The Cars (and Culture) of Mille Miglia

June 13th, 2014

Mercedes_SLR_Stirling_Moss_1977

One thousand miles of no-holds-barred racing through Italian cities and countryside.

Five million spectators.

Twenty-four races.

Fifty-six people killed.

This was the Mille Miglia, a legendary road race that brought the likes of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Bugatti to fame.

The original race lasted from 1927 until 1957, with a few years off due to war. The race was banned mostly because of a lack of safety precautions, which led to the tragic deaths of drivers and spectators.

A 1957 crash involved a Ferrari 335 S that took the lives of the driver, navigator, and 9 spectators, 5 of whom were children. The cause of the crash? A worn tire that was pushed too far in an attempt to save time and win the race.

The Miglia came back in 1977, but with some caveats:

  1. Only cars that raced in the original could race in the new one.
  2. The event would be more a parade than an all-out race to the finish.

While the danger of the great Mille Miglia was eliminated with the demise of the original, the endurance challenge lives on today. This is arguably one of the most legendary race events in the world and has existed in its current state for about 36 years.

With every passing year, though, it gets harder to keep those pre-1957 cars in tip-top shape for completing the race. Yet every year, the Miglia manages to thrill and give us a taste of what the original race must have looked like. Here’s a brief look at some of the cars racing the modern Miglia.

1928 Bugatti Type 37

1928_Bugatti_Typ_37

Powered by a 1.5-liter straight 4-cylinder engine that produces 60 hp, only 290 of these were ever built.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2300

1938_Alfa_Romeo_6C

The 6C could reach a top speed of 90 mph thanks to a 95-hp 2.4-liter straight 6 engine.

1940 BMW 328

1940_BMW_328

In 2004, the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupe became the first car to win both the Mille Miglia (1940) and the modern-day version of the race.

1952 Ferrari 340 MM

1953_Ferrari_340_MM

Two words: 300 hp.

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C

alfa_romeo_8C

A supercharged 2.9-liter engine for your driving pleasure!

What car would you race in the Mille Miglia?

-tgriffith

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