VETERAN CARS MAKE LIGHT OF BRIGHTON RUN 93 STARTERS-85 CARS COMPLETE THE COURSE—INTENSE PUBLIC INTEREST SHOWN.
AFTER the Commemoration Run to Brighton on the 18th November, let no one say that the pioneers of motoring have been forgotten. Nearly a hundred cars, of which two dozen first saw the light before the beginning of the present century, set off in turn over the historic road to the South Coast, and nearly all of them bore traces of the care which had been lavished on them to restore them to their original condition. Only cars built before 1905 are, of course, eligible to take part in the run. The event was organised by the R.A.C., which carried through all arrangements with its accustomed efficiency, and programmes were available throughout the length of the course, a detail ‘which was much appreciated. The enthusiasm of spectators was most Striking, and many of them settled themselves at the principal vantage points along the road several hours before the first cars were due to arrive. The starting place this year Was ‘transferred from Victoria to the City of London
Garage, just off Finsbury Square. No. 1 On the list, Perrin’s 1894 Cannstatt pannier, was a non-starter, and Captain Clover’s 1896 Arnold therefore took the lead and was dispatched at 9 a.m.„ followed by the Leon Bone° three-wheelers of F. S. Barnes and S. C. H. Davis ; numbers of chuffing Benzes, and St. John Nixon’s De Dion tricycle, which is in regular daily use. The Citystreets were almost deserted, and this gave the competitors a chance of getting their ancient mounts warmed and ready for the fray. However, the Mansion House lights are no respecters 01 aged motor-cars, and several drivers were caught by them, including our learned contributor ” Baladeur,” whose De Dion suffered from oiled plugs as a result of too much oil in the crankchamber. Other drivers we saw doing rather frenzied things under their cars, but the majority of them were proceeding In fine style, and passed triumphantly along the Embankment, turning left across Westminster Bridge, and thus gaining the famous road to Brighton. The succession of cars across the Bridge gave a wonderful demonstration of the advances made in the first years of motor-I
car construction, starting with the Benzes and the Daimlers, queer Side-lines such as the friction-driven Orient Express and the Sunbeam Mabley, which had a single wheel back and front, both of which were steered, and two centre ones, to the De Dions of 1902, which were paving the way for the modern motor-cars, and the lively young things of 1904, such as Wrothan’s 60 h.p. Mercedes, Thornycroft’s Thornycroft, and Thomas’s Wolseley, which even after this short distance was ” coming through the field in no uncertain manner. We were disappointed not to see R. C. Blake’s Gordon Bennett Napier, but as its minimum speed, without slipping the clutch, is no less than 15 m.p.h., it is not very suitable for such runs as those, and on this occasion Mr. Blake was at the wheel of an M.M.C. Daimler of 1899. Quite a number of racing drivers of the present day are usually to be seen on these runs, but this year they seemed to have left it to the Veteran specialists ; the only ones we noticed were R. J. G. Nash,
on the 1900 Peugeot with the enormous headlamps ; Shuttleworth On an old International Benz, the Bolsters on a Panhard, and Oliver Bertram and Andrew Fairtlough, who seemed to be enjoying themselves on a 1904 model of the same make.
The tram-lines and traffic lights of Brixton and Streatham Hill are enough to make travelling unpleasant even for the modern car, and the murk which seems to linger in those parts promised an unpleasant ride. The Arnold, the oldest British machine in the Run, seemed to be making heavy weather of it, the front springs flapping in the fashion peculiar to that make and its contemporaries the Benzes, but it kept on well. The Bolsters, on their Panhard, also stopped for a short time for adjustments, but otherwise all seemed well as far as the Croydon ByePass, with its severe gradient ; t he first hump caused Rowden’s 1898 Star to shed his passenger, and he retired later on. As usual cars were parked both sides of the road, and the drivers of the old cars had a most unenviable task threading their way through the traffic. Crowded and slippery roads were en
countered most of the way to Redhill, where the route • switches over to the Reigate road, and many of the competitors also encountered rain on this section. Early starters seemed to be more fortunate in this respect, and Burney and Shuttlevvorth, amangst others, found their cars going so well that they were able to have a sort of ” brunch “near the spot where the pioneers of 1896 had made their mid-day halt.
