Close to 300 pioneering veteran cars dating back to the dawn of motoring have already entered this year’s very special staging of the Royal Automobile Club’s magical RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday 7 November.
The historic pilgrimage from capital to coast commemorates the famous Emancipation Run of 1896 which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotive on the Highway Act, raising the speed limit for self-propelled locomotives from 4mph to 14mph and thus heralding the advent of the motor car.
Now, exactly 125 years on, what is the world’s oldest motoring event will be honouring the milestone 125th anniversary of that first epoch-making ‘Motor Car Tour to Brighton’ as the original event was billed.
Despite its significance, records of that very first Run are somewhat sketchy. It is believed that 33 of the 54 entries published in the programme actually set out (after a breakfast including wine) in atrocious weather from London’s Hôtel Métropole, and around 16 of those starters are said to have taken part in the finishers’ parade in Brighton.
One of these, though, an electric car with limited range, is known to have travelled by rail and subsequently been splashed with mud to complete the deception! Thankfully, today’s records are rather better documented and a roster of early entries already confirmed for 2021 can be found on the official www.veterancarrun.com website.
The Run is open to four-wheeled cars, tri-cars and motor tricycles built before 1 January 1905 and in possession of a valid Dating Certificate issued by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain or a valid VCC Veteran Passport.
More than speeding up the introduction of motorised vehicles, the momentous Emancipation Run symbolised the freedom of the open road and dawn of the global automobile industry.