A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters
The R.A.C. London-Brighton Veteran Car Run – The Editor’s ” Hat-Trick ” with the 1904 Montagu Motor Museum Brushrnobile
The London-Brighton Veteran Car Run to commemorate the Emancipation Run of 1896 originated in 1927 as a bit of lighthearted motoring sponsored by The Graphic, subsequently encouraged on a more serious footing by The Autocar and the V.C.C., and in recent years has been taken over, and popularised as a public spectacle, by the R.A.C.
Some people, like the Continental Correspondent, think anyone taking part in it is insane; others, including, presumably, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, find it worthwhile, or have it made worth their while, to take part in it. Ancient-car fanatics regard it as quite the best event in the motoring calendar. Whichever way you look at it, this is a typically English event which does no harm and even causes people to cross the Atlantic to take part in it. For my part, I have watched, ridden through or driven in most of these Veteran Car Runs and as a lover of old motor cars I would hate to miss the experience.
I have to thank Lord Montagu of Beaulieu for allowing me to realise the youthful ambition of actually driving a veteran car on this auspicious occasion. Six times he has entered me as driver of a Montagu Motor Museum entry; on four of these I have arrived triumphantly at Brighton.
This year’s Run attracted 274 entries, De Dion Boutons as usual predominating. Of these, Tyler’s 1899 Decauville, de Cortance-Thoreates 1899 De Dion Houton from France, Major France’s 1901. Clement-Panhard. the Sears’ 1901 Panhard-Levassor, E. Scars’ 1903 Clement-Talbot, Timmis’ 1903 Gladiator, Morgan’s 1904 De Dion Houton, Jack Sears 1904 racing Mercedes and Strethdee’s 1904 Minerva and 1904 Speedwell were amongst the non-starters. The absence of Sears’ entries was understandable, following his sad bereavement, but perhaps some of the others were regarded, after a recent auction sale, as too valuable to venture out on the Brighton road! Entries not seen previously included a 1900 Bardon and a 1902 Isotta-Fraschini.
Lord Montagu, determined that his famous Motor Museum shall not become a hibernating place, entered Lt-Cmdr. G. F. Bennett’s 1903 16-h.p. Cadillac tonneau which he drove himself, a 1903 -16-h.p. Fiat in conjunction with Fiat (England) Ltd. for Sir Norman Joseph to drive, a 1903 7-h.p. Panhard-Levassor for Lady Montagu, and the 1904 6-h,p. Brushmobile which I had got safely through the Run on a couple of previous occasions. It was nice to see entries from the Shuttleworth Trust, the College of Automobile and Aeronautical Engineering, City & Guilds College, Autobooks Ltd— Rootes Ltd., Transport Equipment (Thornycroft) Ltd, and Vauxhall Motors Lid. But the cream of the Brighton Run is provided by private owners who continue to regard their veteran cars as possessions to enjoy in events of this kind and who have not interned them in vaults and storerooms preparatory to their appearance in the salesrooms.
I was invited to collect the Brushmobile from Beaulieu, where it had been handsomely repainted and re-upholstered, on the Thursday and was relieved to discover that it fitted the VW transporter used for its transportation as to the manner born. The efficient paperwork of the Museum covered every contingency and on the Saturday we duly unloaded the car at the Camberland Garage at Marble Arch. Using a usefully-roomy Ford Corsair V4 as tender car, I arrived for breakfast at the Cumberland at a very grim hour, and feeling very grim on account of ‘flu, to find Lord Montagu’s cars intact but that Jim Clark and Miss World, respectively co-drivers for his Lordship and Lady Montagu, had not turned up. In spite of romantic and other suggestions relating to the World Champion Driver and the Beauty Queen, the facts appear to be that Clark’s father was indisposed, causing him to fly to Scotland, and that Miss World was also ill. Instead, Lord Montagu took Count Lurani, with two other passengers, in the single-cylinder Cadillac and rose-grower Harry Wheateroft stood in for the young lady. The 1922 Montagu Motor Museum charabanc, in which I have twice travelled to Brighton on the H.C.V.C. Run, took other guests of Lord Montagu over the route, and the Museum’s Land-Rover and trailer was manned by his enthusiastic engineers, to succour any of his entries that became en panne.
