LONDON TO BRIGHTON RUN JOY MARRED BY TRAGEDY
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