This year’s R.A.C. Veteran Car Run from Hyde Park, London, to Madeira Drive, Brighton, on November 2nd, attracted a record entry of 163.
It was heartening to see the crowds hastening from all directions at a distinctly early hour on that damp Sunday morning to spectate at the start—proof that it is not only motor racing which has caught public imagination. Alas, the weather throughout the day was wet and dismal—”Heaven help the R.A.C.” said someone, “if November 16th proves dry and sunny.” For this was the day originally fixed with the V.C.C. for this year’s Run but altered belatedly at the order of the R.A.C.
Apart from the rain, traffic was heavier than ever this year and a long one-way road-up section near Merstham caused a very bad jam, which is a handicap the veterans should not have to suffer.
Not by any means did the old vehicles enjoy trouble-free runs. The Cadillac which Stirling Moss shared with F. S. Bennett needed a helping hand soon after the start, at Kennington, Lightfoot’s 1902 Panhard Levassor was stationary as we went by—a board in front made a crude weather-shield for the occupants—and so was No. 1 in the Run, the 1895 Lutzmann, although its engine was running.
Thus early, W. Hull’s 1902 Wolseley, its passenger in an early bowler hat and the wheels covered by canvas mudguards, was going well, whereas, at Lambeth Town Hall, L. M. Austin was busy on the 4½-h.p. engine of his 1900 de Dion Bouton.
A “period” fur-lined rug hung in readiness over the back of L. Lewis-Evans’ 1896 Benz dog-cart. D. G. Flather’s 1897 Daimler stopped for a breather, likewise Roy Smith’s 1902 Peugeot at Croydon, while we had seen E. P. Shaw inspecting his 1902 Beaufort with a worried frown at Streatham Common and Comdr. Wollard working on the engine of his 1895 three-wheeler Bollee on Purley Way.
Jacqmar “Roadwheels” scarves made appropriate headgear for some of the fair passengers.
Engine malaise seemed to be troubling F. Bately’s 1900 Daimler at Croydon Aerodrome, and leaving Croydon Miss Collinson had similar adventures with her 1900 New Orleans, although it passed us going well a little later on, before its timing-gears stripped.
At Chipstead, as the rain fell in earnest, K. H. Baker lost a lot of time checking over the little 1899 3½-h.p. Benz dog-cart. D. W. Dugard-Showell’s 1900 Argyll was seen to possess a useful umbrella basket on the back, L. Briggs’ 1904 Humber/Olympia Tandem was having maladies galore, a chain seemed to have come off the Lutzmann and at Handcross a white cloud of vapour surrounded the stationary form of J. M. Edwards’ 1900 Soame steam wagonette.
Soon after this the Lutzmann and Comdr. Dawson’s Benz needed outside assistance up the hill near Gossops Green and Pierpoint’s 1904 Siddeley was stationary by the roadside.
The end came for Shaw’s Beaufort near Handcross, when the back axle stripped. Long after official finishing time stragglers were converging on Brighton, pedestrians cheerfully pushing J. C. Sword’s 1902 Arrol-Johnston many miles.
In Brighton itself, although a cold rain lashed the front, spectators, huddled under the arches or battling with umbrellas, were out in force to watch the gallant arrivals.
Some drivers immediately loaded their historic vehicles onto trailers or into lorries, others returned the way they had come, the majority stayed for the Parade through the town, tea with the Lady Mayor of Brighton and the official dinner that evening.
Peter Hampton set off alone in his 1902 Peugeot for Bolney, E. E. Sears had but a short run home to the same place, in the 1903 Clement-Talbot. Incidentally, the Sears family were out in force, running a 1901 Mors and the 1904 ex-Abbott Mercedes also. A. W. F. Smith supported the Run with entries of 1904 Century, 1903 Clement and 1902 Peugeot cars.
It was all the greatest fun, as it always is, and, traffic congestion notwithstanding, vintage examples of 9/20 and 14/40 Humber, Singer Twelve, Rover Eight, A.C., 10/23 Talbot, Morris-Cowley, Morris-Oxford, Bentley, Lagonda, Mercedes-Benz and the rest added an effective back-cloth to “Brighton Sunday.”—W. B.