To recap. from 1959 and 1961, the Brushmobile was a product of the Brush Electrical Engineering, Co. of Loughborough, based on the design of the contemporary Vauxhall. It has a civilised 2-seater body with lockable boot, and running-boards that suspect are a recent addition, the n/s one supporting two wooden bearings for an enormous home-made starting-crank. Propulsion is by a single-cylinder water-cooled 978-c.c. gas engine in line. with the chassis, driving through a 3-speed and reverse gearbox. with r.h. quadrant gear-lever, and a long exposed final-drive chain. Suspension is by coil-springs all round, the axles located by radius arms and tongued slides. The car is steered by a small wheel, above which are the pull-up levers controlling throttle and spark. Ignition is by trembler coil and battery, lubrication by drip-feed through a small glass reservoir. The Brushmobile is really a very practical means of travelling front London to Brighton in under four hours, without pausing to refuel, which is just as well, because the tank orifice is so small a funnel has to be used. It is adequately cooled, its lubrication system functions without anxiety, and once the lusty one-lunger engine gets into its stride you leave behind other single-cylinder veterans of similar antiquity. But uphill, although the Brushmobile will slog splendidly on its low 1st speed, it is very slow, and then cars like Moore’s De Dion Bouton will come upon it and go slowly past. Its brakes give no cause for alarm, and driving this littleknown product from Loughborough is very little more exacting than handling a Trojan or some other underpowered vintage small car. Weather protection is not at all bad either, although in the rain-showers of November 7th I envied Lord Strathcarron his 1903 Georges Richard brougham and the passengers in Welham’s 1904 Cadillac their limousine rear quarters. Another car had a very modern-looking hood and apron, a Renault its hood erect—there is no need to get wet on the Brighton Run.
Non-starters, apart from those already mentioned, comprised Goldsmith’s 1896 Benz, Essex’s 1900 De Dion Bouton tricycle, Bradshaw’s 1900 Liver, the 1900 Menon which should have been driven by ex-Maserati racing driver Count Castelbarco, Crabbe’s 1902 Albion steam cart, Hull’s 1902 Wolseley, Peter Pointer’s W’olseley in which I rode some years ago. FitzPatrick’s 1903 Achilles which lives with his giant Maybach-Metallurgique, Lord Strathconna’s 1903 Humber. Waring’s 1903 Regal. Betteridge’s 1903 White Steamer with swing-seat tonneau body, and Paterson’s 1903 Winton. Hutton-Stott’s 4-cylinder Lanchester was not ready, its radiator being still at the repairers, so his daughter did not get a drive but Hutton-Stott went through in his 1903 2-cylinder Lanchester. Dr. Ferrand coming from France had an accident near Newhaven which put his 1899 Georges-Richard out of the Run, and other non-starters were Thomas’ 1896 Leon-Bollee, the Rockcliffe/Johnson 1898 Benz, Bird’s 1899 Benz dogcart, Hayes’ 1899 Hurtu, Wellingham’s 1901 De Dion Bouton, Shaw’s 1902 Beaufort, Corry’s 1902 Benz, Spivey’s 1902 Gladiator, Clarkson’s 1902 Panhard-Levassor, Mrs. Oakden’s 1902 Peugeot, ‘Fhorpe’s 5903 Darracq, Watson’s 1903 Gladiator, Jackman’s1903 Phoenix-Trimo, de Kilmaine’s 5904 Brouhot, Bosomworth’s 1904 De Dion Bouton, Gee’s 1904 De Dion Houton, Strathdee’s 1904 Humberette, Scott’s 1904 Minerva, Brown’s 1904 Orient Buckboard, Evan-Cook’s 1904 Rexette, Day’s 1904 Vulcan and Reeves’ 1904 Wolseley—I do hope my previous remarks do not apply to any or all of these!
Having cranked-up the Brushmobile and driven it to the Cumberland Hotel for breakfast (expensive—and no toilet paper in the lavatory!), I felt such faith in a car built nine years before I was born that I dispatched my wife and two daughters to Brighton in the Ford Corsair, telling them I would arrive about 1 p.m.
At the start I noticed passengers in period costume in Alldays’ 1904 Alldays and Onions, driven by Ruffell, presumably for the benefit of a cine-camera it was carrying—a thing the V.C.C. used to frown upon. Work was being done on the 1904 Laurin & Klement from Czechoslovakia, which had LONDONBRIGHTON in large white letters on its stern. We were held rather a long time before being given permission to go and the tube-radiator of the Brushmobile got a bit steamed up. Otherwise, accompanied by a hatless young photographer whose prize the ride was for winning a Photographic Competition in conjunction with the Montagu Motor Museum—he said he is a scooterrider and wouldn’t fed the cold—this was a quite uneventful journey.
The rain came down in earnest near Merstham and it was impossible to make notes, but I remember the duels with Moore’s De Dion Bouton, the trilby-hatted Goldsmith in a 1902 Panhard-Levassor double phaeton occupying the extreme offside of the road, lots of veterans stationary at the roadside, and passing the pram-wheeled 1894 Bremer, which had started at 7 a.m., well on along the route.
