This year’s event, waved off by former F1 boss and TV pundit Eddie Jordan, began on Sunday 6 November and was even more significant as it was marking 120 years since the original 1896 Emancipation Run.
The original ‘London to Brighton run’, this event celebrated the speed limit raising from 4 to 14mph – and the end of the infamous man with a red flag walking ahead of every car.
Jordan ceremoniously tore up a red flag on the start line to underline this and signal the start of the run for the 400 entrants of whom were driving some of the oldest cars in the world – the oldest of the group being the Peugeot Type 3, pictured below.
Coincidentally, this year is also 130 years since automotive pioneer Karl Benz revealed the Patent Motorwagen – the world’s very first car. Daimler Benz helped mark the event this year by bringing along priceless vehicles from its factory collection in Stuttgart.
As in so many previous events, ‘celebrity car’ Genevieve, star of the 1953 film of the same name, took part in the run. This movie was based around the London to Brighton run – running since the 1930s, it’s one of the world’s oldest motoring events.
Only cars built before 1 January 1905 are eligible to take part.
The event is organised by the Royal Automobile Club, whose Motoring Committee chairman Peter Read described the 2016 event as “a huge success, a fitting tribute to the men and machine who first put the world on wheels.
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“The weather was glorious – if a little chilly – and that was a real bonus for the spectators.”
The route for the run is 60 miles in total.
Entrants set off from Buckingham Palace and headed down the Mall and past Big Ben, before crossing Westminster Bridge to start the run south.
The cars drove to Crawley, before a pitstop at The Harrods Stop at Honda Gatwick, ahead of continuing south. The finish was Brighton’s Madeira Drive on the seafront.
Needless to say, there were breakdowns along the way. RAC crews were out in force to help competitors get going again – and, although it’s not a race, the onus was still very much on completing the event before 4.30pm. Those who did so were presented with a finisher’ medal.
351 of 392 starters did so and collected a medal – and the first car home was a 1903 racing Mercedes, complete with a staggering 9.2-litre engine! It was driven by Chris Scott from Jersey, who arrived in Brighton just after 10am. Not bad going for a 113-year-old car!
Ahead of the event, competitors had gathered to star in the Regent Street Motor Show, a free-to-attend event that saw hundreds of thousands of visitors.
It was the culmination of a week-long celebration of the automobile as part of the 2016 London Motor Week, again organised by the Royal Automobile Club.