ONE FAMILY FRONMENWEWS
RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is taking place this year on Sunday 6th November, and one of the entrants has a most remarkable claim to fame – it is a one family owned car from new!
It was 119 years ago that ‘Tramway King’ Sir George White, a Bristol-based businessman, stockbroker and later the founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, splashed out £750 on a sparkling new Panhard-Levassor as a generous 21st birthday present for his son, Stanley White. The French car remains in the White family to this very day in the hands of Stanley’s grandson – also Sir George White.
In 1903, young Stanley was dispatched to Paris to collect the 2.4-litre four-cylinder machine, which came with a four-seater tonneau body by Labourdette and was capable of 40mph. When purchased the Panhard was painted white with subtle red detailing, but this was changed to the family’s dark green and black livery and, with the introduction of number plates, it was registered AE 10. 'That was the last time it was painted – 1904,' smiles Sir George, who inherited the car in its authentic condition on his grandfather’s death in 1964.
Having been semi-retired to White’s holiday home near Chard in Somerset where it became transport for fishing trips to the river Yarty, AE 10 was first entered into the Veteran Car Run during the 1950s when Sir Alec Croydon, head of BAC’s Engine Division, was allowed to enter it into selected events. The current Sir George believes this will be the Panhard’s 20th London to Brighton, the first nine having been under Sir Alec’s stewardship and the most recent 10 under his own.
'It is ridiculously exciting, but it shouldn’t be, should it?' he says with a laugh. 'You’re pottering along in a silly old car, but there’s a tremendous sense of achievement. There really is something quite wonderful about meeting in Hyde Park at dawn. I remember one year, there was a low mist over the whole of the park and over the water. Standing in the semi-darkness with the mist everywhere, I remember a car that appeared with candles in its headlights. It was quite extraordinary. Then leaving Hyde Park is wonderful, and there’s a tremendous sense of exhilaration and a fantastic sense of satisfaction if you do get to Brighton.'
The full lifetime story of AE 10 is one of the many features to be found in the official RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run programme priced at £5 and available either from vendors along the route or via the