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26 Sep 2023

Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the game-changing Simms-Bosch Magneto

One of the oldest and most significant partnerships in motoring history is being recharged and celebrated on this year’s RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run which, as tradition dictates, takes place on the first Sunday in November – 5 November in 2023. 
It was in 1898 that automotive pioneer Frederick R. Simms contacted Robert Bosch, a fellow young entrepreneur, with the plan of applying the high-tech Bosch magneto to an automobile. The innovative Simms-Bosch ignition magneto that resulted quickly became a game-changing breakthrough, enabling engine designers finally to precisely time the ignition of fuel and thus permitting emergent motorised vehicles to become everyday transport. 


The revolutionary new product paved the way for Bosch to become one of the world’s premier engineering and technology companies. Simms, too, became a major force in the early days of motoring. As well as manufacturing his own vehicles, he founded both the Automobile Club of Great Britain – later to become the Royal Automobile Club – and the influential Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 
Now, in 2023, Bosch UK and the Royal Automobile Club are teaming up to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the ground-breaking Simms-Bosch magneto. 
Venerating the original collaboration, Bosch has become the official Technical Partner to the 2023 RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – the world’s longest running motoring event reserved for pre-1905 ‘horseless’ vehicles, many fitted with trailblazing Simms-Bosch magnetos. 
Back in 1896, Simms had been one of the intrepid participants who took part in the original Emancipation Run, driving 60-miles from London to Brighton to acclaim the moment an Act of Parliament raised speed limits from 4mph to 14mph thus giving motorised vehicles the freedom of the road. Today’s annual Veteran Car Run, organised by the Royal Automobile Club, commemorates that first run from the capital city to the Sussex seaside resort.
“The historic partnership between Robert Bosch and Frederick Simms was one of the most important in the early days of motorised transport, so we are truly honoured to be rekindling and applauding the landmark affiliation 125 years later,” said Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. “Through Simms, both the Club and Bosch have entwined birth-rights making this renewed collaboration all the more significant and special.” 

Further fuelling the 125th anniversary celebrations, Bosch is also enthusiastically supporting a number of the Royal Automobile Club's other motoring focused activities in 2023 including London Motor Week (30 October-4 November) which features a display and reception in the Houses of Parliament on 31 October.  

Igniting the partnership earlier in the summer, a special cavalcade of classic cars – all equipped with original Bosch components – travelled from the Royal Automobile Club’s prestigious clubhouse on Pall Mall to a site on Tottenham Court Road where a special blue plaque was unveiled marking the building which the embryonic Bosch Magneto Company built in 1913. 
Accompanying the evocative cavalcade, the Club’s rotunda housed the chain-driven 1900 Simms from its own Heritage Fleet alongside a diminutive Peugeot Type BP1 Bébé, the Ettore Bugatti designed icon dating back to 1913 which came with ingenious Bosch ignition. The two-car showcase was supported by several information boards highlighting the significant historical ties between the Club and Bosch.   
“It was the magneto ignition system that launched Robert Bosch’s engineering company on its way to becoming the world-leading organisation it is today from its humble origins in Stuttgart,” said Vonjy Rajakoba, Managing Director of Bosch UK. 
“Together with Simms, Robert Bosch opened his first overseas company in Store Street, London in 1898. Since then, Bosch has pioneered many motoring technologies including anti-lock brakes and airbags, and today we’re at the forefront of the advanced software and semiconductor technology that makes driving as safe as it has ever been and will move us towards increasingly automated driving. There’s no better way to celebrate this history than by partnering the Royal Automobile Club and its legendary RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 2023.”   

For more information about Bosch UK’s 125th anniversary, visit





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