The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run has a history of drawing a galaxy of stars to take part in its annual 60-mile adventure, but few have embraced the event with as much gusto as Formula One engineer and former team boss Ross Brawn. He participated in the event for the first time last year in a 1904 Wilson-Pilcher, which was bought at the event’s Bonhams auction, and will be returning to experience the new and improved course at this year’s 1 November event.
“It was a tremendous experience,” said Brawn. “I was just staggered and impressed by the support the event gets from the public – they love it. Even though the weather wasn’t great, the number of people out waving and cheering was really enjoyable and impressive.”
“Driving the car for the 60 miles was completely novel. I’d had some lessons from someone who knew what they were doing, but driving that far was certainly an undertaking. It was nice to challenge myself with something different – normally I’m watching someone else do the driving!”
Brawn will be tackling this year’s event in the same 1904 Wilson-Pilcher, and has been busy preparing it for the run. The British-built car is thought to be the only survivor of the marque and features a host of innovative features, including a water-cooled 2.7-litre flat-four 12/16hp engine, plus a novel transmission fitted with dual epicyclic gears.
“It appealed to me because of the history of Walter Wilson, who designed the car,” explained Brawn. “Wilson was one of the most innovative engineers of his era and went on to design a WWI tank and the famous Wilson pre-selector gearbox. You just look at the car and there are so many interesting engineering concepts. They didn’t have the materials or the methods that exist now, but what they achieved within the limitations they had is just staggering. Every time I look around the car, or do something to it, I discover something new that really impresses me. It’s a great car.”
In addition to taking part in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the engineering mastermind will be making an appearance at Classic & Sports Car – The London Show, which takes place 30 October-1 November. Brawn will be among a host of stars that will be interviewed by Henry Hope-Frost on the event’s Live Stage. Click here to order your tickets.