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  • Writer's pictureSarah

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2019

1904 Thornycroft tourer
1904 Thornycroft tourer

The first Sunday of November every year sees the London to Brighton veteran car run take place. It's always seemed a little perverse to me that it takes place when the weather is often wet, windy and rather wild. But it's been running on this Sunday since 1896, when the participating cars would have been pretty new; so who am I to question the wisdom of the time of year it's held?

1905 Cadillac

The car run started to commemorate the cancellation of the Locomotive Act, which limited the speed of self-propelled wagons on the roads to 4 miles per hour.

When I was young, I remember the excitement of my dad taking me to the bottom of our road to watch the spectacle, clutching a flask of hot chocolate to keep us warm. A regular highlight would be the car carrying the Blue Peter presenters. As every car passed we'd all wave and cheer them on, whilst wondering just how many would actually make the whole 60 mile journey from Hyde Park to Brighton. I carried on the tradition taking my son to watch and cheer the cars on whilst he was growing up.

It's been a few years now since I'd been, and I'd forgotten just how much effort the drivers and their lucky passengers often put into matching their clothing to the era in which their car was manufactured.

The rain stayed away this year, so we ventured out to cheer them on once more, along with my now 91 year old dad who had worked as a car mechanic in his youth, who remains a car enthusiast.

1901 De Dion Bouton
Yes, this gentleman is travelling 60 miles facing backwards! Don't worry though as the Driver is facing the right way in this 1901 De Dion Bouton

I suspect that some of these drives proved to be more comfortable than others! Some of the cars are truly old dating from 1896 onwards. Many names are now gone as manufacturers such as De Dion Bouton, and others such as Benz were acquired and conjoined into others. The differences between them all are quite striking, with a mere few years showing great strides in technology advances. Some cars were steam powered! and in the past electric cars have been run on the event, showing that Tesla were a very long way from being the first production electric vehicles on the market! You may think it amazing that cars from this period still exist, but they were very expensive and were built to very high standards, that you would see in the aviation industry for example. Also, these vehicles are often family heirlooms, and are very lovingly cared for and looked after.

This is an amazing spectacle to catch, truly a London institution that's not be missed.

1898 Benz
1898 Benz

More information can be found here:

Why not put it into your diary for next year. We'll be there cheering them on again.



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