More than 380 pioneering veteran cars dating back to very the dawn of motoring enjoyed unseasonably mild conditions on November 1 to take part in this year’s Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
As tradition dictates, the 119th Anniversary Run set out from Hyde Park at daybreak and headed 60 miles south through a misty London and onto a sunny Sussex seafront. For only the third time in more than half a century, this year’s route took the intrepid participants—all driving pioneering cars from the pre-1905 era—past Buckingham Palace and down The Mall before heading past Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge. The capital’s early morning mist added to the period Victorian atmosphere.
The first few cars began to arrive on Maderia Drive shortly after 10 a.m.—the 1903 Berliet driven by John Bentley just pipping the 1904 Fiat of Dutchman Jan Bruijn to the honor of being first past the finishing post.
Among the others turning back the clock were Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, renowned Formula One team principal Ross Brawn and multiple Le Mans winner Jochen Mass. They were joined en route to Brighton by three classic coaches driven by BBC Radio broadcasters Chris Evans, Alex Jones and Ken Bruce raising nearly £350,000 for BBC Children in Need thanks to the generosity of their 40 passengers.
Other entries included “Genevieve” from the eponymous 1953 film, a large number of cars from the U.S. celebrating this year’s American theme and significantly the 1901 Isotta Fraschini—chassis number 1, the very first car to wear the famous “IF” badge—making its VCR debut this year.
Mass, Mason and Brawn all made it to Brighton, too. Brawn needing all his engineering skills—and several tie-wraps—to overcome a broken flywheel on his 1904 Wilson Pilcher. “It’s such a fabulous event, we just had to make it to the finish,” he said.
Another impressive finisher was the steam-powered 1888 Truchutet driven by Daniel Ward —the oldest car on the run—believed to be one of the earliest vehicles ever to have completed the event.
In total, 342 of the starters managed the complete the journey from Hyde Park to the Sussex coast before the 4:30 p.m. deadline, thus receiving a coveted finisher medal.
Having been introduced in 2013, the Veteran Car Run now includes a regularity section, where participants have to average a precise speed between two controls. It was the 1900 Georges Richard of Rodney Fowler that claimed that coveted trophy.