As much of a British Institution as Trooping The Colour, Changing The Guard or the Queen Mother’s Birthday Appearances, the VCC/RAC Veteran Car Run from Hyde Park to Brighton occupied a great many owners of pre-1905 cars, crews and onlookers on November 6. To those surprised that this massive event does not take place in a warmer month of the year it has to be explained that November is traditional, because the original Emancipation Run was staged in that month in 1896, and also because the Brighton Road, although widened and staightened a great deal since then, would be too congested in the summer for masses of ancient horseless carriages to mingle with modern traffic.
So November it is, just clear this year of those who spend their money, and risk in some cases burnt children, on fireworks, The 1994 Run was sponsored by Tindle Newspapers, so Sir Ray Tindle, their Chairman, wrote the message of welcome in the souvenir programme — it was nice to learn that as a child he had stood in 1934 by Streatham Common to watch the veterans go by and that since 1964 he has taken part with his 1904 single-cylinder Speedwell dogcart — so a real enthusiast for veteranism, although even he got in a bit about the nonsensical Red Flag and 4mph speedlimit theories. But he must have been elated at the satisfactory entry. This year it numbered 460 vehicles, which included cars, forecars and tricycles, compared with 477 in 1990, 496 in 1991, 472 in 1992 and 461 last year. And we British seem to be becoming less superstitious, because for the first time No 13 appeared in the entry list, ascribed to N R de Long’s 1 ¾ hp 1897 Beeston tricycle — something to do with getting entangled with Europe perhaps?
The Souvenir Programme concentrated on the film Genevieve — when will a followup be made? There is in my opinion a script ready and waiting (for the finance?) — and had a double-page colour spread depicting that splendid Royal ambassador for motoring sport, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, the RAC’s President, driving Tim Scott’s 1903 Mercedes in the 1991 Run. The oldest veteran to be entered was again Ruth Moore’s 1892 two-horse Panhard et Levassor phaeton, reminder that Run is not Race, although at one time one associated Roger Collings’s famous Sixty Mercedes with FTD. It is rather astonishing that so many of the “early primatives” turn out, instead of being museum incarcerated, for the Brighton Run, when they afford a truly educational aspect for the spectators as to what the birth of automobilism was like. All credit to those prepared to put up with their driving idiosyncracies and often a prolonged and sometimes cold and wet ride to the seaside. 41 pre-1900 autocars were entered, in contrast to the more practical motors from that period onwards with other VCC crews and many well-known VSCC members conducting them.
Credit must go, too, to the museums and others organisations of that kind which let their cars have an airing on this auspicious day. This year Coventry’s Museum of British Road Transport put in an 1897 Daimler, the Fiat Museum its 1899 Fiat, the BMIHT an 1899 and a 1901 Wolseley and a 1904 Thornycroft, 1902 Albion and 1904 Wolseley, Norfolk Museum its 1899 Panhard, Holland’s Fietsmuseum a 1900 Clement, the RAC the 1901 Mors driven by Jeffrey Rose, CBE, Nick Ridley was again entrusted with the VCC’s 1902 Wolseley, Tom Wheatcroft’s son Kevin was at the wheel of the Donington Museum’s 1904 Panhard, Hampshire CC Museum had a 1903 Thomycroft, Cornwall’s Museum its 1904 Peugeot, the Magee Collection a 1904 Pope-Hartford, Nottingham’s Museum the 1904 Celer, the Dutch Museum a 1904 Darracq, the AA its well-known Renault Park Phaeton, and the Haynes Museum its 1903 Oldsmobile for john Haynes. In addition Vauxhall Motors contributed its 1904 Vauxhall, and Renault UK its 1900 Renault. Sotheby’s had their 19°3 Peerless and 1904 Cadillac and, more anonymously, Robert Brooks a 1903 Mors And although this is not a speed event or a competition it is truly international, with entries from the UAA, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Mexico, Luxembourg. Turkey, Hong Kong and South Africa, to join our own veterans.
