Lon­don to Brighton ‘18: CCW’s Ex­pert Guide

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

Ever won­dered what it’s like to take part in the run? Alas­dair Worse­ley has driven it seven times in Re­nault UK’s 1900 Type C, and is tak­ing on the jour­ney again this year. CCW caught up with him as the car was un­der­go­ing its fi­nal prepa­ra­tions.

CCW Why do you keep com­ing back to do the run ev­ery year?

AW Be­cause no-one else will take the car out to do it. I’m not an em­ployee of Re­nault or any­thing, they just ask me to do it be­cause I’m one of the few peo­ple who know how to drive it. Of course, it’s great fun to drive the car and the Lon­don to Brighton rep­re­sents a real chal­lenge for it, as it wasn’t re­ally de­signed for longdis­tance jour­neys like this.

CCW What’s the most dif­fi­cult part of the route?

AW There are dif­fer­ent chal­lenges through­out, re­ally. I start very early, so typ­i­cally I get half way to the M25 be­fore I see much traf­fic, where it can get dif­fi­cult. These cars don’t like stop­ping and start­ing. The old A23 be­yond Pease Pot­tage ser­vices is a chal­lenge, too, as it gets quite hilly, some­times I get out and just walk next to the car to get it up a hill.

CCW The news this year is that the route is split­ting for the first time, which way are you go­ing?

AW Last time I checked I’m go­ing the old route over West­min­ster Bridge, but I’m not re­ally fussed to be hon­est. The only thing I care about in a route is if it is any shorter and what sort of hills I come across. Even if one way is just quar­ter of a mile shorter than the other, I’d rather go that way!

CCW What’s your ad­vice for some­one tak­ing part in the run for the first time?

AW Well, any­one look­ing to drive the run should re­ally try and do it as a pas­sen­ger first. Seats are hard to come by, but if you’re buy­ing a car to do the run, you should get an idea of what it’s like be­fore mak­ing that com­mit­ment. The other thing is look­ing at who can sup­port you. I’ve got a me­chanic from Re­nault on call when I do the run and

you should have some­one in the car who has some me­chan­i­cal knowl­edge, too. I’ll prob­a­bly have to stop along the route and ad­just the clutch as the engine gets warmer for ex­am­ple – you need to know how to do things like that.

CCW Have there been any par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing years for you?

AW One year we had one of the leaf springs break when I had to abruptly dodge a bus that dived in front of me – that ended our run, so it wasn’t a great year. The first cou­ple of years we never made it very far ei­ther, as the car had been in a mu­seum for decades and we were just blow­ing the cob­webs off it. One time we didn’t even make it out of Hyde Park as a gear­box shaft broke, just be­cause of age. It’s got bet­ter ev­ery year since, though. We re­built it en­tirely two years ago too and it goes through an MoT ev­ery year, even though it doesn’t have to.

CCW What are the chal­lenges in run­ning a vet­eran car, as op­posed to keep­ing a newer clas­sics on the road?

AW It’s the parts avail­abil­ity, or rather the to­tal lack of it. I own a 1927 Re­nault, which is still close to one hun­dred years old, but I can go to France and buy an en­tire chas­sis for about £400. For this though, if some­thing needs to be re­placed, you will al­most cer­tainly have to make it. Two years ago we found hair­line cracks in the diff’ hous­ing and had to cast an en­tire new hous­ing. This meant mak­ing new wooden pat­terns and go­ing to a guy who worked on steam-pow­ered trac­tion en­gines to sand-cast the part.

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