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This weekend – The London to Brighton Veteran Car run includes steam engines!

It’s time to put the spanners down and for the fettling to stop: the world’s longest running motoring event is about to begin. On Sunday (2 November) 440 veteran cars will line up in Hyde Park ready to tackle the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

As tradition dictates, the first car will set off on the 60-mile trip to the coast as dawn breaks… regardless of what the weather is doing. Very few of the veterans offer any protection against the elements, showing that the pioneer motorists were a hardy bunch.

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As well as petrol-powered cars there will be veterans powered by steam and, proving there’s nothing new under the sun, even some battery-powered electric vehicles. Open to cars built in 1904 or earlier, all the entries are at least 110 years old.

Famous names taking part include former Grand Prix team owner Ross Brawn, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, MP Robert Goodwill, Olympic gold medallists Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Steve Redgrave, Jonathan Montagu from Beaulieu and TV baker Paul Hollywood.

The traditional finish is on Brighton’s Madeira Drive on the seafront, with the first cars expected at just after 10am with the event officially closing at 4.30pm.

The Run is the culmination of three days of motoring activity in London: Friday 31 October marks the annual Bonhams Veteran Car auction while many of the London to Brighton stars take part in the annual Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday (1 November).

The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.

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Categories
Historic

Ross Brawn enters his 1904 Wilson Pilcher in the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run

…the braking takes anticipation, shall we say.

Motor racing star Ross Brawn is taking part in his first Bonhams London to Brighton Run Veteran Car Run. He will be driving his own veteran car, the only known surviving British-built Wilson Pilcher.

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Manufactured in 1904, it was created by engineer Walter Gordon Wilson who went on to invent the army tank; for years the Wilson Pitcher car was displayed at the British Tank Museum.

“It was a very advanced car for its day,” said Brawn. “It has a 2.7-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine which is suspended in a cradle in the chassis. It also has a sophisticated semi-automatic gearbox which, I believe, was a forerunner of the famous Wilson Pre-Selector ‘box. But compared to a modern car the suspension is crude and the braking takes anticipation, shall we say.”

The Wilson Pilcher joins a number of other cars in Brawn’s private collection and after the Run will rub shoulders with a few Jaguars, including a very early E-type, and some significant Ferraris including the 250 SWB used by Stirling Moss to win the 1962 Tourist Trophy.

The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the original Emancipation Run, held on 14 November 1896, and which marked the Locomotives on the Highway Act. This landmark Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for a man walking ahead of the cars waving a red flag.

The Run is the highlight of a long weekend of motoring nostalgia in the capital, much it of it free to view. Other events include the popular free Regent Street Motor Show (Saturday, 1 November) and the annual Bonhams Veteran Car auction (Friday 31 October).

For more details of the Veteran Car Run, the entries and the route visit www.veterancarrun.com.