On Friday 2 November Bonhams, a title sponsor of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, will hold an auction of veteran cars and related automobilia at its New Bond Street premises, commencing at 16.00. Of the 14 vehicles to be auctioned, four are eligible for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on the Sunday and come complete with an official entry.
Amongst the notable entries in the sale include Lot 203 – a 1903 Vauxhall 5hp Two-seater Light Car ordered new for Percy Kidner, Vauxhall Managing Director. It is believed to be the world’s oldest known surviving Vauxhall. Vauxhall’s works order book shows that car no. 0335 was ordered on 6th November 1903 for Vauxhall Director, Percy Kidner, at “director’s price”. It is a standard model, liveried in cream with red lining, equipped with a pair of Dietz sidelamps and an acetylene headlamp with generator.
The remarkable history file with the car contains many invoices and records of repair and maintenance during the Bernhardt family ownership, along with Dr. Bernhardt’s driving licence from 1903 and much more. It is the first time this significantly important car has been offered on the open market for 108 years, and is described in the catalogue as having a history that is ‘truly remarkable and represents a landmark car in the history of one of England’s premier motor car manufacturers’. The estimated price is £60,000-£80,000.
Also featured is the 1904 Wilson-Pilcher 12/16hp Four-Cylinder Four-seat Phaeton (Lot 214) – thought to be the sole surviving example of its type and has been owned by its creator’s family since it was built more than a century ago. It is an extremely rare veteran motor car built by an inventor credited with the invention and development of the first tank. This is a British car of innovative design powered by a horizontally opposed, 2.7-litre, four-cylinder, water-cooled engine with ignition by trembler coils. The epicyclical gearbox has pre-selector control of the four forward and four reverse gears.
The vehicle has been displayed in a number of significant museums including The Tank Museum in Dorset, the Coventry Transport Museum, and more recently the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. It has taken part in the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run several times since its first outing in 1952, and features on the rear cover of the official event programme of 1961. The estimated price is £180,000-£220,000. Tim Schofield, Director of the Bonhams UK Motor Car department, said: “This rare car, one of the earliest successes of one of the most important engineers and inventors this country has ever seen, is a fantastic addition to our annual veteran car sale”.
Cars with accepted entries for the Sunday event are a 1900 Darracq 6½hp Four seater Voiturette expected to sell for more than £80,000, a 1903 De Dion Bouton Model Q 6hp Two-Seat Victoria which has completed the last 14 Runs (£60,000+), a 1904 Richard-Brasier Four-Cylinder 16hp Side-Entrance Tonneau made in France (£220,000+) and a pretty blue 1904 Humberette ‘Royal Beeston’ originally owned by Harry Gough of South Yorkshire (£55,000+).
The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run takes place on Sunday 4 November and is the world’s oldest motoring event hosting by the Royal Automobile Club. One hundred and sixteen years since it was first run, the event will feature 500 pre-1905 vehicles (the definition of ‘veteran’) making their way from Hyde Park in London to Madeira Drive, Brighton.
The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run celebrates the Locomotives on Highways Act of 1896, which did away with the requirement for someone to walk 20 yards ahead of vehicles and raised the speed limit to 14 miles per hour (from 4mph on open roads and 2mph in towns). The event is part of a weekend Celebration of Motoring that includes the Future Car Challenge (for low energy use vehicles) and the Regent Street Motor Show (celebrating the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries of motoring).