Mille Miglia Photo Exhibition at the Saab Museum

Posted to the events page……

The Saab Car Museum in Trollhättan will host a special photo exhibition on the 2011 Mille Miglia from Saturday, May 28 until Monday, June 6.

The exhibition will feature the two vehicles (still with Italian mud caked in the tire tread!) driven by Mats Fägerhag and Hans Hugenholtz, along with a slideshow of images taken during the rally. The images were shot by renowned British photographer Charlie Magee.

The exhibition will be open to the public during normal business hours, Monday to Sunday 11:00-16:00, and entrance will be included with purchase of museum day pass.

Get a preview of some of the photos here.

History: Mille Miglia and Saab

Once described as the world’s greatest road race, the Mille Miglia was created in 1927 as a marathon speed test of man and machine on closed public roads from Brescia to Rome and back. The original route was almost exactly 1,600 kilometers, hence the race’s iconic name – ‘Mille Miglia’ is Italian for 1,000 miles.

The race was open to production cars and quickly established its place on the international motor sport calendar, rivaling prestigious events such as the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.

The first race, with an entry of 77 cars, was won at a modest average speed of just over 77 km/h and it took the winner almost 20 hours to complete the course.

Fast forward to 1955 and there were more than 500 starters in 26 classes. The race was won by Stirling Moss in a Mercedes SLR coupé at an all-time record speed of 157.65 km/h, almost 100 mph. Moss took little more than 10 hours to reach the finishing line, with team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio over half an hour behind in second place.

The 24th and final Mille Miglia road race was held in 1957 for a field restricted to 350 entries. A Saab was entered for the first and only time, winning its class. Crewed by Charlie Lohmander and Harald Kronegård, the 45 hp, three-cylinder Saab 93 completed the course at an average speed of 96 km/h, taking the sub-750 cc category honours. It was a privately-entered car with factory support and had finished the Acropolis Rally in Greece only a few days earlier.

Italian Piero Taruffi was the 1957 winner for Ferrari but, just 40 kms from the finish, team-mate Alfonso de Portago crashed after a tire blow-out, killing himself, his navigator and 10 spectators. Three days later all motor racing on public roads was banned by the Italian government on safety grounds.

The Mille Miglia in its current form was first revived in 1984 and is now an annual ‘regularity’ contest held on open roads, with points awarded or deducted for punctual arrival at a series of time controls.

Held over three days, it follows the original route as far as possible and is open only the vehicles of the type that competed between 1927 and 1957. The international entry is restricted to 375 cars and is heavily over-subscribed each year. In historic motor sport circles, the Mille Miglia has now established a level of prestige that is comparable to the event in its competition heyday.

For the 2011 edition, Saab brought three 93s to the Brescia starting line. The #331 car was driven by Mats Fägerhag, Saab Automobile’s Vice President Vehicle Product Development, with Peter Bäckström, Manager of the Saab Car Museum, sitting alongside. The #332 car was driven by Hans Hugenholtz, Chairman of Saab Automobile owner Spyker Cars N.V., and his wife Laurence. A third #333 car was entered and driven by long-time Belgian Saab importer Jacques Beherman, assisted by Umberto Stefani, External Affairs Director for Saab Belgium.

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3 Comments

  1. Good thing Saab entered by 1957 or there may not have been a future connection for Saab to this historic driving event.  Excellent historical summary. 

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