The R.A.C. / V.C.C. Commemoration Run of Veteran Cars



The Editor Has a Successful Journey in C. F. South’s 51-Year-Old Two-Cylinder Tony Huber. Excellent Police Control Ensures a Clear Run

This year’s Brighton Run marked the Silver Jubilee of the Veteran C.C. and was held in pleasant weather, following slight dampness early on, and was in every way a success. Before any personal comment on it is made, the very greatest praise must be bestowed on the traffic arrangements, so ably carried out by the Police Forces concerned. Last year the road was so seriously congested that to some of us the future of the Run seemed to be in jeopardy. This year the veterans had a quite unexpectedly clear run and the R.A.C. and V.C.C. can face the future with new heart. This was achieved partly by an earlier start, the first car leaving Hyde Park at 7.30 n.m., by air-to-ground traffic control by means of a Westland Dragonfly helicopter, but mainly by the splendid and enthusiastic policing of the route and the good behaviour of drivers of modern vehicles in letting the veterans have prior right of way. Warmest thanks and congratulations to one and all.

The popularity of this Run is best shown by the increase in entries from 57 in 1927, when it was first organised as a modern commemoration event, to 213 this year, which was ten fewer than last year.

This imposing assembly of historic motor vehicles included overseas entries and the Science Museum’s 1902 5-h.p. Peugeot, driven by C. E Caunter.

In past years I have been privileged to ride in such famous makes of horseless carriage as Peugeot, Panhard-Levassor, Lanchester, Mors, de Dion Bouton, de Dietrich, etc., but this year I was lucky in being offered a seat on a very rare car indeed — C. F. South’s 1904 10/12-h.p. Type 4T2 (Systême Arbel) two-cylinder Tony Huber. Huber was apparently an engineer who set up on his own account in Billancourt to build engines and a few cars. He did not last long and Mr. South’s car — since sold — is the only known example left of his work. It is an attractive side-entrance tonneau, with an in-line side-valve two-cylinder engine driving through a three-speed gearbox with right-hand quadrant change to a chain-driven back axle. The engine is cooled by a shapely radiator through which water is circulated by a pump friction-driven from the flywheel: there is a fan but it wasn’t in use. The tyres are 760 by 90 Dunlop. Control is by a hand-throttle above the steering wheel, the Longumare carburetter receives mixture adjustment from a dashboard control, and piano-pedals operate brake and clutch, while the right-hand brake-lever pushes forward to apply quite efficient brakes. Lubrication is by drip-feeds on the dash, and there is a period Stewart speedometer. Ignition is by a modern distributor and oil-coil.

Mr. South commenced his veteran adventures in the saddles of a great variety of motor-cycles he had 14 at one time, and retains an early single-cylinder F.N. — before purchasing his well-known and very beautifully-restored 1913 12/16 Sunbeam, which has won countless rally and concours d’elegance awards. He bought the Tony Huber as an introduction to true veteran motoring and has done the last three “Brightons” in it; he now seeks a single-cylinder veteran.

In this Tony Huber, on November 13th, four of us, R. C. Carter being “chief mechanician,” set forth for Brighton, the rear-seat occupants sitting high above and behind the back axle. The substantially-built body has bucket-type front seats and the peculiarity of back doors opening inwardly. The front compartment is doorless; there is tool-box stowage beneath the comfortable back seat.

Just before we were due away the starting-handle chose to break its bolt, but there were plenty of willing pushers and soon the engine was running and we were away. Whatever ideas M. Huber had of improving on the Renault, smoothness was not amongst them, for our engine vibrated so much at speed that one’s vision became quite blurred! However, there was no mistaking the power of the little unit and, in spite of the full load, the Tony Huber was soon sailing along splendidly, to the pleasing rattle of the side driving chains.

