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How we prepare for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

1904-Rover-8hp-1996-1-1-P909Drive a car from London to Brighton. Should be easy enough don’t you think? Well… not if that car is over 118 years old!

This year the Museum will be entering six veteran cars from the collection into the annual London to Brighton run, which takes place on the first Sunday of November. Work is underway on the preparation of the vehicles by the team of technicians in the Museum Restoration Workshop.

Cars of this age differ from modern vehicles in a variety of ways; such as tiller steering, chain drive, total loss oil systems, trembler coil ignition (or buzz coil if you are American), wooden wheels and solid tyres, to name but a few. The skill of the Museum Technician lies in an understanding of the basic engineering principles used in the early cars and developing a feeling for the way the car is running.


One of the most important parts of the preparation is a thorough nut and bolt check. These cars tend to vibrate a lot from the engine and, coupled with the road bumps travelling up through the cart-like suspension, it leads to all sorts of things working loose and sometimes even falling off.

When all is checked and we are happy with the way the car is running, we put them through a MoT test to have a second pair of eyes check the safety aspects of the car.


Prior to the event, all drivers, experienced or not, are taught the complex starting procedure of their particular car and also take a driving lesson with one of our technicians. Hand throttles, brake and clutch pedals the wrong way round, hand signals, and various knobs and switches for oil control are all part of the driving experience.

On the Friday before the run, the cars are loaded on to a transporter bound for London and at 6am on Sunday morning the cars set off on the 56 mile scenic drive from London to Brighton