From before sunrise on Sunday, 5 November, London’s Hyde Park will be full of the sights, sounds and smells of the dawn of motoring, as 400 intrepid drivers ready themselves and their pioneering machines for the annual RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
Then, following the symbolic tearing up of the red flag, as the sun rises at 7:00am all the participants will set off on the historic 60-mile journey to the Sussex coast.
First away this year will be two very special movie star cars. It is now exactly 70 years since the BAFTA-winning film Genevieve first hit the silver screens and, to mark that milestone, the eponymously named Darracq and the Spyker from the much-loved comedy caper have been reunited specially for this year’s Run.
Behind them the evocative field of two-, three- and four-wheelers will all head south through Wellington Arch. The majority of the pre-1905 pioneers are petrol-driven but include a few powered by steam, and even some very early electric vehicles! Moreover, with an eye on the future, this year increasing numbers of the veterans are running on sustainable biofuels.
Some of the 100+ makes represented such as Chevrolet, Ford, Renault, Peugeot and Mercedes will be familiar to today’s motorists. But there are plenty of long forgotten marques too: Mors, De Dion Bouton, Covert, Alldays and Gladiator to name but a few.
The oldest car lining up in Hyde Park – and thus one of the first to leave – is a plucky Peugeot dating back to around 1892, entered by The National Automobile Museum in Turin, Italy. More than 50 of this year’s entries hail from Europe, while others are travelling from America, Hong Kong and Australia to be part of this world-famous occasion.
Adding to the spectacle, a number of veteran cycles and motorcycles are also now invited to join the Run. This includes eye-catching penny-farthings and the legendary 1903 Dreadnought, hailed as the first motorbike built for competition.
“There is nothing else like the RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run,” explained Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club, organiser since 1930 of what’s become the world’s longest-established motoring event since 1930.
“Now in its 127th year, it is an extraordinary showcase celebrating the introduction of motorised transport, and the pleasures and freedoms that the new technology introduced.
“2023 marks 70 years of the film Genevieve, which follows two couples participating in the London to Brighton in a Darracq – the titular Genevieve – and a Spyker. Thanks to the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands, we are delighted to welcome both cars back to the Run this year. They will be a glorious and evocative sight to look out for on the road,” enthused Cussons who will be driving a 1901 Mors (reg RAC 1) entered by the Royal Automobile Club.