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More than 400 pi­o­neer­ing vet­eran cars gath­ered in Hyde Park on 5 Novem­ber to cel­e­brate the Bon­hams Lon­don to Brighton Vet­eran Car Run. The largest run in re­cent years had 401 cars from the dawn of mo­tor­ing set­ting off on the 60-mile tour, trav­el­ling from cen­tral Lon­don to the fin­ish­ing line on Madeira Drive in Brighton.

This year’s event paid homage to French man­u­fac­tur­ers and their con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of the mo­tor car. About 65 De Dion­bou­tons and al­most 30 Pan­hard et Levas­sors were en­tered, sev­eral car­ry­ing fa­mous pas­sen­gers. Run reg­u­lar and Pink Floyd drum­mer Nick Mason took part on his 1901 Pan­hard et Levas­sor, in addition to Thierry Peu­geot and Robert Pan­hard – both direct de­scen­dants of the founders of the car com­pa­nies that bear their names.

The run also hosted some in­cred­i­bly rare ma­chines, in­clud­ing the old­est ve­hi­cle tak­ing part, an 1893 Peu­geot Type 3, plus an 1897 Type 14, the only ex­am­ple of 18 built still in road­wor­thy con­di­tion.

In to­tal, an im­pres­sive 315 out of 401 starters managed to com­plete the jour­ney to Brighton and col­lect their fin­isher’s medals, al­though there was con­fu­sion fol­low­ing a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent – and sub­se­quent di­ver­sion – in­volv­ing a vet­eran car near Reigate Hill in Sur­rey.

A 1902 Benz car­ry­ing four pas­sen­gers was in­volved in a col­li­sion with three mod­ern cars. Four peo­ple were taken to hos­pi­tal for treat­ment, with owner and driver David Corey, 68, later suc­cumb­ing to his in­juries. In a state­ment, his rel­a­tives said: ‘David’s sud­den death has left his fam­ily dev­as­tated. He was a dear fa­ther, brother and un­cle, and a good friend.

‘He was an en­gi­neer by pro­fes­sion, with a pas­sion for vet­eran cars – par­tic­u­larly the 1902 Benz, which has been in the fam­ily since 1934 and which he drove on var­i­ous events. He will be sorely missed by his fam­ily and many friends.’

The route this year had been amended to in­clude the A217 at Reigate Hill, ow­ing to road­works af­fect­ing the A23 in Brix­ton, mark­ing the first time that the Run had passed through Reigate in 63 years.

The event sig­nalled the cli­max of the Royal Au­to­mo­bile Club’s Lon­don Mo­tor Week, which also in­cluded the award­ing of the Mo­tor­ing Book of the Year (p18). The Run com­mem­o­rates the Eman­ci­pa­tion Run of 14 Novem­ber 1896 – a celebration of the ‘Lo­co­mo­tives on the High­way Act’, which raised the speed limit for ‘light lo­co­mo­tives’ from 4 to 14mph and abol­ished the need for them to be pre­ceded by a man with a red flag. Wartime and ra­tioning aside, the re-en­act­ment has taken place ev­ery year since 1927.

Clock­wise: the Hum­berette of Adrian Her­bert passes a ‘Boris Bus’ on West­min­ster Bridge; 1903 Pan­hard et Levas­sor in Sus­sex; Ymer Slet­ter won Chopard Time Trial aboard 1904 Cadil­lac; pi­o­neers on Madeira Drive

Con­cours-winning 1903 Dar­racq

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