The legends are under starter’s orders: from May 17 - 20, the Porsche Museum is covering the legendary thousand miles of the Mille Miglia with its most impressive entry to date.
Porsche enjoyed great success in the famous Italian endurance road race throughout the 1950s and during the recreation event that starts today in Brescia, the German sports car manufacturer will celebrate these achievements by demonstrating two examples of the Porsche 550 Spyder, a 356 Speedster 1500, 356 Speedster 1600, 356 Speedster 1600 S and a 356 Coupé with V-shaped front windscreen, the so-called “Knickscheibe” (bent windscreen).
The Mille Miglia follows the course of the most beautiful roads from Brescia to Rome and back and is among the most important events in the calendar of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. The classic event, which is open only to cars of a type that competed in the race in period, remains a challenge for vehicles and drivers to this day because the 1,600 kilometre course is covered in only three days and typically in changeable weather.
The numbers 550 and 356 represent notable Mille Miglia successes for Porsche. The first Porsche drivers to taste victory were the two-man team Prince von Metternich and Count von Einsiedel in 1952 in a Porsche 356 1100. The first three places in the 1.1-litre class were taken by sports cars from Stuttgart, impressive testimony to the early potential of the Porsche 356.
In the following year, 1953, a phalanx of no fewer than 18 Type 356 sports cars took their place on the starting line in Brescia. The most successful Porsche teams were Hans Herrmann and Erwin Bauer, who took first place in the 2-litre sports car category, with Hans Leo von Hoesch and Werner Engel winning the 1.3-litre class.
The 550 Spyder in 1954 experienced probably the most spectacular exploit. To avoid losing valuable time, works driver Hans Herrmann drove the low-slung mid-engine sports car under a lowered railway barrier. The duo of Hermann and Herbert Linge ended up winning a class victory and finishing in an impressive sixth place overall.
Porsche managed to emulate this success in 1955 as well: this time it was Wolfgang Seidel and Helmut Glöckler who clinched victory in the 1.5-litre sports car class in their 550 Spyder; followed by Richard von Frankenberg and Peter Oberndorf together with Rainer Günzler, who won the GT classes for up to and above 1.3-litres in their Porsche 356 Coupés.
In 1956, heavy rain denied victory to the Porsche 550 A piloted by Hans Herrmann, but Porsche claimed two class victories all the same thanks to Olof Perssson and Gunnar Blomquist (356 1500 Carrera) and Harald von Saucken and Georg Bialas (356 1500 Speedster).
At the last Mille Miglia in 1957, victory in the sports car class up to 1.5-litres went to the Italian Umberto Maglioli in the Porsche 550 A Spyder. Paul-Ernst Strähle and Herbert Linge bagged the hotly-contested class victory in the Gran Turismo category for 1.3 to 1.6-litres, which was occupied almost exclusively by examples of the Porsche 356.
The Porsche Museum maintains and demonstrates around the world priceless exhibits from its Stuttgart collection, participating in historic motorsport events and often reuniting iconic cars with famous drivers of the era.
The next major event on the Porsche Museum calendar is the Goodwood Festival of Speed, in Sussex, on June 28 - July 1, which will once again see a stunning selection of historic Porsche racing cars brought to the UK from Stuttgart.