From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury - A social calendar for the 21st century
The RAC London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
03 November, 2013
Hyde Park Corner, London to Marine Parade, Brighton
The longest-running motoring event in the world gives spectators the chance to see an array of extraordinary veteran cars making a rare foray onto the streets.
Run by the Royal Automobile Club, this high-spirited event on the first Sunday of November brings more than 500 owners of pre-1905 cars from all over the world to make the 60-mile (96-km) run from London's Hyde Park to the Brighton seafront. Many cars are shipped specially for the event from as far afield as the States and New Zealand.
The rally came into being in 1896, in the form of an Emancipation Run celebrating the Locomotives on the Highway Act, which raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' from 4 mph to 14 mph and abolished the need for these vehicles to be preceded by a person on foot waving a red flag. The next Run, in 1927, re-enacted the first; the event was henceforth annual, with the exception of the Second World War years. Sometimes celebrities, including Royals, take part.
On the Friday preceding the rally, auction house Bonham's stages an auction of veteran cars that are eligible to join in the event, as well as automobiles, while on the eve of the rally a concourse in Regent Street showcases more than 100 of the cars, and some of the vehicles make demonstration runs along Conduit Street and around Berkeley Square.
Spectating is free all along the route of the veteran car run: Norbury, Croydon, Purley, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick, Crawley, Cuckfield, Burgess Hill and then towns and villages en route to Brighton. More than a million spectators line this route, so it is essential to arrive early to get a good view.
Once the cars arrive in Brighton they make their way through the
town to Marine Parade, cheered on by crowds of well-wishers. They
park on the seafront, where owners and members of the public admire
the veteran vehicles.
Cars begin leaving Hyde Park Corner in twos at sunrise (just before 7am) and travel at about 20 mph (32 km/h), with the first vehicles arriving at Brighton's seafront Marine Parade at 10am and the last puttering in at around 4.30pm.