The last drive of Mercedes-Benz 300SLR 722 a tribute to Sir Stirling Moss

19/9/2021

Mercedes-Benz 300SLR car 722, end of the race, St James London.

One early Sunday morning in September, a couple of Mercedes-Benz classic mechanics scanned the engine bay with the their iPhone lights before Gert Straub fired up the 2.9 litre straight six which spited flames across Waterloo Place SW1. The ex Stirling Moss 300SLR car 722, winner of the 1955 Mille Miglia was being readied for a spirited drive around central London. It was to star in a video of its final tour of the streets of Mayfair and St James, home to its famous pilot, Sir Stirling Moss. Assembled at dawn at location base was the 722, accompanied by the 300SL Gullwing coupe that Moss and Jenkinson used to recce the 1000 kilometres of Italian public roads prior to the race. Six camera crews, a specialist tracking vehicle, seven Metropolitan police out riders and of course a helicopter rigged with a HD camera were poised to take to the streets at dawn when the director Martin Derrick gave the green light for action.

The convoy sped off east towards Trafalgar Square, the growl from the racing car’s side pipes echoing off the buildings, the SLR surrounded by the blue flashing lights of the police escort. My assignment was to photograph the Mercedes as it passed by the Royal Automobile Club house on Pall Mall. Chenji the doorman had made the early start, dressed in full uniform with plenty of time before the 722 passed the Club entrance. He would salute the Silver Arrow and driver, Sir Stirling being a stalwart of the Royal Automobile Club who was honoured with a life membership in 1954 and recently had one of the clubs restaurants named after him. Timing was everything and a clever phone app meant we could monitor the progress of the convoy as it made is way past various London landmarks. First the helicopter, then the tracking vehicle and finally the camera crew on Pall Mall where I was located. The car made six passes in all, so lining up my shots and hoping no other vehicle obscured my view was crucial!

There was an air of relief as the 300SLR returned to Waterloo Place. All had gone well, the car ran faultlessly and the weather and light had been perfect to show off the silver automobile. Elliot Moss and driver Straub posed for photographs with police officers around the car. The film crew readied the car to drive to Shepherd Street Mayfair, the Moss Family home. There, 722 crossed the finishing line before taking pride of place at the Mercedes-Benz Museum Stuttgart Germany.

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