The Premier Model F, a car so rare only two examples are known to exist, will make its London to Brighton Run debut at this year’s event.
This 16hp rear-entrance tonneau has an air-cooled four-cylinder L-head engine and two-speed sliding gear transmission, plus full elliptic leaf-spring suspension and rear mechanical brakes – specs which would have made it one of the most technologically advanced cars of its time.
With the only other surviving Model F, a twin-cylinder vehicle, residing in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, this year’s Bonhams London to Brighton Run on 4 November represents what could be a unique opportunity to see it in the UK.
The Premier Motor Manufacturing Company was formed in Indianapolis in 1903, with the Model F arriving the following year.
Favouring quality over quantity from the start, Premier’s cars were more expensive than most: the Model F would have set you back $1400 in 1904, which equates to around $40,000 today.
For that sum, though, you’d have got quite the car. Contemporary advertisements described the Model F’s four-cylinder air-cooled motor as being of 16hp and of reaching the heady heights of 40mph. They also promoted the fact that it could cover 182 miles on its 10-gallon tank.
This example was ‘discovered’ in the 1980s, in decent mechanical condition but in clear need of a spruce up. The new owner duly embarked on a restoration project that involved the construction of a fresh body in Brewster Green with ‘canary’ running gear, and a rear-entrance tonneau body.
In 1999, an application was made to the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain for its dating and by June 2000 a date of 1904 was confirmed. Despite the paperwork having been completed, though, it never actually travelled to the UK for the London to Brighton Run – until now.
Put up for sale at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction last year, it was bought by businessman Steven Haines for the substantial figure of £256,684 ($341,000). And Haines immediately decided that he wanted to make the trip across the Atlantic with it.
“It’s always been on my bucket list to have a car that’s eligible for the Run,” explained Haines, who collects brass-era cars from his own Indiana state.
“I came once before as a passenger, but this will be my first time driving my own car. I remember Hyde Park was beautiful and sunny but, by the time we got to Brighton, it was pouring down with rain and I don’t think I’ve ever been colder in my life! But it was still fun and that’s why I’m now really looking forward to coming back.”
The Model F will also be on show at the Regent Street Motor Show Concours d’Elegance the day before the Run (3 November), but it’s the road-trip itself that Haines is really excited about.
“It’s fun to drive and really gets up and goes! It accelerates surprisingly quick and boasts some good torque,” he added.
In all, more than 400 pre-1905 cars will take place in this year’s Run. You can find out more information about the event here.