This year’s Royal Automobile Club London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, which celebrates the passing into law of the Locomotive on the Highway Act that raised the speed limit for self-propelled locomotives in England from 4mph to 14mph, will be a very special one, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the first ‘Motor Car Tour to Brighton’, the famous Emancipation Run of 1896
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, an electric car with limited range, is known to have travelled by rail and subsequently been splashed with mud to complete the deception!
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, with manufacturers such as Mercedes, Cadillac, Ford, Renault and Peugeot still familiar on our roads today, while others such as Century, Crestmobile, Elmore, Gladiator, Napoleon, Rexette and Minerva have fallen by the wayside.
The Run is open to four-wheeled cars, tri-cars and motor tricycles built before 1 January 1905, and close to 300 of these pioneering veterans, representing more than 50 early automotive brands, have already signed up for this year’s very special edition, to be held, as tradition dictates, on Sunday 7 November. Moreover, more than 100 have also registered for the previous day’s Veteran Car Concours, a highlight of The Regent Street Motor Show set on the capital’s famous shopping destination. See www.veterancarrun.com for all the details of ‘London Car Week,’ which culminates in the Brighton Run.