The 300SL Gullwing was developed in the early 1950s and went on sale in 1955. Today it is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. We were happy that we added not a single scratch or ding to that valuable and worthy vehicle.
It is amazing that a car manufactured almost 60 years ago would be so contemporary today. The car's performance was spectacular, and the car was unbelievably reliable after three days of grueling competition with speeds often exceeding 160 kilometers per hour -- about 100 mph -- followed by periods of switchbacks up and down the Italian mountains.
It was a concours with all the cars performing during the 1,000-mile race. None of the cars was a trailer queen or spent its time lolling on the grass. All 390 entries did what they were designed to do, which is race. Though all were from that long-ago era, many performed quite admirably considering their age.
Our Mercedes stood out as a competitor. The only thing more remarkable was racing at breakneck speed through Rome and Florence without any time set aside for sightseeing. The only sightseeing was from the driver's seat at 140 kph.
The race even went through the buildings at the Ferrari factory, ending up at the Fiorano test track for a special stage.
Mercedes had a great support crew for us -- and the other competitors driving Mercedes-Benz cars -- to make sure we were in tip-top shape at all times. Joachim Schmidt, global sales boss of Mercedes-Benz, participated for the third time.
Mercedes was a great host, but the 300SL was an even better partner. It was designed and built nearly six decades ago to do what we did. It was strong, fast and reliable. The car and Ernst are the same age, and we had a friendly debate trying to determine which is in better shape.
Millions of spectators from all over Europe watched snippets of the race. They were present from early morning, when we would begin, to late every evening, when we would finish that day's stages. The entire event would seem impossible to do in today's environment. But it happened in Italy and was enjoyed by probably half the country's population.
Mercedes-Benz, the company, was a great host. And Mercedes-Benz, the car, was a great steed. We had the time of our lives. We both look forward to challenging the Mille Miglia again.