The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run takes place on Sunday 5 November 2023 — and believe us, it is quite the sight! Here's what you need to know about spectating at this historic event.
What is the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run?
The world's-longest running motoring event — which, as its name suggests, heads from central London down to Brighton — started out life in 1896, as the 'Emancipation Run'. This celebrated the Locomotives on Highways Act of that year, which scrapped the need for a person to walk in front of the car with a red flag, and raised the speed limit from 4mph to 14mph. The car run stopped after 1903, but was revived in 1927 — and has taken place most years since. Vehicles must have been built pre-1905 in order to take part, so are primitive by today's standards — and quite beautiful to look at.
What kind of vehicles will I see?
All sorts! An incredible array of over 400 vehicles take part — including open topped Daimlers, Benzs, Darracqs, Peugeots, Napiers... basically anything that looks vaguely like the car Mr Toad speeds about in, in The Wind in the Willows. You might also see the odd fire truck, Harrods van ... even a penny farthing or two! Feast your eyes on the entry list here.
What time does it start?
Vehicles begin to set off from Hyde Park from 7am on Sunday 5 November, although it can take almost two hours for all of them to get going. (And invariably, some of them don't get going at all.) From here, they head southward, via either the A3 or A23. Depending where you live, it might be easier to catch the cars en route to Brighton; among the London locations they pass through are Brixton, Balham, Streatham, Tooting, Mitcham, Croydon, Purley and Coulsdson. Here's a route guide, with some rough arrival times.
Should I wave as the cars go past?
That's what it's all about! Bear in mind, it's early in the morning on an (often wet) November morning, so the people driving/riding in these open-topped vehicles — with little more than a blanket to keep them warm — need all the encouragement they can get! With luck, you'll get hundreds of smiles, waves — and a good number of beeps too. If you've got kids, they'll be in their element.
I thought the Veteran Car Run took place in the summer?
There's also a summer Veteran Car Run, which was introduced recently, and features far fewer cars. And not forgetting the London to Brighton Classic Car Rally, which sets off from Brooklands Museum (which is, in fact, just outside London) early each summer, and features cars that are still pretty old, but not old enough to not have roofs.
What else do I need to know?
The 2023 programme is available online — so any more questions you have should be answered in here, or otherwise on the official Veteran Car Run website. You might not need to know this, but in 1971, none other than Queen Elizabeth II took part in the run (she wasn't driving, however). If you're looking for a fun family-friendly film to watch, try Genevieve, a lighthearted comedy from 1953, which features a lot of competitors laughing at other competitors who've broken down at the side of the road (We're sure this doesn't happen IRL.)
London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, Sunday 5 November 2023 from 7am