Two truly unique Mercedes-AMG SL 63 models – part 2.
First stop: Brescia.
Our first stop is Brescia, the Italian town which marks the start of the famous Mille Miglia. Mercedes-Benz race cars took part in the famous race many times and brought home victory twice. The first victory by a non-Italian in the Mille Miglia came in 1931 when Rudolf Caracciola and Wilhelm Sebastian won in their Mercedes-Benz SSK. In 1955 the car manufacturer from Stuttgart repeated its success: Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson won the Italian race in the breathtakingly attractive and powerful 300 SLR – with an as yet unsurpassed average speed of 157.65 km/h.
Surrounded by Italian flair.
As we drive through the narrow streets of Brescia, passers-by, alerted by the unmistakable sound of the AMG engines, fumble for their phones to snap a picture of us in the Mercedes-AMG SL 63. Once the cars have reached the heart of Brescia, we head for the Mille Miglia Museum, which is not far from the city centre. The legendary Mille Miglia, which saw race cars vie for victory over a thousand mile course, was staged between 1927 and 1957, with a brief interruption during the second world war. Since 1977 the race has been commemorated annually and the event attracts familiar faces from the past in vintage and classic vehicles.
Back on our own Mille Miglia, our route finally opens up a little: at Lake Garda we take the opportunity to photograph the two Mercedes-AMG SL 63 models against the breathtaking backdrop – and also enjoy some fresh Italian pasta.
Taking bend after bend with ease.
Our next destination lies close to the winding mountain passes of the south of France, a landscape that is almost perfect for the two Mercedes-AMG SL 63 models. Along the notorious Col de Turini pass lies another special location which is hugely significant to Mercedes-Benz and motorsport and which differs significantly from the Mille Miglia. Since 1911, rally drivers from around the world have battled for victory in the world-renowned Monte Carlo rally. As we head up the pass to the main intersection, we are impressed by the agility of the SL 63 AMG on the extremely narrow hairpin bends. The AMG sports suspension on the 2014 Championship Collector’s Edition makes the “ascent” to the summit child’s play. The Mercedes-AMG powerplant is a genuine treat, delivering unlimited “smiles per kilometre”.
Our limited-edition version of the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 has an output of 430 kW (585 hp) and delivers 900 Newton metres of torque. These two characteristics ensure that the drive is a sheer delight and we climb effortlessly, taking bend after bend with ease.
A remarkable history of motorsport.
It is easy to recognise why the Col de Turini is used as a rally route: it is a road which can be driven in two directions and both provide kilometres of pleasure, mixed with moments of genuine fear when ascending the narrower sections. As we stand on the summit of the magnificent mountain and the sun disappears behind the peaks, we reflect once more just how cosseted we are on this journey. Back in 1960, six Mercedes-Benz drivers achieved a one-two-three on these rough roads in their 220 SE rally cars. It is difficult to imagine negotiating these roads at those kinds of speeds, and at night too. Nevertheless, the drivers managed to set a new milestone in the history of Mercedes-Benz motorsport. While the contemporary, elegant Mercedes-AMG SL 63 models commemorate victory in Formula One, it is important not to forget the Mercedes-Benz brand’s involvement in a wider range of historical motor racing events.
The following day we set out for our next destination, a winding coastal road near Monte Carlo on the French Riviera. Almost 120 years ago, a new type of motorsport was born here: the first ever hill climb was staged in 1897 – over a 15.5 kilometres route between Nice and La Turbie. It was here, on the picturesque Côte d’Azur, that the Mercedes brand, still very new at the time, celebrated its first major motor racing victories in 1901. Wilhelm Werner, driver for Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG), was the first to win a race in a car named “Mercedes”. Today this “Mercedes 35 hp” is seen as the first modern car – a car which, with its innovative concept and new design, brought an end to the era of the motor carriage.
Then and now.
Back in 2015, our thoughts on Werner and his car, we climb the breathtaking coastal road, at a slightly faster pace than the average back then, which was 55 kilometres per hour.
For a moment we wonder what the drivers from that bygone era would say if they could see us tackling their mountain route in today's cars.
Time to reflect.
Werner’s pride still lives on in every Mercedes-AMG vehicle. The cars are well equipped and beautifully designed. Each bend extends an invitation to the Mercedes-AMG driver – an invitation gratefully accepted. We too accept the invitation and when we reach the summit of the famous Nice to La Turbie route, we take a little time out to reflect on our journey so far. After all, we have just driven two unique Mercedes-AMG SL 63 through some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world. Here, as the sun sets, we celebrate 120 years of Mercedes-Benz motor racing history, the victories achieved over the years in a range of different countries and the thousands of kilometres covered. And the best of it is that we haven’t even reached our journey’s end.