The sun shone on this year’s Run and 15,000 spectators were estimated to have watched from Brighton’s Madeira Drive. First to arrive to the hand-clapping was the 1900 Stevens dog-cart driven by Richard Eastmead, with the MP for Milton Keynes as his passenger. Some time afterwards I Proctor arrived in his 1896 De Dion Bouton tricycle, in spite of having had to pedal up most of the hills. Next in was Johnny Thomas on the 1902 GB Napier, with Les Needham of the RAC/MSA on board. The Deputy Mayor of Brighton, Sheila Schaeffer, was handing out the finishers’ medals. The RAC insists that to win these drivers have to arrive on the “Madeira Drive by 16.00 hrs”, but 1 thought they were considered to have finished by the Pylons, before running on into Brighton Town — the rules must have changed, to take in the full 57 miles. The route still goes through hilly roads via Crawley, Cuckfield and Burgess Hill — nice for onlookers but not so good for low-power single-cylinder veterans. This is due to road works on the A23, which have been going on for years!
The RAC’s Chairman had a good run in his Mors, as did Sir Ray Tindle on the Speedwell; both praised the police and the other elements of the organisation — formidable with 410 veterans to park, as well as all the tender cars and trailers, which is where the Madeira Drive is such a boon. With 27 entrants unable to take part and another 23 non-starting on the day, there were 410 starters. The 1903 Humberette from N Ireland was early in trouble, with a sheared timing-pin, but eventually got away, and H Clarke’s 1904 Cadillac had stopped before getting as far as Westminster Bridge. Lord Montagu was giving Dame Vera Lynn her first taste of veteran motoring on the 1903 De Dietrich, the Hong Kong Panhard was on its third Run, and S Ripley and his wife, both in their 80s, were on their 25th with the 1903 De Dion. From the Dutch Museum came the Darracq “Genevieve”, to a trouble-free journey. Another successful run was made by a 1903 Argyll on which rode 87-yearold Bill Peacock who had driven the same car in 1948, when he owned it. Although it broke a front road spring on Westminster Bridge, P Forster’s rare 1904 Waverley was successfully juryrigged and reached Brighton. By 16.00 hrs, 346 finishers had clocked in. W B
Non-finishers (provisional): T Bickens (1898 Panhard), D Harper (1899 De Dion), V Vinne (1900 Clement), R Fisher (1900 De Dion), J Guinness (1900 Clement Bayard), M Rowlett (1901 Renault), R Heininway (1901 Renault), P Reed (1901 Winton). Y Crump (1901 American steam car), M Cartney (1902 Bartholomew), P Norfolk (1902 Oldsmobile), Pauline Jensen (1902 Oldsmobile), A Hancock (1902 Puritan), Mrs Jowsey (1902 Renault), J Clayton (1902 James & Browne), J Conant (1902 Autocar), H Ball (1902 Darracq), R Martin (1903 Humber), C Wratren (1903 Phoenix Trimo), R Carr (1903 Northern), C Smith (1903 Humberette), D Burgess-Wise (1903 De Dion), C Horley, Junr (1903 Gamage Aster), Elizabeth Langton (1903 Stevens-Duryea), B Ferguson (1903 Brown), L Allen (1903 Darracq), D Sharpe (1903 Wolseley), M Barber (1903 Peerless), C Harrington (1903 Winton), R Peek (1903 Pope-Tribune), R Banner (1904 De Dion), J Pullen (1904 Wolseley), L Lambert (1904 Alldays), M Rothschild (1904 Rambler), P Beckwith (1904 Crestmobile), M Goding (1904 De Dion), Dr S Crofton (1904 Cadillac), H Clarke (1904 Cadillac), R Proctor (1904 James Browne), J Mueller (1904 TurnerMiesse steam car), W Magee (1904 PopeTribune), R Merrison (Cadillac), J Bowland (1904 Ford), R Taylor (1904 Autocar ), H Petronis (1904 Rambler), R Stross (1904 Darracq) and D Meyer (1904 Peerless).
Ben Collings rode on Arturo Keller’s 1904 45 hp Mercedes, over from Mexico for the occasion; it arrived triumphant after a spot of scroll-clutch skittishness and a breakdown in the l t magneto, repaired with a Biro spring!
Julian Majzub had oiling problems on his 1901 6 ½ hp Darracq, which were not of his doing, but after the engine had seized he rebuilt it at the road-side and completed the Run, a stout effort during which, one gathers, the engine was not the only thing serviced en route. . .
Roger Collings was in charge of Majzub’s 1904 racing 28/32 hp Mercedes, giving the winner of some prize or other a promised and completely no-trouble ride. Another racing veteran, Don Meyer’s 60 hp Peerless was less fortunate, breaking a steering arm. W B