Certainly ideal models to showcase his distinguished cherished number plates, SM 7 and 7 SM (SM 7 is on retention certificate]. Both have been in his possession since the 1960’s. He also owned 777 SM and SFM 777 for a while and MAR 10 on an old army jeep.
“M 7 was mine too, which I should have kept hold of; cherished numbers are a great investment these days. COM 1C and MAG 1C seem to me to be particularly good ones.”
The number seven has always featured very highly in Stirling’s life, he regards it as his lucky number. He often had a horseshoe with seven holes painted on the side of his cars, along with the race number seven. “I took it from my mother, she thought seven was lucky too and always liked to have the number on her personal plates (DPG 7, JB 1477, FLR 177 and MG 6672). She and I had sevens in our birth dates too. It became a real family tradition; my son is even hoping to marry on 7 – 7 – 2007.” And of course being 77 in 2007 is very special too!
Stirling’s father was a dentist, but also had a passion for cars. Alfred Moss enjoyed racing, winning once at Brooklands in 1923. But he only ever saw racing as a hobby, something he was to disagree about with his son later on. He met his future wife, Aileen Craufurd at Brooklands in 1926. She loved horses but after being an ambulance driver in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, she developed a love of motor cars too. Stirling, their first child, was born on 17 September 1929. Aileen was keen to call him Hamish, but Alfred thought it a touch too Scottish, so they agreed on Stirling, after the place in Scotland where she was born.
Alfred stopped racing when they married, but Aileen’s enthusiasm for the sport grew. With her husband supporting her efforts, she soon became Ladies’ Trial Champion of England. It is clear to see where Stirling’s racing interest came from, but more than that, his parents had competitive natures – they loved to win – a trait they were to pass on to him.
By the age of three, the young Stirling was already learning to box. His mother encouraged him to horse ride too, something he proved exceptional at, but didn’t enjoy, saying he only did it to please her. His love of speed was already developing – at school he became an accomplished sprinter. He went on to excel in most sports including athletics, rugby, boxing and later rowing. But what he enjoyed most of all was careering around at home in a clapped out Austin 7, bought for him by his father.
This happy childhood came to an end when Stirling was bullied at public school in Hertfordshire. It was to go on for many years. Even though he was able to fight back, it didn’t stop and Stirling felt unable to tell his father about it, for a number of reasons, primarily because of his Grandfather’s Jewish roots. The extent of the torment and its effects on him were only fully revealed a few years ago in his authorised biography by Robert Edwards. Yet, Stirling’s strength of character meant he was able to use his experiences to help him develop a competitive spirit. “I’m fairly outspoken,” he says now, “I’m not wishy washy, I’m definite on things. I was fortunate in that I had a fair amount of confidence, which of course is necessary.”