THE VETERAN CARS RUN
Nevermore let us see the phrase ” Old Crocks ” applied to those antique but still hearty cars built before 1905, which make the annual R.A.C. pilgrimage to
Brighton. Tramlines, heavy rain, fog and a road crowded with Sunday traffic made the 56 mile journey one which the present-day motorist in his snug if airless saloon thinks twice about, so all credit to those enthusiasts who piloted their small tyred and top-heavy vehicles to the finishing line on the Madeira Drive. The start took place at the City of London Garage in Wilson Street, a part of the world happily free from traffic on Sunday. Weird noises and thick blue
smoke issued from the entrance, but Most of the cars were successfully got going in time to face friend “Ebby,” who then deserted the road to travel by Southern Railway to Brighton. There was some excitement as the last car the White
Steam Car, got away, with flames and smoke issuing from its innards.
In spite of the weather there was a good crowd of spectators on Westminster Bridge, applauding the elderly cars and their al,l-weather equipment. Hoods were hoods in those days and we admired the towering Cape Carts on Vernon Balls’s 1901 Oldsmobile, some of the early Benzes and R. J. G. Nash’s 1903 Panhard ; those not so equipped in many cases used golf umbrellas, notably J. C. Garland on a 1901 James and Brown. Drivers one associates more with present-day racing were Powys-Lybbe on the Fiat Darracq, and Oliver Bertram and Fairtlough on their 1904 Panhard. R. 0. Shuttlefailed to send in his entry before the closing date but joined up with the others
at Westminster Bridge driving a Benz. car, were much admired. His companion at the wheel was Charlie Martin, and their hairy goat-skin coats which dated from the same period as the Brixton Hill was the first obstacle to be encountered and presented little difficulty to the majority of the cars, a notable exception being T. R. Price’s 1899 Benz which came to a standstill near the top and was delayed nearly half an hour showed a really good turn of speed, notmaking adjustments. Many of the cars
ably the Lanchesters, Napier and the White Steamer, which seemed by now to have regained its breath.
Visibility improved somewhat on the lower ground near Redhill, but rain continued to fall. From there the classic route turns across country to Reigate, which was just as well, as the other route to Brighton was flooded just before Horley. In compensation for this, the road shoots downhill into Reigate town, where there are traffic lights at the exit of the tunnel under the hill, and some frantic shouts were heard as old cars came bearing down for the right-angle corner with brakes hard on. Barson on a fixed-gear 1899 De Dion tricycle had to go completely round an island in the middle of the road before he dared make the turn, but the local police force were very sporting about the whole thing, and a. constable was specially told off to work the lights and give competitors a free passage. Handcross did not seem to cause anyone much trouble, while cars like the Panhard driven by Colonel Jarrett and the M.M.C. Daimler with Commander Graham White, another pioneer motorist, at the wheel, simply sailed up. Overheating or a defective water pump brought Ben
nett’s Cadillac to rest, while Bertram’s Panhard lost the head of one of its valves and required manual assistance from its crew. The boundary pylons outside Brighton must have seemed to many weary com petitors the entrance to the Promised Land, soaked and cold as they were but determined to hold out for another four
miles. Good station-keeping between Keppe on a De Dion and his relief car made it possible for the crew to take on lighted cigarettes, while Mrs. Jarrett clung gamely to the wheel of her 1901 Durkopp while her passenger massaged her stiff arms. A pilot car headed the procession in order that th re should be no suggestion that a ” race ” had taken place. The first to arrive was H. Eyre on a 1902 Napier, a 4-cylinder car which Made the journey in spite of the regulation of the pilot car in under three hours. Other cars early at the finish were Lanchesters driven by George H. Lanchester and Hut
ton-Scott, A. W. Smith’s 1903 Clement, with a radiator already suggesting the prey, ar Talbot, Wrothan’s 1904 Mercedes and Captain Wylie’s 1903 Wolseley. Credit not only to the strong but to those who had struggled with all sorts of difficulties on the way. Shuttleworth arrived on time despite the fracture of the tie-rod connecting the front and rear spring of his Benz—fortunately Martin had remembered to lay in a good stock of liquid provisions. ” B. Bira ” the Siamese driver almost gave up in despair during the early part of the run on his borrowed Oldsmobile with tiller steering, but after an hour’s delay carried on and atrived drenched but protected about the face with a racing visor after five hours of heavy work. George Reynolds, better known nowadays as a Brooklands timekeeper, arrived on his Benz with independent steering on one front wheel, but everyone -agreed that it was fine fun
after all. The team prize incidentally went to the De Dions driven by R. C. Porter, H. F. Parsons and J. ,Shearman, the first two dating from1900, while Sheartnan’s was a year younger. The Mayor’s tea-party as usual concluded proceedings and the assembled drivers now with circulation restored learnt that their host had been one of the organisers of the pioneer Brighton Run in
3897. No wonder the Brighton Town Council look on motoring events withi such kindly interest !