722’s Last Day

Mercedes-Benz took 722 for one last blast, to the home of the late Sir Stirling Moss

How best to pay one last tribute to the great Sir Stirling Moss? Mercedes-Benz had shown his famous 300SLR, known as ‘722’, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the British Grand Prix, Brooklands and then at the Goodwood Revival, where it led the Stirling Moss parade with Lady Moss in the passenger seat.

And then, without publicity, 722 was secreted away from Goodwood and transported into central London, to be driven through the streets early on the Sunday morning. The destination would be the famous mews house on Shepherd Street, Mayfair, in which Stirling had lived from 1962 until his death on April 12, 2020, in the midst of the lockdown.

We wanted to do something noisy and spectacular, and 722 had never been in London,” says Mercedes UK’s Rob Halloway, who oversaw the tribute – a short film of which is currently being produced. “So many people wanted to help, just because it was for Stirling Moss.”

To film anywhere in London is difficult. To film a multi-million-pound race car in the early hours, from both ground and air, required many permissions – from the capital’s authorities, from the Civil Aviation Authority for the helicopter, and from the Metropolitan Police. All were granted without question, and the Met even provided motorcycle outriders. Most importantly, the tribute required the approval of Lady Susie Moss and son Elliot, who embraced the idea.

“We wanted to pay tribute to Stirling at his home, which we never managed to do in his lifetime,” says Rob. “The film tells a story that will keep the purists happy, but will work for those who don’t know about Moss and 722. There are even a few ‘Easter eggs’ in there for superfans to spot.”

Gert Straub, 722’s long-time mechanic featured in the previous pages, was once again in the driving seat, starting the car on a previously quiet street just after 6am. With flames spitting from its exhaust, 722 was warmed up before setting off through London, exhaust drowning out the sound of the helicopter.

The route took in favourite haunts of Sir Stirling’s such as the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall, The Steering Wheel Club and The Ritz, before pulling up outside 46 Shepherd Street to be greeted by Lady Moss and Elliot. Later, there was one last leg of the tribute to be completed; a short drive to St John’s Wood, where Elliot has recently opened his new restaurant, PLU.

And that really is the end of public outings for 722. It’s a car that was built for a single season of racing – which it completed in remarkable style, winning not just the 1955 Mille Miglia but later that year the Dundrod TT and the Targa Florio in Moss’s hands. It was also loaned to Fangio for the Le Mans 24 Hours, and was running in first place when Mercedes-Benz withdrew from the event.

Since then, it’s been raced and demonstrated the world over, but it’s now too valuable both in monetary terms and as an artefact of historical importance for Mercedes-Benz to run it again. And so, in London on September 19, 2021, 300SLR 722 and its faithful mechanic Gert Straub both retired for good.