PRESS RELEASE 02/10/2013


Veteran born in 1902 joins young students for an annual outing from capital to coast 

He might be more than 110 years old, but that doesn’t stop Bo making an annual trip to the seaside with a group of students in their 20s. And he’s been doing it for more than 80 years.

But then Bo – short for Boanerges – is no ordinary centurion. In fact he’s a 1902 James & Browne 9hp, one of only two James & Browne cars thought to be left in the world.

Bo is owned by the Imperial College in London and each year a team of engineering students ensure he’s fit for the annual 60-mile Veteran Car Run from London to Brighton before they jump aboard and drive him down themselves.

It’s a ritual that’s being going since the late-1920s when the rare veteran was bought by the university as an engineering project for students. During Fresher’s week every September, Bo sits proudly outside the College’s Queen’s Tower enticing new recruits to enrol in that year’s Veteran Car Run team.

The new recruits then join a few old hands preparing Bo for the November outing. Driving from London to Brighton is usually entrusted to a second or third year student with some experience of Bo’s idiosyncrasies… 

“Actually, it takes two people to drive Bo,” says Dr Shaun Crofton, Senior Tutor at Imperial’s Engineering Department and Bo’s guardian. “One looks after the steering, brakes and gears while the front seat passenger is responsible for the throttle and the ignition advance and retard.”

“It might sound a little dangerous but actually it’s a fine example of how teamwork can get the job done.”Although among the youngest taking part in the world’s oldest motoring event, the students get into the spirit of the Run by donning blazers, ties and top hats come rain or shine… and despite the car’s complete lack of weather protection.

“Some of them might wear waterproofs underneath, but that’s poor form if you ask me,” laughs Crofton, who owns two veterans of his own and will be taking part, as usual, this year in his 1900 single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton vis-à-vis.

The name Boanerges comes from the bible (Mark 3:17) and means ‘Son of Thunder’. It was the name given by Jesus to Disciples James and John, describing them as vociferous preachers. Bo himself is far from quiet…

Built in Hammersmith, the James & Browne arrived at Imperial College in November 1925 to replace ‘Old Bo’, a 1908 Rover that was too young to take part in the Veteran Car Run, which is open only to cars built up to 31 December 1904.

‘New Bo’ was purchased from a seller in Shropshire for just £30 – it’s worth around £150,000 today – and has taken part in every Run since it arrived at the College, failing to complete the journey just once.

And Old Bo? An eventful life included being dumped outside 10 Downing Street as a protest against the actions of then Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald and a period as a track marshal’s car at the old Crystal Palace race circuit.

Alas the Rover is no more, but it did make a vital contribution to the war effort. During World War II, the Ministry of Aircraft Production’s scrap collection programme saw Old Bo being recycled into aircraft parts.


Media Contact: 

For Veteran Car Run Media: Jonathan Gill or Deborah Tee at the Veteran Car Run Media Office
Tel: 01372 414120 or 07860 563000

For Veteran Car Run Entries: Rebecca Lowman at Goose Communications
Tel: 01483 524 433
Email: mailto:

For more information: Visit the official event website 

Editor's Notes

Veteran Car Run

With its unique atmosphere and camaraderie, the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (staged specifically as a non-profit making veneration) commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896, which celebrated the Locomotives on the Highway Act. The Act raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14mph, and abolished the need for these vehicles to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag. The Emancipation Run was first re-enacted in 1927 and has taken place every November since, with the exception of the war years and 1947 when petrol was rationed. The Royal Automobile Club has managed the run with the support of the Veteran Car Club since 1930

The Royal Automobile Club

Founded in 1897, the Royal Automobile Club's continuous support and promotion of the development of motoring in Great Britain began with the famous 1000 Mile Trial in 1900. In recent years the Club has focused on running annual free-to-spectate motor shows in the country including the Regent Street Motor Show, and the world's oldest motoring event – the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run which will take place on Sunday 3 November 2013. For more information visit:
The Royal Automobile Club also awards a series of historic trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Tourist Trophy, the Simms Medal and the Dewar Trophy. 


Media requiring Accreditation for either the Veteran Car Run or the Regent Street Motor Show should email requests directly to Evidence of previous coverage would assist your application. A limited number of passenger seats are available for key media wishing to experience the full appeal of the unique Veteran Car Run.    

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