The 2013 London to Brighton Run
Myself and several members of the Black Country Living Museum’s Vehicle Volunteer Group, participated in the 2013 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, on the Black Country Living Museum's 1903 Sunbeam 10/12 Tourer. The prestigious event, which was held on 3rd November, is organised by the Royal Automobile Club, and is the world's longest-running vintage car event. It first took place in 1896, and covers a 60 mile-long course from Hyde Park in central London, to the seafront at Brighton. The vintage run regularly attracts several hundred of the finest examples of cars built before 1905, and is possibly the world's greatest event that celebrates the early years of motoring.

What follows is a report of our successful completion of the course, during an interesting and challenging day.

The Sunbeam car at the NEC, after successfully completing a road trial.

The members of the group participating in the car were Brian Rollings,  Ken Norton, Ray Salisbury, and Peter Yates.

The back-up vehicle was driven by David Beere.

On Sunday morning we left our Hotel in West Sussex at 4 am and arrived at Hyde Park at just after 5.30 am. After the car was taken off the transport trailer, we attempted to start the engine, which sadly failed.

Ken Norton and Ray Salisbury quickly removed the Bonnet and proceeded to clean the Sparking Plugs.

The Carburettor was given a squirt of easy start and she burst into life. The car was then driven to our starting location in Section 9, at the side of the Serpentine, in good time for the start.
At 6 minutes before our start time, the marshall told us to start up and be ready for the off, to our relief the engine started without any problems.

We set off more or less on time, passing through Marble Arch, past Buckingham Palace, and then over Westminster Bridge, and out of London. The traffic was quite difficult and it was stressful making sure that we had enough stopping distance due the car’s relatively poor braking ability.

Passing Buckingham Palace, shortly after the start.

The Sunbeam was running well at this stage, but had a tendency for the clutch to be rather fierce. This became progressively worse, and resulted in some kangaroo starts, which amused the general public. The problem could have been resolved by oiling the cone clutch, however it was decided that if this was done we may have trouble ascending the two hills that would come later in the run.

Just before the Crawley halfway point, we stopped at a garage for fuel, by which time about half a tank had been used. On reaching Crawley, we checked-in. The water was checked, and about a litre was added. Luckily everything else was fine. After this we started-off on the last part of the run. The car climbed the two hills without any problem, with all of us on board, also with no signs of the engine overheating. At the top of Hammer Hill we were applauded by the crowd as we reached the summit. This was pleasing as we expected that at least three of us would have to walk up the hill.

About two miles after the last climb, a screeching noise was coming from under the car, after stopping it was found that the centre of the exhaust pipe had separated from the silencer. Ray Salisbury dived under the car and re-joined the two pipes, and we were soon on our way again.  About 15 minutes later there was a clattering noise coming from the engine. We again stopped, the bonnet was removed, and it was found that the guard over the timing gears had come loose. The guard, which had been distorted, was removed, and we were soon moving again.

After these two minor repairs, no further problems occurred. We checked-in at Preston Park, and then proceeded onwards through Brighton. Just after the check-in, we missed a turn and went slightly off course. A policeman came over to us, and expressed his surprise that we had taken a wrong turn at this stage of the event. He said “Stay in the bus lane, and it will take to the sea front.”

The jubilant team at the end of the run.

Left to right:

Ray Salisbury, Peter Yates, Brian Rollings, and Ken Norton.

The car on the seafront, surrounded by the team, at the end of a job well done.

Left to right:

Brian Rollings, Ken Norton, Peter Yates, and Ray Salisbury.

It was a tremendous feeling of excitement and satisfaction as we passed under the finish banner, at 12.45 pm, our time from the start being 5 hours 10 minutes, including a stop of about 45 minutes.

Our special thanks must go to the Black Country Living Museum for allowing us to use the car, and their financial support. Also to the following sponsors

The Marston Trust, Autotek Lichfield Ltd, Bev Parker, the late David Evans, Sylvia Rollings, and the members of the Black Country Living Museum Vehicle Volunteer Group.

Also a special thanks to David Beere, who supported us with the recovery vehicle.

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