Thursday, 9 November 2017

A Great Way to Close 2017's London Motor Week

Last week we told you that the theme of this year's Regent Street Motor Show was Route 66, and despite a damp start to the day, this year's show was very popular. Once again, the capital's premier shopping destination was transformed into the country's biggest free-to-view motor show. 

The famed street was closed to through traffic for the first Saturday in November and the road was filled with a glittering collection from the past, the present and the future. In addition to Enjoy Illinois' stand promoting the Mother Road, the penultimate event of London Motor Week featured close to 200 vehicles from the days of the horseless carriage, through the classic years right up to the battery and hydrogen-powered cars we will all be driving in the future.

Taking centre stage at the Show, though, were around 100 pioneers dating back to the dawn of motoring – all built before 1905. Among those judging the evocative veteran machines this year was renowned gardener and classic car enthusiast Alan Titchmarsh. After much deliberation, the panel of experts awarded the Overall Winner's trophy to the extraordinary dark green 4-cylinder Darracq owned by Malcolm Ginns.

The French car has a remarkable history, having been entered into the ill-fated Paris to Madrid 'race of death' in 1903. More than two million spectators came to watch along the road to Bordeaux, where this notorious race was officially halted as there had been so many fatal accidents en route – the largest toll of dead and injured persons in motor sport, including the death of Marcel Renault. Along with a number of other entrants, the Darracq's owner, Albert Arvengas went on to Madrid. The car remained in the Arvengas family until the 1970s and to this day still carries its original rear-entrance, tonneau body with five seats.

Further up Regent Street, and bringing the motoring story up to date, were displays of modern cars and bikes from companies including Renault and Triumph. Not content with the present, Go Ultra Low was looking to the future by offering drives in a wide range of contemporary battery-powered electric vehicles and plug-in petrol-electric hybrids from manufacturers including BMW, Renault, VW, Toyota, Kia, and Hyundai. Experts were also on hand to offer advice to anyone considering a zero or low emission and hybrid car as their next purchase. Visitors were also offered a short 'taster' test drive,  allowing them to sample the next generation of environmentally friendly transport.

For those with a need for speed, other displays on Regent Street included a preview of the biggest classic motor sport event on the calendar – the Silverstone Classic. It's stand not only included a huge screen broadcasting highlights from last summer's record-breaking event, but also three of the stand-out racers that will be in action next July. 

Motoring's classic years, meanwhile, were represented by Fiat 500 Club celebrating the 60th birthday of Italy's iconic city car with a colourful collection of original superminis including a rare Giardiniera and 500 Saloon. Closer to Piccadilly Circus, another very special display paid homage to London-built Talbots from the twenties and thirties. 

As is tradition, to mark the end of London Motor Week, the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run took place on Sunday. More than 400 pioneering veteran cars, their drivers and passengers gathered in Hyde Park waiting for daybreak to signal the start of the annual Run. Acknowledged as the longest running motoring event in the world, it was fitting that the sun rose in a blue sky as participants headed off for a nostalgic drive to the Sussex coast. One of the cars participating was the famous Genevieve, from the film of the same name. Genevieve, now owned by the Louwman Museum, is a regular and popular participant in the Run.

It's Genevieve!

This years Run featured the largest entry in recent years; staged, as it has been since 1930, by the Royal Automobile Club. Although a number of cars were diverted following a road traffic accident involving one of the participants vehicles, 315 of the 401 starters made it to Brighton to claim a coveted finishers' medal. 

In recent years the Chopard Regularity Trial has introduced an additional interesting element to the Run. This year's winner was Robert Abrey, driving a 1899 Daimler, who was awarded with a Chopard Millie Miglia Chronograph worth £4950.

This year's Veteran Car Run marked 121 years since the original Emancipation Run, which was held in 1896 to celebrate the Locomotive on the Highway Act. This raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' from 4mph to 14mph and abolished the need for a man to walk ahead waving a red flag. First commemorated in 1897 with a re-enactment following the same route in 1927, the event has taken place every November since, apart form the war years and 1947 when petrol was rationed.

For more information on the Regent Street Motor Show and the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, check out there respective websites. 

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