This year Lord Montagu had arranged for us to stop at the R.P. Motors in Redhill in case anyone required Castrol or B.P., and, blinded by a fast drizzling rain, we were glad to do so. Some Castrol XL was added to the oil reservoir but otherwise the Brushmobile required no attention. We stopped for perhaps 15 minutes and soon after 1 p.m. were at Brighton, having left Hyde Park at 8.40 a.m., the Run, enjoyable as ever but quite uneventful, Over for another year. If I was rude to the finishing area marshal when he wanted me to move forward and all the gears seemed to have left the quadrant, I ask him to accept my apologies and put it down to the after effects of 24-hour ‘flu, the only thing which marred the pleasure of achieving a personal ” hat-trick ” with the Brushmobile.
All the Montagu Motor Museum entries got through successfully, although there was a bit of a hold-up around Pyecombe, when the Maxwell pulled up to assist Lady Montagu’s Panhard-Levassor, which had developed ignition trouble, which probably meant a flat battery.
The first arrival at Brighton was Davenport’s 1901 Progress— it usually is! R. D. Thomas, on Sir Clive Edwards’ 1900 New Orleans arrived next, and naturally Jackson’s 1903 De Dietrich, with racing body, hadn’t wasted any time. Hamilton-Fish made his way noisily to Brighton blowing an exhaust whistle and bulb horn, and sounding a bell on his 1901 M.M.C. Paddy Hopkirk got there, driven by Jack Kemsley on a 1901 Renault, and as nothing more drastic than aspirin should have been needed, ” Dr. Lowrey ” has no cause for alarm in this instance! Sammy Davis and his young wife had improbable adventures but coaxed the 1897 Leon-Bollee to the finish.
There were some traffic jams which caused us to stop but on the whole I never remember clearer roads for the veterans or more co-operative Police. Once or twice I was baulked and presumably it was coincidence that the drivers were ladies, but this year drivers of modern cars gave way splendidly—to suggest that the Brighton road becomes so impossible for veteran cars that the Run may be abandoned, as Motoring News did, I regard as hunk. This 1904 single-cylinder small car got up to the wild seaside very comfortably, and so willingly that I throttled it back on the downgrades to spare engine and tyres. Soon we were at the cocktail party so thoughtfully arranged at the Brighton Motor Museum by Lord Montagu and Mr. F. C. Glover. National Benzoie were dispensing their usual hospitality at the other end of the Madeira Drive. The Brushmobile lives in Mr. Glover’s Brighton Motor Museum, so there was nothing more to do and I was driven home in the Ford by my daughter— which makes me feel very old.
For other aspects of the 1965 Brighton Run I hand over to a colleague who was modern-mounted and could make notes.—W. B.
Moving through the lines of cars at Hyde Park was quite a task, since spectators were out in strength, but trying to pick out those veterans which were being mechanically awkward was even more difficult because someone seemed to be doing something to every car. As 8 a.m. approached, those crews having trouble could be rather more easily picked out when their activity increased to fever pitch. The 1904 2-cylinder Lanchester of H.E.A. Warner was suffering from a blowing plug washer, but after 20 minutes of perseverance the engine started and the car left the line on time. Another difficulty at the start, and perhaps the most troublesome, was experienced by Moucka Frantisek who had brought his 2-cylinder 1904 Laurin & Klement all the way from Czechoslovakia. His partner failed to turn up, and though all manner of political rumours were being bandied about as to the reason’ we prefer to leave it at that. The car broke a valve at Hyde Park and when bits fell into the engine Mr. Frantisek almost decided to give up the Run. But the League of Venturers, an independent youth organisation from Brockenhurst, dedicated to help others, came to his aid in a fully-equipped rescue Land-Rover. After much work, the engine finally started and Mr. Frantisek got under way and made it to Brighton on time, despite the fact that his sump contained various bits and pieces which should not have been there. London Motor Club member, Paul Steiner, who speaks Czech, and who happened to chance along, acted as interpreter between driver and mechanics and accompanied Mr. Frantisek as passenger to Brighton, with the rescue Land-Rover following, ” just in case.” Happily, its services were not required, though we commend its crew for a job well done.
Hard footwork was evident alongside the 3-cylinder 1904 Turner-Miesse steamer of C. P. Manley, as the compressed air tank was pumped-up sufficiently to push paraffin to the burner. The single-cylinder 1904 Rexette of G. Evan-Cook sheared its gear-lever at Hyde Park and its owner decided not to run. The 7.5-h.p. 1904 Reo of Autobooks Ltd., driven by K. Ball, was only running in spasms due to fuel troubles. It managed to cross the line to be classed as a starter, but promptly stopped after only ten yards. The trouble was finally cured with the aid of a safety pin from a Press badge, and the car finally left at 9.25a.m., the last to do so.
Having seen the field away from Hyde Park, we left to make our way to Brighton along the official route, but in the comparative comfort and luxury of an Austin 1800. The first car we saw by the wayside was the 1904 De Dion Bouton of Miss V. Qasnitschka, not far beyond Westminster Bridge. Their troubles were also in the fuel department but, though they were to stop on several other occasions before reaching Brighton, they arrived not only before the 4 p.m. deadline, but, before us, too.
