London to Brighton… well nearly….

Posted on 6 November 2012

View on Thursday, buy on Friday, check on Saturday and drive on Sunday....Thornley Kelham assist in the purchase and use of a 1900 Darracq

The Royal Automobile Club's London to Brighton Veteran Run is one of the most significant and well-known motoring events in the world. ‘The Run’ takes place each year on the first Sunday in November and includes 500 vehicles all built before 1st January 1905.

A good client and great friend of the team at Thornley Kelham had expressed serious interest in taking part in the event some months ago. Robert was charged with finding a suitable car as well as organising the logistics of buying the car and participating on the event.

The schedule went something like this…..

Thursday 1st: Robert met the client at Bonhams to view a 1900 Darracq 6½hp Rear Entrance Tonneau - one of around 100 of this particular model built. It is the oldest one of its type registered by the VCC (Veteran Car Club), and still sports its original 4-seater coachwork.

Having viewed the car with the client Robert carried out all the necessary checks on the provenance of the car while sending detailed images back to the workshop team at TK to assist in checking over the car.

Friday 2nd: Robert successfully bid for the car on behalf of the client, also securing an entry for the 2012 London to Brighton Run….

Saturday 3rd:  The car was delivered to the Thornley Kelham workshop for a very brief check over (all that time permitted) and test run before returning to London.

So very early on Sunday morning (4th) Hyde Park in November: It’s cold, it’s dark and it’s raining as the car is unloaded from the transporter with another rather famous Darracq – namely Genevieve!

Paul and Robert accompanied the owner and his (brave) teenage son and managed a half-mile driving lesson before the start! 

Torrential rain marked the first few hours, and all on board realized clothes are never actually waterproof… Frequent minor breakdowns on the newly acquired Darracq gave opportunity to wring out gloves and hats, and to warm gauntlets until steaming, on the water tank.  However, when running well, the car achieved 30 mph with four up, and felt truly exhilarating… especially when fully reliant on only a mechanical transmission brake to stop safely - in the wet!

Bacon sandwiches and coffee kept spirits high but, finally, after almost 5 hours travelling in the 112-year old ‘brass beauty,’ the team had to admit defeat with an engine breakdown less than 20 miles from Brighton. (The total run is over 60 miles) The support truck picked the car up and left the team with a boring modern car to get home in.

The seat heaters in the modern were turned to the maximum on the way home to ensure that feeling returned to the extremities, and damp clothes dried out.

A waste of time you perhaps ask? Not for a single moment! The client and the team can’t wait for next year!

Our apologies for the slightly misty and out of focus pictures, but we were on a wobbly open car in the pouring rain amd couldn't fit Ashley in the car.. 


For further information about this fabulous and important event please visit:

For further information about Veteran cars in general and to join the club please visit:

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