Brighton or Bust

The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Peter Collins went along for the ride

The celebration of the Royal Automobile Club Emancipation Run, which allows pre-1904 cars to enjoy an annual journey from London’s Hyde Park to Brighton, has become established as something much more comprehensive than just the Sunday Run and is now billed as London Motor Week and includes talks and forums at the RAC’s London Clubhouse; a motoring art exhibition; the Regent Street Motor Show (attended by over half a million people), which showcases cars from every era, from the veterans up to modern supercars; a concours, and culminates in the London to Brighton Run. There is also a Bonhams sale at their Bond Street premises on the Friday devoted solely to cars of the veteran era. The whole thing attracts huge crowds and tremendous enthusiasm, in Regent Street and Hyde Park, and also lining the route in the towns and villages along the way to Brighton.

The Royal Automobile Club’s Motoring Committee Chairman Peter Read sets out from Hyde Park in a 1903 Daimler

Sunday’s Run boasted the participation of no fewer than 117 different makes of car, many long forgotten. A total of nearly 400 cars made a colourful, noisy and impressive sight as they gathered in Hyde Park as dawn was breaking on a fine (this year) autumn morning to start their journey, many with well-known motoring personalities aboard, such as Christian Horner driving

Lord (Irvine) Laidlaw’s 1904 Panhard-Levassor and Patrick Peter, having his first vweteran car experience, riding with Robert Panhard in his eponymous 1897 Panhard et Levassor.

An 1893 Peugeot, the first car ever sold in Italy, was the first to leave at 06:59 after Jasmin le Bon had ritually torn up the red flag. Sadly the Peugeot only made it one kilometre before expiring, but that’s further than its startline failure last year. Things can only get better!

Regent Street always draws big crowds and happy faces

For the first time, two routes were used through South London in order to ease congestion, a plan thought to have worked very well, and these rejoined at Croydon. Also new is a voluntary Regularity Section between Crawley and Burgess Hill, a distance of approximately 11 miles, and this has introduced an element of competition into what has always been just a pleasure run, although one with a vitally important heritage. It was ‘won’ by Paul Kelling on his Oldsmobile Curved Dash at an average speed of 12.05mph.

At the finish on Marine Parade at Brighton, the first over the line was Andreas Melkus at about 10:15, also on a Curved Dash Oldsmobile with, Tom Loder second on his 1900 Stephens. The cars continued to arrive throughout the day, with the finish being kept open until dusk – about 16:30 – by which time the vast majority of the entry had arrived.

Randal Dunluce on his 1903 Martini arrives in Brighton
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