On 2nd April, Entries opened for the Bonhams London to Brighton veteran car run, with a special early bird offer for entrants booking early for the world’s oldest motoring event.
Due to take place, as ever, on the first Sunday in November, participants in this year’s Run will leave Hyde Park and pass under Wellington Arch before driving past Buckingham Palace and down The Mall through St James’s Park at the start of the 60 mile trip to Brighton.
It’s an iconic route made famous by the Royal Family’s televised coach parades and this year is the first time in recent history it has been part of the Veteran Car Run.
Organised by the Royal Automobile Club, the 2014 Bonhams Veteran Car Run takes place on Sunday 2 November and will attract as many as 500 automobiles from the dawn of motoring as well as hundreds of thousands of spectators en route.
Open to all cars manufactured before 1905, making the youngest 109 years old , the event is a moving history show, with pioneering motoring names such as Mors, Panhard, Darracq and Daimler to the fore.
Celebrating the original ‘capital-to-coast’ Emancipation Run held on 14 November 1896, the first Commemoration Run took place in 1897 with a re-enactment following the same route in 1927 and it has been held every year since, barring the war years and 1947 when petrol was rationed.
It commemorates the Locomotives on the Highway Act, which raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph and abolished the need for these vehicles to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag.
This year the route to Brighton will be a little easier as, participants will be allowed to make use of bus lanes all the way down to Coulsdon thanks to Transport for London and more bus lanes than ever south of the A27 entering Brighton thanks to Brighton Highways and the local bus companies.
Sponsored by auction house Bonhams, the Run is just one element in a long weekend of motoring nostalgia, most of which is free and open to the general public. Other events include the popular free to view Regent Street Motor Show, to be held on Saturday 1 November, which turns London’s premier shopping street into a motoring showcase that puts the spotlight on veterans and moderns alike.
The weekend of motoring celebrations begins on the Thursday with a motoring seminar at the Royal Automobile Club. Bonhams will be holding its annual Veteran Car Auction on Friday 31 October. The Hattingley Valley Participants’ Reception is held on the Saturday night, an opportunity to give all taking part a chance to rub shoulders on the eve of the Run. There are also a number of lunches, dinners and other functions planned.
But few – if any – of the hardy participants will be partying long into the Saturday night as tradition dictates that the Run starts at daybreak on Sunday… a few minutes before 7.00am.
From then until shortly before 9.00am, the eclectic collection of veterans fill Hyde Park with the clatter of engines, puffs of exhaust and sometimes steam, and the ‘ooo-hah’ of klaxons as they start their epic journey to the seaside resort of Brighton.
Petrol-powered cars are joined by steam-powered machines and even by the occasional pioneering electric vehicle. There are three-wheelers and four-wheelers, some with steering wheels some with tillers and only a few with any kind of protection against the elements, which in the UK in November is more likely to be wet and windy than the dry and sunny conditions enjoyed last November. Whatever the weather, Bonhams again will be providing all those completing the route with the traditional bowl of chilli and glass of welcome mulled wine.
What makes the Run unique are the spectators that line the route many showcasing their own classic cars on the roadside. It is estimated that as many as half a million onlookers enjoy the spectacle many taking advantage of free access to the halfway stop to view the veteran cars which this year will be at the kindly vacated premises of the Honda Gatwick main dealership in Crawley.
Here participants can look forward to a spectacular interlude as iconic department store Harrods will open a luxury pop-up ‘pit-stop’ for drivers located within dealership. The prestigious store will be offering a taste of its exquisite Food Halls with much-needed hot drinks and pastries provided in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Harrods is poised to join in this year’s Run for the third time in its history. The first time the Knightsbridge establishment took part was in the inaugural Emancipation Run of 1896.
The official and ceremonial finishes, at Brighton’s Preston Park and Madeira Drive respectively, are also popular viewing posts. Once again there is also the opportunity to follow the event in an open top bus all the way from London to Brighton.
For more details of the event and access to entry forms visit www.veterancarrun.com. Participants entering between now and the end of May will be eligible for early bird savings on entry fees and other events.