For a moment C. H. Smith’s 1904 6-h.p. Speedwell stopped in our path as we left the start through the narrow lane left by the enthusiastic crowds — 2,000 strong in the park before 8.30 a.m.— and S. J. Snoxall’s 1904 6½-h.p. Humberette had been pushed aside for attention, while J. H. Woodin’s 1904 4½-h.p. Riley tricar 12 numbers ahead of us, was only just leaving as we went by. In the park, too, the adventures began. P. J. Wellingham changed gear on his 1901 4½-h.p. de Dion Beaton voiturette, not realising that the clutch was coming to bits, and at the next gear-change all the balls fell into the road. Eventually, with police aid, the missing parts were recovered and reassembled, and he duly arrived at Brighton. P. Thomas’ big 1903 20-h.p. Winton was stationary, and Eric Sears was working on his 1904 18/28 Mercedes racer, which also got off again, later passing us at speed. The 1904 12-h.p. Siddeley of A. I. Geikie-Cobb was driven sometimes by a white-overalled mechanic, sometimes by its owner. Out of Hyde Park T. E. Johnson’s 1904 7-h.p. Star closed up on us and at 8.40 a.m. we were taking Westminster Bridge in style, passing Percy Kidner’s 1904 6-h.p. Vauxhall and H. Trussell’s 1904 single-cylinder Reo, from the dickey-seat of which a boy unnecessarily and incessantly rang a hand-bell.

Just beyond Westminster, Cmdr. Davies’ 1904 14-h.p. Renault had stopped, and soon afterwards P. C. Waring’s 1904 Renault 20/30 Park Phaeton, in which I thought I spotted Denis Field, V.C.C. historian, as one of the passengers, the aforesaid Siddeley and Johnson’s Star came by.

South was making skilful changes on the quadrant, and using a Klaxon horn when occasion demanded. At Kennington. L. A. Jackson was attending to the engine of the 1903 24-h.p. Shuttleworth de Dietrich racer, and over the crossroads we passed P. G. Newens’ nicely-turned-out 1904 7-h.p. three-seater Star.

Not far away the Corry/Bates 1902 12-h.p. Benz was seen to have stopped, but its engine was running. South now overhauled Courtney Edwards in James Allday’s 1901 6-h.p. Wolseley, and before Brixton was reached saw C. F. Bartlett’s 1901 9-h.p. Napier double phaeton with its bonnet off and a smart A.A. Land Rover in attendance. F. J. B. Budgett was gamely riding his 1904 3½-h.p. Raleighette ferecar alone, and at Brixton South took the off side of an island to pass dilatory traffic, the Tony Huber ascending Brixton Hill strongly in top gear, passing R.L. Green’s 1903 Humberette, C. B. North’s one-lunger 1903 de Dion Bouton and others on the way up. At the top of the hill, no longer so notorious as it used to be in the days of tram-lines, the Cogswell/Millar 1904 5-h.p. de Dion Bouton had stopped, its driver rushing round it with lumps of rag in his hands.

Streatham Hill produced the Fotheringham-Parker 1896 4-h.p. Lutzmnn having its huge flywheel pulled over, an A.A. Land Rover again in attendance, while getting towards Thornton Heath we passed P. Newington’s 1904 6½-h.p. Humberette, but P. Keens’ 1899 3½-h.p. Benz had come to rest.

R. H. Stothert was alone on his 1904 4½-h.p. Humber Olympia tandem; although “seats” for the Brighton Run are at a premium no one seems very keen on the forecar of vehicles of this type! Before Purley Way a traffic stop halted us, and we had time, to notice that P. C. Allen. less fortunate, had the tool-box out for his 1899 3½-h.p. star vis-à-vis while A. C. Westwood, the Fiat exponent, was working on his 1904 16-h.p. example of the marque, which unfortunately retired with transmission failure.

Lewis Lewis-Evans, bowler-hatted, was overtaken going splendidly in his well-known 1896 Benz dog cart; then, just before Purley Way, a strange noise intruded, the vibration died away, and South slid to the kerb with a compression-tap blown out. This was soon replaced and we were off again for the long haul past Croydon Aerodrome. It was here that we encountered some top-hatted hooligans in it 12/50 Alvis., Reg. No. YT 8787, and received squirts from their water-pistol — and it was such a nice Alvis, too.

The Tony Huber made no more fuss about the Purley Way Hill than it had of Brixton Hill catching up with W. R. Stevens’ 1904 6-h.p. de Dion Bouton and the Lewis-Evans’ Benz, which was gently condensing. As we came down to the old Brighton road the police had held up the traffic to let the veterans through. In the melee Courtney Edwards was boxed in and stalled the Wolseley’s engine, but he recovered and made Brighton in fine style.

