The 1996 RAC MSA Veteran Car Brighton Run took on a special significance, because the original Run to celebrate the new dawn for automobilism in Britain happened a century ago. The response was astonishing and thoroughly in keeping, with the remarkable entry of 661 pre-1905 vehicles, All the more remarkable when it is recalled that in 1927, when a re-enactment of the 1896 Emancipation Run was organised by two newspapers, only 51 ‘veterans’ (allegedly all pre-1906) were found by those anxious to take part, and not all were authentic.
We told last month how the remaining horseless carriages which went out on the Brighton Road 100 years ago, plus others old enough to have done so, assembled the Saturday prior to the Run and were accorded the privilege of having Whitehall Place and other thoroughfares used in the first Run closed for their display. Now we have to report that 625 truly historic vehicles left Hyde Park on Sunday, and that of these, 84 failed to reach Brighton.
The oldest of these was Roy Southward’s 1891 Panhard-Levassor from New Zealand, which arrived successfully, as did next-oldest T Garrett’s 1893 Benz. First to the finish was Mike Timms’ 1898 Panhard-Levassor; but the RAC is insistent that the Run is not a race, whatever the onlookers might think… That so many people turn out to watch this unique cavalcade by is a valid reason why any interference in the driving of older vehicles on public roads must be strongly resisted.
The Brighton Run drivers show a special degree of competence in persuading their motors to behave safely in traffic ably assisted by the police en route. Although one paper innaccurately suggested that “rear enders” are “very common”, we heard of only one, and that beyond the finishing line. WB