Conditions improved before the heavy drag of Crawley, and most of the difficulty there was caused by the cars parked there, coupled with a volume of road traffic as great as that of any summer week-end. We noticed several veteran oars not taking part in the trial but accompanying the others, notably a home-made two-seater tricycle, the hearty exhaust note of which seemed to belie the date 1902 painted on the tank. However, as the cooling pipes ran between the driver’s legs he deserved any reflected glory he might earn in arriving at Brighton.
In -order to discoura dangerous speed, the R.A,C. this year (1(,•i toil not to publish the times. from London to Brighton, but friendly duels were 1.)ound to develop. The two 1903 Lanchesters, which even at this early stage in their evolution had epicyclic gears, engaged in a neck-to-neck struggle, with the 60 h.p. Mercedes as a third contestant. Unfortunately HuttonStott’s Lanchester, a sports model of those days, and fitted with aluminium body and light wings, stopped very suddenly with that rather modern trouble a broken crank-shaft, leaving its staider companion to complete the trip in just 3 hours. Davis on the B( died had some inechanical troublesome seven miles from Brighton, but after an exhausting struggle up the last steep hill was able to coast most of the way into the town and finished an hour before the time limit. There, was rain again just outside ‘Brighton, which gave some of the cars a chance to display their fantastic hoods, while the sedate pace at which some of the slower machines travelled made it quite feasible to hold an umbrella over the drivers’ heads. At last the pylons which marked the town boundaries came in sight
and seemed to be the clue for a thickening of traffic, which grew into an almost impenetrable jam as the town was approached. Modern motorists seemed on the whole more considerate of their pioneer brothers than on former runs, and the local police did all they could to get the old cars through easily.
Brighton sea-front was still the goal for which so much time and energy had been expended, but this year the old cars, instead of being packed into a garage yard, kept straight on to the Madeira Drive, that fine stretch of road used in the summer for the Speed Trials, and after passing the watchful ” Ebby ” in a borrowed Airflow Chrysler, were parked in fenced-off enclosures, where thousands of people were able to examine and admire them without their being exposed to the mercies of the souvenir hunter. Then came the stretching of cramped
limbs, the shedding of hairy overcoats, and the discussion of the day’s run, which is perhaps the best part of any worthwhile event. Instead of shock-absorber pressures, fast work on corners and comparisons of accelerations, however, the talk was mostly of brakes which failed on the way, non-stretching chrome driving belts, and big-end greasers which permit the whole distance to be done on one filling. This Veteran motoring has a charm all its own, and not a man but is determined to do it again next year So ended the 1934 run, a record as regards entry, the percentage of finishers and the enthusiasm of the crowds on the way. The award this year, incidentally, was a gold medal for everyone who finished the course before 4 p.m., the inscription, which was identical with that of the one used on the medal issued after the 1896 Run, recording that it was given “for
We give below the times of arrival at Brighton of the fastest two cars of each year taking part in the Run, but it must be remembered that many of the earlier competitors waited for some time on the outskirts of the town before being piloted to the finish.
F. S. Barnes (1896 Leon Bollee), 3h. 33m.
H. J. F. Parsons (1897 Hurtu), 4h. 24in.
F. E. }lowland (1898 M.M.C. Daimler), 3h. 19m. St. j. Nixon (1898 De Dion Tricycle), 3b. 29m. Major Allen (1899 M.M.C. Daimler), 3b. 21m. R. G. J. Nash (1900 Peugeot), 311. 32in. R. C. Porter (1900 De Dion), 3h. 35m. J. S. Corry (1901 Benz), 3h. 22m.
G. Southron (1901 Decauville), 3h. 27rn. C. E. Byway (1902 Star), 3h. 10m. G. H. Eyre (1902 Norfolk), 3h. 12in, F. S. Bennett (1903 Cadillac), 2h. 52m. A. Prince (1903 Panhard-Levassor), 2h. 58m. A. S. Wrohan, 1904 Mercedes, 2h. 4m, 40s. A. C. Fairtlough (1904 Panhard-Levessor),
2h. 4m. 43s.
Distance about 52 miles.