Soon Ebb Rowe’s 1898 2½-h.p. f.w.d. Victoria Combination was seen to have stopped. A. C. Bird’s 1904 12-h.p. Lanchester, with Bunny Tubbs as front-seat passenger, was being furiously cranked (it, too, continued satisfactorily); and an R.A.C. scout on a new B.S.A. had gone to aid F. R. Piper’s 1904 8-h.p. de Dion Bouton. Before Merstham, E. J. Jarvis’ 1899 6-h.p. Panhard-Levassor was at the kerb, a chock behind one rear wheel, and the 1903 Prescott steamer from America was regaining pressure. We had now caught R. S. Miles’ “turf-turfing” 1899 Benz and H. B. Leech in a 3½-h.p. Decauville of that year.

At Redhill there was a pronounced traffic halt, where we drew up behind W. H. Waring’s 1903 Regal, with its wicker basket and inevitable golf-umbrella astern, and had behind us Cmdr. Woolley’s very fine and high and mighty solid-tyred 1897 4½-h.p. Daimlier phaeton.

Up the hill out of the town the Tony Huber pulled gamely in second gear, passing G. H. Brockington, whose three-pointed star in his hat was, appropriate to the 1899 3½-hp. International Benz dog-cart he was driving contentedly. Before Salford we overtook G. W. Shutter’s 1901 Sunbeam-Mabley and saw work proceeding on D. G. Blackford’s White steamer limousine.

J. Edkins (1902 Arrol-Johnson) had stopped, called by nature to the hedgerow, the Johns/Courtney 1901 de Dion was just leaving a garage, being encountered in the middle of the road, D. G. Warwick’s 1904 8½-h.p. Humber was flying three pennants like a yacht, and we passed H. E. Wood’s 1899 Benz and L. Murray Austin’s 1900 de Dion Bouton, which had a soft near-side back tyre.

Near Gatwick A. H. Wheeler’s three-wheeler 1902 Quadrant was receiving adjustment and the bonnet of E. L. Knight’s 1904 de Dion was off, work being in progress on the cylinder.

Still the road was clear of heavy traffic and the veterans ran easily towards their goal, although work beneath the seat was called for on the Vernon Balls 1903 Oldsmobile; C. J. Bendall, only just back from the M.C.C. Rally in his Borgward, having his Oldsmobile in attendance.

Crawley came and went, South as imperturbable as ever. The Norfolk seemed to have been abandoned and the Victoria Combination and its van were stationary by the roadside. But on we went, powerfully up Handcross, where. Lt./Cmdr. Silcock’s passenger had to push the 1900 3½-h.p. New Orleans, and here we overtook No. 1 in the Run, E. de W. S. Collier’s 1896 New Orleans, going well.

On the easy run now ahead we saw G. W. Goodall and passenger leap off their 1901 Royal Enfield Quad for a quick look at the machinery, while Dr. Fellows’ 1904 Pope-Tribune had its bonnet up, a passenger humorously thumbing us. On the last hill we coped with the traffic on the right-hand side of the, road, going well in second gear, holding back for H. L. Langman’s 1900 3½-h.p. de Dion Bouton, which needed slight assistance from its passenger, while the Prescott steamer was again stationary.

As we approached Brighton the speedometer of South’s modern Rover tender-car told us we were doing rather better than 30 m.p.h., to the rattle of chains and occasional explosions from the exhaust. And in rather less than 3½ hours, we ran on the Madeira Drive, itself historic, and another “Brighton” was over, one of the easiest from the point of view of traffic, thanks to the police and planning.

Ken Wharton had got the 1901 Albion in safely, Mrs. Fotheringham-Parker arrived in her smart 1905 Renault with Tommy Wisdom as passenger, the Orient Buckboard was admired — the whole cavalcade was there before us, typical of the Brighton Run, the most sporting event in motoring. The Tony Huber, which had consumed but a little water, and petrol at about 28 m.p.g., was in fine fettle, and its crew proposed to return in it to London, while the writer transferred — could there be a greater contrast in motor cars? — to a Porsche.

There were 21 non-starters and seven non-finishers, as follows: P. Keers (1899 Benz), K. Smith (1899 Century tandem), Major France (1901 Clement Panhard). C. F. Bartlet (1901 Napier), J. S. Corry (1902 Benz). A. C. Westwood (1904 Fiat) and F. E. Dell (1904 Humberette).