As we climbed Brixton Hill the rain came, and we saw the occupants of the 1899 phaeton-bodied Locomobile Steamer of Dr. D. E. Shafer getting extremely wet as the car began to lose steam on the hill. Once at the top, Dr. Shafer, who comes from California, refilled his tanks and got under way again.
Just near here, there were several bands of interested spectators gathered round various cars which were receiving attention. Among them was a 1900 Barden driven by Mr. Lub of New York. The timing gear had slipped, and a long delay cost him a finisher’s plaque. The Bardon, incidentally, has one cylinder, with two, horizontally-opposed, pistons.
Drilling operations were in progress at a garage forecourt in Streatham in an effort to find a lost top gear on A. G. Gilbertson’s 1903 Oldsmobile, and at South Croydon Major C. O. Read had retired his single-cylinder 1901 International Charette due to a broken valve. We last saw the 1903 2-cylinder Tony Huber of J. Leppard at Croydon at 11 a.m. with a combination of fuel and ignition complaints. Between Purley and Coulsdon the 1901 Royal Enfield Quadricycle of B. Ducker suffered a flat battery, got under way again; only to expire later for the same reason. C. P. Manley’s Turner-Miesse steam car was frequently running out of water and the stops for refilling resulted in a failure to finish on time. The 1904 Peugeot of Mrs. D. N. Parkinson came to a standstill when the cotter plate which compressed the spring around the exhaust valve stem fell off. A makeshift replacement was made at the roadside and the car finished.
The 1896 Lutzmann of E. S. Berry spent much time in the forecourt of the Joliff Arms at Merstham, but not for refreshment. Its crew were busily trying to solve an ignition problem which had dogged them all the way.
Between Redhill and Handcross Turn the single-cylinder 1902 Gillet Forest crewed by Miss P. Allen and T. S. Savery suffered fuel starvation, the 1904 2-cylinder Wolseley of J. 0. and F. L. Wiginton had a fouled plug, and the 1899 Century Tandem crewed by students of the College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering was affected by a sudden downpour, but after a “rest period ” it restarted. A. F. Reeves’ 1904 twin-cylinder Talbot was overheating and losing water, and the 1899 Victoria Combination driven by T. R. Cook stopped and refused to restart, defying all attempts at diagnosis.
Lord Montagu was struggling with his 1903 6.5-h.p. Cadillac which had lost one of its two speeds, but he finished within the time allowance, as did all his cars. The Orient Express Dog Cart driven by D. Bassett went majestically through Redhill, but a suspiciously non-veteran screw cap flew off the car. This was retrieved and will be returned, if requested
On the grass verge a few miles on the Brighton side of Bolney we encountered an operation which would hardly be possibly on a relatively complex car of today. On a large cloth, Mr. F. J. Bruijn of Holland had neatly laid out the parts of the completely stripped engine of his single-cylinder 1901 De Dion Bouton. The big-end had seized but, undaunted, Mr. Bruijn released it, reduced it with emery paper donated by a passing R.A.C. patrolman, reassembled the engine and got under way again.
The engine of Mr. B. J. Williams’ 1900 Progress Quadricycle gave much trouble, but he arrived at Madeira Drive within his time allowance, having pedalled furiously most of the way.
Though we didn’t see it during our journey, the Bremer suffered so badly from lack of brakes that at each hill of even average gradient the passengers were obliged to disembark and run behind holding the vehicle back.—G. P.
Non-finishers : E. S. Berry (1896 Lutzmann), J. Davis (1g899 Daimler), Dr. D. E. Shafer (1899 Locomobile steamer). A/Cmd. Kippenberger (1899 Star), T. R. Cook (1899 Victoria Combination), Mr. Lub (1900 Bardon., 13. Bates (1900 De Dion Bouton), A. Hodson (1900 Gardner-Serpollet steamer:. Major C. O. Read (1901 International Chatette), B. Ducker (19ot Royal Enaeld quadricyclo). T. S. Savery (1902 Gillet Forest), W. M. D. Montgomery (19o3 L/arracq), ). W. King (1903 De Dion Bouton), W. Wild 0903 Humberette/ A. G. Gilbertson (1903 Oldsmobile), Capt. P. Watters-Westbrook (1903 Renault), J. Leppard 0903 Tony Huber), D. Heyworth (1903 Wolseiey). M. Taverner S1904 Arrol-Johnston). A. 0. Freakes 0904 Panhard-Levassor), K. Ball O904 Reo), L. D. Goldsmith (1904 Stanley steamer), A. F. Reeves 1904 • Talbot), A. J. Mothersele (1904 Turner-Miesse stetuner), and C. P manter 1904 Turner-Miesse steamer).