Despite setting off from the heart of London on 5 November, this year’s Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is set to adopt a distinctly French flavour.
While Germany’s Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz developed the world’s first horseless carriage, it was French manufacturers that dominated the early days of motoring. That rich history will be celebrated at this year’s event with a dazzling entry of French veterans, ranging from household names such as Renault and Peugeot through to much rarer machinery.
Among the French veterans poised to tackle the 60-mile challenge is the sole surviving Créanche. Built by Société Louis Créanche of Coubevoie, Seine, the 1900 machine is largely original, including its single-cylinder De Dion engine. The body is an exact replica constructed in 1972.
The Créanche will be joined by an 1896 Raynaud vis-á-vis, which may also be the last of its type. The car, which features advanced wheel rather than tiller steering, was discovered in southern France in 1975 and, bar a repaint and new tyres is completely original.
Meanwhile, Renault engineers are busy putting the finishing touches to the restoration of a 1900 Type C. New gearbox parts are being cast, while brake components and the rear axle are being prepared not by a mechanic, but rather a blacksmith! It is hoped the works will be completed in time for the run.
The field of entrants will be bolstered by better known De Dion Boutons, Panhard Lavassors, Mors and Clement and Bolides, while a patriotically named Napoleon is also poised to take the start.