London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run passes through Crawley on the first Sunday in November.
Viewing the Cars
The first cars arrive in Crawley shortly after 8 a.m., having set off from Hyde Park in a staggered start beginning at sunrise. The majority of the cars pass through Crawley between about 8.30 and midday. The final cars generally show up at around 1.30 p.m.
The route follows the A23 with a detour into Crawley town centre. The precise route can vary from year to year depending on traffic and roadworks, but the cars almost always pass along Crawley High Street.
The High Street is probably the best place to see the cars at close quarters, as many of the drivers stop for refreshments there. Crawley High Street is only a short walk from all the town centre car parks and Crawley railway station. See our location page for an interactive map of Crawley.
History of The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
The first London to Brighton car run was organised in 1896 to publicise the Locomotives and Highways Act of 1895, which:
- allowed motor vehicles to travel along the queen’s highway without being preceded by a pedestrian
- increased the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 mph to 14 mph (although the limit was reduced to the far less dangerous 12 mph soon afterwards).
In 1896, only 14 of the 30 starters completed the course. Sixty miles was a long way, and the roads were in poor condition.
In 1927, the Daily Sketch newspaper organised a re-enactment of the original run. The RAC organised the same event in 1930, and has done so every year since then, except during the second world war and in 1947, when petrol rationing made it impractical.
These days, about 500 cars take part in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. The centenary event in 1996 attracted about 680 vehicles.
The event is open to all 3- and 4-wheeled motor vehicles whose construction can be certified to have taken place before 1 January 1905. There is, however, some flexibility, and slightly newer vehicles are occasionally accepted.
For more information about veteran cars, see: