417 or 1,417, probably something with “417” in it.
It’s nice to see this kind of commemoration for the 300SL. The 1955 Mille Miglia overall win by Sterling Moss and Dennis Jenkins in the #722 300SLR usually overshadows the Fitch / Gessl accomplishment. If you’re wondering about these car numbers… Cars participating in the Mille Miglia, and most similar road events of the day, received numbers based on their start time. Smaller displacement, slower cars started first, bigger, faster cars started later. So, the Fitch / Gessl 300SL in the smaller production car class with number “417” departed Brescia at 4:17am, a few hours before the Moss / Jenkins 300SLR, number 722 that left the same starting point at 7:22am.
Below is the complete Press Release with full details of the new Mercedes-Benz SL Special Edition “Mille Miglia 417” – More photos all the way at the bottom:
Special Edition SL “Mille Miglia 417”
Mercedes-Benz celebrates the 60th anniversary of a memorable motor racing success with an extraordinary special model of the SL Roadster. Its name commemorates the unexpected victory of a 300 SL in the production sports cars class at the 1955 “Mille Miglia”, one of the world’s most challenging long-distance races. What’s more: the SL Special Edition “Mille Miglia 417” provides a special experience of the unique symbiosis of maximum comfort and motor racing spirit that traditionally characterizes every SL. The Special Edition adds a distinctive note, among other things, with red exterior highlights and fine materials in the exclusively appointed interior.
The Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster is more than an icon. Passion shapes its character and its charisma – in the past and today. Legendary vehicles and their stories dominate the model history. One of them is told by the SL that started the famous “Mille Miglia” in 1955 with race number 417 at 4:17 am. After 11 hours, 29 minutes and 21 seconds it had completed the race distance of 1597 kilometres on public roads from Brescia to Rome and back. Driven by the American private driver John Fitch with assistance from his co-driver Kurt Gessl, it crossed the finish line to great acclaim in fifth place of the overall standings and as the winner of the production sports cars, leaving numerous racing prototypes behind. Production 300 SL cars also took second and third place in this class.
After 60 years the new SL Special Edition “Mille Miglia 417” now expresses the laudatory proclamation about this victory and the car with race number 417. For this reason Mercedes-Benz also integrated the legendary number “417” into the badge of this special model as a reminder – a symbol for the passion that helps shape the charisma of every SL Roadster.
Performance, pronounced sportiness and innovative roadster comfort are hallmark fundamental features that also distinguish the Special Edition “Mille Miglia 417”. The eight-cylinder engine in the SL550 with 429 hp enables top sporting performance. The standard ESP® Curve Dynamic Assist and an adaptive adjustable damping system deliver sporty lateral dynamics while offering outstanding comfort at the same time.
The design of the Mille Miglia Edition meets high aesthetic standards and underscores its spirit with stylish red highlights. Red is the color of the lip on the front spoiler, and a red trim strip on the rear spoiler contrasts with the matte carbon. Red brake callipers gleam through the spokes of the black AMG Performance wheels, which sport subtle red surrounds and have diameters of 19 inches at the front and 20 inches at the rear.
The Special Edition “Mille Miglia 417” comes standard with a designo night black magno matte paint finish. The designo paintwork lends the vehicle an individual and exclusive character.
Mercedes-Benz has further upgraded the luxurious yet sporty interior with fine materials and meticulous master craftsmanship. The AMG Line seats as well as the black center console with contrasting inlays and red edging are eye-catching features. The leather headrests feature an embossed carbon structure and an embroidered “SL Mille Miglia” label. Red edging also outlines the black door center panels with red armrests and red seatbelts also adorn the interior. The easy-to-grip steering wheel is wrapped in red and black nappa leather with sporty embossed carbon structure which bolsters the sporty ambience. The trim elements have a matte carbon finish. The black floor mats with red edging sport an embroidered “1000 Miglia” label.
The SL Special Edition “Mille Miglia 417” will be available as an SL550 in the U.S. in the fall of 2015, and pricing will be announced closer to the market launch.
More information about Mercedes-Benz is available online at www.media.mbusa.com