Hundreds of veteran cars are gearing up for this year’s very special commemorative pilgrimage from capital to coast, via Croydon.
Close to 300 pioneering veteran cars dating back to the dawn of motoring have entered this year’s very special staging of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday November 7 – the 125th anniversary of the first run.
The annual event, organised by the Royal Automobile Club with backing from RM Sotheby’s, could not be staged in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the historic journey from capital to coast returns to the roads of south London this autumn, with the cars chuntering along the A23, expected to pass Streatham Common and on into Norbury from 7.20am, through Thornton Heath, then along the A236 (Mitcham Road) towards the Croydon Flyover, down Brighton Road (A235) from around 7.35am, and through Purley to Coulsdon and heading on down the A23 to Merstham, Redhill and all points to Brighton.
The colourful event commemorates the original “Emancipation Run” of 1896, which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotive on the Highway Act, raising the speed limit for self-propelled locomotives from 4mph to 14mph.
It is believed that 33 of the 54 entries published in the programme for that original “Motor Car Tour to Brighton”, as it was billed, actually set out (after a breakfast including wine) in atrocious weather from London’s Hôtel Métropole. Only 16 of those starters took part in the finishers’ parade in Brighton.
Today’s records are better documented and a roster of early entries already confirmed for 2021 can be found on the official www.veterancarrun.com website.
The Run is open to four-wheeled cars, tri-cars and motor tricycles built before January 1, 1905, and in possession of a valid Dating Certificate issued by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain or a valid VCC Veteran Passport.
The entries include cars built by early manufacturers such as Mercedes, Cadillac, Ford, Renault and Peugeot, as well as other makes whiich are less familiar today, such as Century, Crestmobile, Elmore, Gladiator, Napoleon, Rexette and Minerva.
“It’s this extraordinary mix of all these pioneering brands that makes the London to Brighton Run such an incredible and unique event,” said Ben Cussons, the chairman of the Royal Automobile Club.
“Technology was advancing in leaps and bounds as ambitious engineers found exciting new solutions to all aspects of the automobile: engines, transmissions, chassis, steering… By the end of 1904, some of these cars were incredibly advanced.”
More than 100 of the cars entered have also registered for November 6’s Veteran Car Concours, a highlight of The Regent Street Motor Show, free for spectators and staged on the famous shopping street.
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