Around 400 pioneering vintage cars, drivers and passengers made their seasonal excursion from Hyde Park London to Brighton Sunday 3rd November 2019.
It’s now more than 120 years since the original Emancipation Run, which was held in 1896 to celebrate the recently passed Locomotives on Highways Act. This raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14 mph and abolished the need for a man to walk ahead waving a red flag.
Expressing that newfound freedom, the annual Run always commences with the symbolic tearing of the red flag – a pre-dawn ritual this year performed by well-known TV personality and classic car enthusiast Alan Titchmarsh together with Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, custodians of the world’s longest-running motoring event.
A. Lange & Söhne Regularity Time Trial
While the Run is famously not a race, the popular A. Lange & Söhne Regularity Time Trial provided a competitive element. More than 230 entrants elected to take part in the Trial by attempting to keep to a strict average speed for the stretch between Crawley and Burgess Hill. The winner was Paul Emile Bessade a 1904 Darracq who covered the 13 miles at an average speed of 10.1mph compared to his 10mph target.
As in recent years, the Bonhams Veteran Car Run provided a fitting finale to the Royal Automobile Club’s busy London Motor Week – during which the Club presented an array of functions and events.
The penultimate event in the week was the free-to-view Illinois Route 66 Regent Street Motor Show, on Saturday 2 November, which turned London’s flagship shopping street into a motoring showcase that put the spotlight on veterans and moderns alike and attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Illinois Route 66 Regent Street Motor Show
Motoring enthusiasts, shoppers and Londoners savoured a blustery appetiser before the London to Brighton, as the capital’s premier shopping destination was transformed into the country’s biggest free-to-view motor show – an annual event that always attracts close to half a million enthralled visitors.
As tradition now dictates, the famed street was traffic-free between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus and the road filled with a glittering collection of dazzling cars. Victorian vehicles from the very earliest cars right up to the latest electric city cars and exotic supercars were all lining-up for the annual Illinois Route 66 Regent Street Motor Show, a Royal Automobile Club event providing all-comers of all ages with a stunning and timeless showcase.
Illinois Route 66 returned as title partner for the second year in succession and was promoting America’s legendary ‘Mother Road’ which starts in Chicago. Its popular showcase features an eye-catching display of US muscle cars and bikes including Dodge Challengers, a Mustang Bullitt replica, an evocative Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe known as Peggy Sue and an iconic Bluesmobile replica (Dodge Monaco) as well as some stunning Harley-Davidson bikes. There was also charismatic performances from The King B Blues Brothers Band throughout the day, adding to the atmosphere on the Street.
This year’s show, which also marked Regent Street’s own 200th anniversary, was officially opened on the busy Illinois Route 66 display stand with Jan Kemmerling – Acting Deputy Director, Illinois Office of Tourism and Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, teaming up to cut the ceremonial blue ribbon.
Also sharing the spotlight were more than 100 pioneering vehicles all built before 1905 and dating back to the dawn of motoring. They and their passengers – many in period costume – were taking part in the annual Veteran Car Concours d’Elegance prior to setting off at dawn on Sunday morning for the time-honoured pilgrimage from London to Brighton in the famous Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
*The organisers have confirmed that a car involved in a tragic incident on Sunday morning had been entered in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. The car had left the route, which does not include the M23 where the collision took place. The organisers are doing all they can to support the family concerned and are working with the police, but cannot comment any further on the incident at this stage.