On 7 November 2021, 286 cars took to the road to mark the 125th anniversary of the RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. The event started in 1896 when a group of driving enthusiasts made the journey to celebrate the speed limit rising from 4mph to 14mph. Amongst the entries were South Africans Dave Alexander and Di Dugmore in an 1899 four-cylinder Panhard. This year’s entries also included cars from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland as well as 10 from the United States.
In total, 87 different marques ranging from Albion and Alldays to Winton and Wolseley were represented – some, like Cadillac, Renault, Vauxhall and Mercedes, still well-known today, but the vast majority lost to history.
The first batch of the pre-1905 horseless carriages – the earliest of the Victorian ‘light locomotive’ vehicles – led the 286-strong cavalcade as they passed through Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace, Admiralty Arch and Whitehall into Parliament Square. Half of the participants followed the traditional A23 route past Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham Common; the other half journeyed via Lambeth Bridge and then through Vauxhall, Clapham Common and Tooting.
The two routes then merged on the A236 just north of Croydon with the entire cavalcade reunited within the South Downs before finishing at Madeira Drive on the seafront in Brighton. Of 286 starters, 235 cars crossed the finishing line and collected a coveted finisher’s medal.