Jeremy Ross’s family has a long history with the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Our New Business Executive explains why he loves the event.
Buying a new car has it perks and most people have a very specific set of requirements which are deemed essential. Working at GForces, I can understand exactly why new cars are fully loaded with driver conveniences and how including certain attributes or specification improves their saleability.
With this in mind, some people don’t like the concept of buying older cars. Some would even shudder at the concept of buying a 15 year-old car… But how about if the car was 110 years old?
Once a year around 440 cars (with the youngest created in 1904) gather at Hyde Park to travel a mere 60 miles to Brighton, with a pit stop at Crawley, for the Veteran Car Run. Cars of all shapes and sizes (some not even possessing a steering wheel) – all built between 1892 and 1904 – attempt the journey with around half dropping out along the way. Even some everyday manufacturers, recognisable to a modern audience, such as Peugeot, Mercedes and Cadillac are common participants in the run.
Gatwick Honda is the official ‘pit stop’ for the Veteran Car Run, giving the opportunity for the drivers of these historic cars to park up, get out of the rain and enjoy a Harrods coffee and pastry before they carry on to Brighton. You’d think marshalling 440 cars through a dealerships forecourt – some of which are spewing hot oil everywhere and releasing astronomical amounts of petrol fumes – would be a hard task. You’d be right.
Three generations of my family are responsible for managing the pit stops for all these ‘vets’ and combined have had over 30 years’ experience of pushing a large majority of them on their way. At first glance the benefits are pretty scarce as we spend our time jumping out of the way of cars which have brakes made from bubble gum and gears which are near-on impossible to apply – not to mention a PHD in mechanics to even operate. And we do this sacrificing a beloved Sunday lay in, standing in the torrential rain for hours and gaining nothing but a baseball cap along with a sacred pin badge.
However being a marshal for the Veteran Car Run does have its perks; for instance, meeting some familiar faces including Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Paul Hollywood, Sir Ben Ainslie, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Sterling Moss and former Grand Prix team owner Ross Brawn. The main benefit, though, is being able to manoeuvre and ride in rare cars which although are old aren’t exactly cheap. The cars range from £70,000 – £2.9 million which is a lot bearing in mind some of the vehicles have a high tendency to break down and a whopping top speed of 6-20mph. Though in fairness that speed is almost enough for some toupees to end up flying around, littering the route to Brighton.
Ultimately, the Veteran Car Run is a labour of love for everyone involved and a great event that has run for 118 years. We don’t mind the sacrificial Sunday lay-in because it’s a unique event attended by some of the world’s rarest cars. Joining these vehicles and their eccentric range of drivers and owners is a tradition – and one which runs in my family. Long may it continue.