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Vets ready for annual jaunt to Brighton

2014-10-31 09:53

2013 FLASHBACK: A competitor in the 2013 London-Brighton Veteran Car Run, its driver and passenger wrapped against the weather, heads for the coast. image: Bonhams

LONDON, England - Thousands of spectators will line the route of the annual London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Run, the world’s longest-running motoring event, when it is flagged away in London's Hyde Park at dawn on Sunday November 2.

This year 440 veteran vehicles – 34 more than in 2013 – will be waiting in the morning mist of the British capital.

As tradition dictates, the first car will set off on the almost 100km trip to the coastal resort as dawn breaks… regardless of what the weather is doing. Very few of the veterans offer any protection against the elements, showing that the pioneer motorists were a hardy bunch.


As well as petrol-powered cars there will be veterans powered by steam and, proving there’s nothing new under the sun, even some battery-powered electric vehicles. The event is open to cars built in 1904 or earlier so every entrant is at least 110 years old.

Some are a great deal older: the oldest is a Panhard et Levassor from around 1892, built only seven years after Karl Benz invented his ‘Patent Motor Wagen’. Another 36 vehicleswere built before 1900.

Most - 336 of them – reside in Britain but this is a truly international event with entries from around the world, including the United States, Hong Kong, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. Europe is well represented with cars from Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the Channel Islands, Ireland, Monaco, Spain and Switzerland.


Leading the European charge, however, will be France with 23 entries, among them two very famous motoring names, Peugeot and Panhard… names that appear not just on radiator grilles but also in the driving seats. Descendants from the founder of each company do the drive to Brighton: Thierry Peugeot with a 1904 Peugeot and Robert Panhard in the 1892 Panhard et Levassor.

Other famous names taking part will be former F1 Grand Prix team owner Ross Brawn, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, MP Robert Goodwill, Olympic gold medallists Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Steve Redgrave, Jonathan Montagu from Beaulieu and TV baker Paul Hollywood.

Though there are some familiar names on the entry list – Vauxhall, Renault, Mercedes, Ford and Fiat, to name a few – there are many long-forgotten marques, some represented by the only known survivor. The most numerically popular marque is De Dion Bouton with 70 entries.


This year, after leaving Hyde Park, the route will head down London's Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace and down The Mall, before turning right on Horse Guards Road and then left to cross Westminster Bridge. Sunrise will be at 6.56am, the last car will leave just before 8:30am.

The traditional finish is on Brighton’s Madeira Drive on the sea front, with the first cars expected just after 10am with the event officially closing at 4.30pm.

Ben Cussons, motoring committee chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, said: “The run is a remarkable event that salutes the bravery and ingenuity of pioneering motorists… many of the participants will experience the same technical issues their forebears and making it to Brighton in cars that are well over 100 years old can be considered a real achievement."

The run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on November 14 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act that raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from four to 14mph (6.5 to 22.5km/h) and abolished the need for a man waving a red flag to walk ahead of such vehicles.

The first re-enactment of the Emancipation Run took place in 1927 and has taken place every year since, with the exception of the war years and 1947, when petrol rationing was in force.

More details of the Veteran Car Run, the complete entry list and route details.


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