Every year, veteran cars gather in London for the world-famous Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox, an event which has been running for more than a century.
The event has changed over the years and continues to thrive - taking place in November here is all the information you need to know ahead of this year's event, while also taking abreiff look back into the event's history and conception.
What is the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run?
This particular event is the longest running motoring event in the world.
‘London to Brighton’ is a landmark feat that has been undertaken by motor vehicles since the 19th century – and despite the cars becoming older with every passing year, is showing no signs of fading away.
This year, more than 400 veterans will gather in London for the challenge – but how did it all come about?
What is the history of the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run?
The run was first undertaken by cars – brand new ones, not veterans – back in 1896. Yes, 1896.
Back then, it was held to mark the ‘Light Locomotives on the Highway Act’, which raised the speed limit from a paltry 4mph to a far more sensible 14mph: yes, the famous ‘man with a red flag’ was no more.
Driving from 60 miles from the Metropole Hotel in London to Brighton seafront was deemed the perfect celebratory challenge: it was dubbed ‘The Emancipation Run’.
Despite being a success, the event didn’t run again until 1927, when it was revived as an annual motoring event – the organisers intentionally tried to recreate as much as possible of the original run.
The Royal Automobile Club took over organisation in 1930 and it has ran every year up to World War II, and every year apart from 1947, when it was halted by petrol rationing – although it is said that one enthusiast did actually use up his petrol ration to undertake the run...
The 1953 film Genevieve was set on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – and Genevieve (the 1904 Darracq which is the star of the film) still actually takes part in the event each year: she’s a popular sight for the thousands of onlookers.d
2016 is the 120th anniversary of the original Emancipation Run, which itself was held in November: for decades, the date of the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run now supported by Hiscox has been fixed as the first Sunday in November. More recently, it’s formed the highlight of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week, including the Regent Street Motor Show.
This year, organisers expect more than 400 cars to take part, including 14 German-built cars to mark 130 years since Karl Benz presented the world’s first motor car. And what’s the single condition of entry for all vehicles? Simply, they must have been built before 1905…
What does this year’s itinerary and route look like?
The itinerary and route for this year's run, held on Sunday 6 November, are elegantly simple. It starts at sunrise in Hyde Park, London, and follows the A23 down to Brighton.
Although not a part of the original run, there is an official stop in Crawley, the official finish line is on Brighton seafront’s Madeira Drive for the famous photo finish .
Organisers stress it’s not a race to the finish, and thus don’t publish finish times and orders. Indeed, competitors are not allowed to exceed an average of 20mph (which would be ambitious anyway in a vintage car…). There is a medal for those who finish before 1630h though. Lots break down en route.
Who is taking part?
The open invitation to German manufacturers for 2016’s run has been warmly received, and this year cars from ultra-rare and long-forgotten brands such as Adler, Delin and Cudell will be among those lining up early on Sunday 6 November.
Naturally, there’s a strong selection of Benz and Mercedes vehicles: the Alldemeiner Schnauferl Club, one of the world’s oldest motoring clubs, is bringing along an 1898 Benz Victoria and an 1898 Benz Phaeton.
The official Mercedes-Benz Museum is bringing along two of its own exhibits: a 1901 Benz Spider and a 1902 Mercedes Simplex.
Do note, entries for the London to Brighton run predate the combination of Mercedes and Benz into Mercedes-Benz…
Stay tuned for updates
As part of the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week, the RAC will be providing updates on the latest from the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for all the news, pictures and more.