THE VETERANS HAVE A DAY OUT
By E. K. H. KARSLAKE. ANYONE who had chanced to penetrate to the first floor of Messrs. Moon’s Super Service Station in the Buckingham Palace Road on the morning of Sunday, 15th November might well have imagined that they had been transported back to the early days of the century. On every side the eye was met by strange monsters of the past, ancient Benzes, a giant Mercedes, stubby De Dions, lofty Panhards for here were gathered together 51 cars, all more than 27 years old and all being started up to take that long road to Brighton which they and their predecessors had covered thirty-five years before to celebrate the repeal of the 2 m.p.h. speed limit. Everywhere the crews
were busily engaged starting up their ancient engines and filling the air with black malodorous fumes ; while others not so fortunate were engaged in carrying out major adjustments. Just before the start we noticed that the 1902 Diirkopp Dog-cart had had its carburettor removed, and then just when the confusion was at its height there burst forth a sheet of flame and amid shouts of” Fire ! “men rushed with Minimaxes at the White Steamer. It seemed, however, that the trouble was only a blaze up of some parafin which had been spilt, and
one by one the veterans were taken down in the lift and despatched, more or less willingly, on their way.
Non-starters proved to be an 1895 Cannstadt-Daimler, a 1900 De Dion, a 1901 Gladiator, a couple of 1902 De Dions and a 1904 Panhard et Levassor. Our own De Dion Bouton, however, started up obediently, and donning the more weighty portions of our massive clothing we clambered into the driving seat and chugged out through the dense crowd into the Buckingham Palace Road. It was a grey morning, but the clouds looked high and we hoped against hope that the rain would hold off. All along Victoria Street, over Westminster Bridge and away towards the Croydon by-pass one felt almost like royalty as each policeman held up the other traffic and waved one on. E. Martin’s 1903 60 h.p. Mercedes, probably the fastest car in the run, was an early casualty, for at Brixton the magneto struck, and the car had to be abandoned. The earlier cars in the meantime were struggling painfully up Streatham Hill, and at last swinging to the right away from the tramlines and traffic onto the Croydon by-pass. The faster 4cylinder cars which had started behind us now began to come past and at the same time we occasionally overhauled one of the earlier cars jogging along on its solid tyres. Near Merstham we came upon a sorry sight, the 1898 Stephens, driven by the son of its designer at
an awkward angle in the ditch, with one of its wheels at some distance away. Luckily no one was hurt as the result of the accident, and there being several other cars already in attendance, we proceeded on our way. It seems that the old car’s back axle had broken, one of the back wheels had come off, and the car had lurched into the ditch. To enumerate all the adventures which befel the competitors in this arduous run would require volumes. R. R. Marker’s car, made in about 1898 by Charles T. Crowden of Leamington, was put out of the running, and its example was followed by E. E. Duncan’s Cyclon, that amazing early German machine which has now taken part in many Veteran Car runs and has only once completed the course, the same unfortunate record being kept up by B. J. Smyth-Wood’s 1899 Renault, which has set out for Brighton five times and only once got there. Other unfortunates who fell by the wayside were R. E. J. Townsend’s 1896 Benz and L. Wilson’s 1900 Panhard voiturette, but somehow or follows : other all the others checked in at the Acquariurn in Brighton. Last of all, past four arrived Mrs. in her 1900 Wolseley, the wheel over 7 hours experienced the most ventures, a performance entitled her in the opinion the special certificate awarded although arriving official time limit. The finishers with their official average speeds is as triumphantly Garage at a quarter Shuttleworth after being at and having incredible adwhich fully of all to which she was after the full list of times and