This year’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run took place on Sunday 7th November 2021 as the historic pungent aroma marked 125 years of the event…
Just under 300 pioneering ‘horseless carriages’ left Hyde Park in London early Sunday morning to make the same 60-mile journey as those prophetic early motorists had done 125 years earlier from the capital city to the southern coast of England, in the county of East Sussex.
First off the starting line were the pre-1905 motor and pedal cycles including a pair of brave-hearted penny-farthing peddlers attracting notable admiration as they embarked for Madeira Drive.
Then, at 7:06 am, came the vintage burners and steamers flagged away by Green and Cussons with the earliest of the Victorian ‘light locomotive’ vehicles leading the cavalcade as they phutted and hissed their way through Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch, and Whitehall into Parliament Square blessed with hazy early morning sunshine.
Half of the participants followed the more traditional A23 route past Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge via Kennington, Brixton, and Streatham Common; the other half journeyed via Lambeth Bridge and then through Vauxhall, Clapham Common, and Tooting. The two routes then merged on the A236 just north of Croydon with the entire magical cavalcade reunited as it headed towards the challenges of the South Downs and eventually the Madeira Drive seafront in Brighton.
This year’s London to Brighton entry included cars from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland as well as 10 from the United States.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been a passenger on past Runs but doing it in your own car gives you such an incredible sense of achievement. The most remarkable thing about this event, though, is the crowds. There are hundreds and hundreds in Hyde Park to wave you off, thousands more on the pavements in London and it’s the same story in all villages.
This is not just about a few people with some quirky old cars in November – this is much, much more than that. The Run delivers something that makes huge numbers of people smile and wave. I can’t think of any other event that brings so much happiness to so many people over 60 wonderful miles. It’s such a privilege to take part.
In total, 87 different marques ranging from Albion and Alldays to Winton and Wolseley were represented on this year’s London to Brighton entry – some, like Cadillac, Renault, Vauxhall, and Mercedes, still well-known today, but the vast majority lost to history.
Having ably assisted with the tearing of the red flag and in complete contrast to his heroics when topping 760mph to break the sound barrier in Thrust SSC back in 1997, Green was driving his recently acquired 1904 Stanley steam car.
The first car to reach the Sussex seafront was a 1902 Mors driven by Clive Evison – the French four-cylinder machine completing the journey from the capital to the coast in just under three hours. Another of the notable finishers was the ever-popular Genevieve – the 1904 Darracq from the fifties British comedy film of the same name starring Kenneth More and Kay Kendall.
The glorious weather has been really kind this year, which makes a big difference for these types of extraordinary vehicles, and I have seen lots of happy smiling faces amongst our participants, many saying this has been their best-ever Run.
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