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London to BrightonThe annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is a remarkable homage to the dawn of driving that boasts huge appeal, attracting entrants from around the globe, all eager to participate in what is the world’s longest running and greatest motoring celebration.

It’s a unique event – always staged on the first Sunday in November – that catches the imagination of royalty and personalities from the world of television, stage, music and sport. For everyone involved, though, it’s a rare opportunity to experience a ride in one of these extraordinary pre-1905 automobiles on the famous 60-mile run from Hyde Park in central London to the seafront in the Sussex resort of Brighton.

Nick Mason, however, is one famous face who has become a Veteran Car Run regular. Indeed, the Pink Floyd drummer and renowned car enthusiast is such a strong devotee that he acquired his very own pre-1905 veteran car specifically to partake in the amazing showcase that features up to than 500 vehicles from the motoring’s very earliest days.

“It sounds bizarre getting up at the crack of dawn on what’s usually a really rather cold November morning but it’s great to run these old cars,” explains Mason who drives a 5-litre 1901 Panhard. “It’s a real thrill to get these old machines working and to get them down to Brighton.”

Mason has a pretty good record of completing the course, too. “I think we’ve now finished 17 out of 20 times,” he continues. “We actually had a couple of failures earlier on mainly due to punctures and a faulty wheel but once we sorted that the car has been pretty reliable, touch wood.

“It’s actually a very good ‘old’ car with some very advanced things for the period such as a steering wheel rather than a tiller! It’s also got a big engine and is terrific in terms of power considering its age. It was almost certainly originally built as a race car. Consequently, when other people are struggling up the hills, on a good day we can have five passengers aboard and just go for it.”

The Panhard, which Mason found in an American museum where it had been on static display for a considerable length of time, also has other major attractions. “It has this wonderful three piece suite mounted on it which is fantastic for carrying people,” he explains.

Like so many others recreating history on the road to Brighton each November, the musician delights in being part of such a special celebration but admits seeing the English Channel is the biggest highlight of the day. “It’s always fabulous fun just to participate, but it’s always the arrival into Brighton and the feeling of achievement to get the car there which is the biggest thrill.”

Come Sunday 3 November, Mason will doubtless be joined by many other famous faces as this year’s historic Veteran Car Run once again commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896 when 33 pioneering motorists set off from Central London to endure the rough roads en route to Brighton.

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