Mr. Bean at the 2011 Mille Miglia

The recently-ended 2011 edition of the competition-exhibition of historic Mille Miglia models brought a little less ordinary pilot: British actor Rowan Atkinson, best known by his stage name Mr. Bean. Being a big fan of vintage cars, he was behind the wheel of a BMW 328.

Known for the fact that he loves the Mini brand – which he portrays in different sketches broadcast around the world – Rowan Atkinson is a great fan of the auto industry in general and vintage cars especially, as he is one of the most famous graduates of the University of Oxford, the Department of Electrical Engineering.

“Mille Miglia is a classic event of the four wheels industry and, as historic car enthusiast, I cannot but be fascinated by what happens here. This is a positive experience, I have covered many miles and I was pleasantly surprised by the Italian streets and roads. Competing on these machines you can tell which is the main character of the Italians. We’re talking about creative people, instinctive and emotive, elements that reflect the passion on the road,” Rowan Atkinson said at the end of the competition.

A race held between 1927 and 1957 on Italian roads, Mille Miglia is one of the ramps to launch for sport models that brands like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche built at that time. The competition was interrupted after 1957, following two accidents that killed three pilots and nine spectators.

In 1977, the competition returned to the fore by an exhibition event involving cars made in the period before 1957. The vintage car parade brought to the new Mille Miglia Storia (the official name of the event today) one of the most beautiful images of such events that occur annually in the automotive world. The race starts at Brescia and stretches over 1,600 kilometers. Even if cars go with the speed limit through Italian villages, the Mille Miglia end brings ranking of the pseudo-competition.