A trip to the Brighton seafront - the slow way

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One of the motoring events that I always particularly enjoyed was the Brighton Run for veteran cars. I first went on this personally in 1936 as passenger on Richard Nashe’s 1900 Peugeot, having been recommended to wear old clothes as we might have been asked to ‘get out and get under’ if there was mechanical trouble. There wasn’t.

The following year I was passenger on Captain Wylie’s 1898 Hurtu. On our way the automatic inlet valve dropped down onto the piston but I managed to put back the gudgeon pin three times, which I doubt I would ever be able to achieve again. Nevertheless we finished at 5.30pm, candle side lamps alight. In 1938 I spectated from a modern car.

After the war the Run was resumed again in 1946 and I was then a passenger in J Kentish’s 1902 De Dion Bouton. In 1947 there was no Brighton Run due to petrol rationing, but in 1948 I was a passenger in George Lanchester’s 1902 two-cylinder Lanchester and again in 1949 I rode in G Frank’s 1902 15hp Panhard-Levassor, but in 1950 I was a mere spectator.

In 1951 I was driven by Ronald Barker in Francis Hutton-Stott’s 1902 Type 8 De Dietrich. For the next two years I spectated, but from 1954 to 1958 I was a passenger in a 1901 Type ‘E’ Mors, a 1904 10/12hp Tony Huber, a 1902 10hp Wolseley and twice with Lord Montagu in a 1902 and 1903 60hp Mercedes.

In the next eight consecutive years I drove a variety of cars from the Montagu Motor Museum with a selection of different passengers arranged by Lord Montagu. By 1967 I went again as passenger with Lord Montagu in a 1903 16hp Fiat, but in 1968 I did not go. From 1969 to 1992 I drove or rode in a variety of cars, among which I particularly recall travelling in 1977 as passenger with Roger Collings in his 1903 60hp Mercedes, as we arrived first at the finish.

In 1984, driving Lord Montagu’s 1903 6hp De Dion Bouton, I had my only Veteran Run accident, when I ran very slowly into a Datsun and damaged the offside front mudguard because I could not find neutral in a hurry. Then in 1988, again in Roger Collings’ Mercedes, with six up, we ran out of fuel in Kennington. We made a big detour from Stratton to Croydon to avoid the traffic jams, stopping half way to lubricate the scroll clutch. At another stop I watched out for the appearance of another fast car that Roger wanted to keep ahead of, and he started off with the ladies coming out of the hotel only just in time to resume their seats.