London to Brighton Veteran Car Run: a “fabulous” 125th anniversary

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THE London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrated its 125th anniversary yesterday and many said it was “their best race ever”.

Yesterday morning, around 300 pioneer veteran cars left Hyde Park in the capital at 7 a.m., agitated by hordes of well-wishers.

It has been 125 years since the first RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run took place.

The Emancipation Race was held in 1896 to celebrate the new Locomotive on the Road Act.

The law increased the legal speed limit for “light locomotives” from 4 to 14 mph and abolished the need for a man to walk in front waving a red flag.

Photo: Simon Dack

To mark this freedom, the event is now opened with the symbolic tearing of the red flag, carried out this year by Wing Commander Andy Green OBE and Ben Cussons, president of the Royal Automobile Club.

After helping tear up the Red Flag, Green drove his recently purchased 1904 Stanley Steam Car.

Green said: “I have been fortunate to have been a passenger in previous races, but doing it in your own car gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment.

Better yet, seeing all the smiles on the faces of the thousands and thousands of people of all ages lining the entire course.

“This is a very special event that brings so much fun to absolutely everyone. Simply fabulous.”

L'Argus: Photo: Simon DackPhoto: Simon Dack

First far from Hyde Park was a 4 hp single-cylinder Lutzmann dating from the dawn of the automobile in 1896, soon followed by the only Raynaud in the world – an 8-hp twin from the same year.

Highlighting the environmental changes the automobile is currently going through, the cars in this year’s course were advanced hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Mirais, kindly provided by Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

An extremely popular event, the race always draws huge crowds along the route and global participation.

This year’s entries included cars from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland as well as 10 from the United States.

L'Argus: Photo: Simon DackPhoto: Simon Dack

A total of 87 different brands ranging from Albion and Alldays to Winton and Wolseley were represented on this year’s engagement – some, like Cadillac, Renault, Vauxhall and Mercedes, still well known today, but the vast majority lost in the story.

Maximizing the good weather, the vast majority of the 286 starters completed the trip to Brighton well ahead of the 4.30pm deadline to claim a graduates medal. Leaving only a small number of starters failing to reach the seafront.

The first car to reach Madeira Drive was the 1902 Mors driven by Clive Evison – the French four-cylinder machine that made the trip from the capital to the coast in just under three hours.

Ben Cussons was one of many to make the trip and a welcome toddy courtesy of Aberfeldy Single Malt Whiskey – after a smooth journey aboard a 1901 Mors owned by the Royal Automobile Club.

“It would be hard to imagine a more perfect day,” said Cussons who shared the Bit with famed British scientist Baroness Archer of Weston-super-Mare DBE.

He added: “The Veteran Car Run at RM Sotheby’s embodies the true spirit of the automobile and it is always gratifying to see that the passion and enthusiasm for these pioneering cars continues to be strong. ”

“The beautiful weather has been really good this year which makes a big difference for these types of amazing vehicles, and I saw a lot of happy smiling faces among our participants, many saying it was their best race.”

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