The second-running of the Royal Automobile Club’s evocative Summer Run (Thursday 20 July) has been hailed as an even greater success than last July’s very well-received inaugural event.
The Summer Run was introduced 12 months ago to provide owners and drivers of these wonderful pre-1905 machines with the perfect opportunity to enjoy their cars in noticeably warmer and more relaxed surroundings than often experienced on the annual RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run which, as tradition dictates, always takes place on the first Sunday in November.
As a welcome warm-up to the world renowned capital-to-coast celebration of the original 1896 Emancipation Run, this year’s second summertime homage to early motoring was again based at the Club’s beautiful Woodcote Park clubhouse near Epsom.
However, to provide an increased field of 30 eager participants with an enhanced driving experience, the day's driving route was extended to a 54-mile tour through the largely traffic-free highways and byways of rural Surrey and West Sussex.
After gathering under bright blue skies on the Cedar Lawn, a full-capacity field of 30 intrepid veterans set out through the Woodcote Park gates at one minute intervals. First to leave was the oldest car – a venerable single-cylinder 1899 De Dion Bouton vis-à-vis – followed by a captivating cavalcade of Cadillac, Daimler, Napier, Peugeot and Renault models each and every one dating right back more than a century to the dawn of motoring. Less familiar marques such as Argyll, Dennis, Gladiator, MMC, Mors, Norfolk and Rambler were also represented in the warm July sunshine.
From there, the dazzling parade of horseless carriages headed south through the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and on through the quiet, charming villages of Brockham, Charlwood and Rusper towards a leisurely lunch stop at Gildings Barns in the scenic countryside near Newdigate.
Once refreshed, the field travelled back towards Woodcote Park via the leafy lanes of the picturesque Mole Valley. With the sun shining throughout, large numbers of spectators lined the wayside, revelling in the amazing sights and sounds of these extraordinary petrol and steam powered vehicles from long-gone Victorian and Edwardian times.
Once back in the tranquility of Woodcote Park, crews of all ages shared their special experiences with like-minded devotees over tea; many staying on for a celebratory dinner in the atmospheric Motor House, home to the Club’s heritage fleet.
“What a perfect day,” beamed Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. “This was the English summer at its very best: blue skies, beautiful villages and some very, very special old cars for all to admire. I’ve been lucky enough to have driven cars of many great eras but none are as well received by on-lookers as these magical, century old machines. All those marvelling really appreciate the fact that these cars are all so very different with their glittering brass and the stunning bodywork. Judging by the huge grins on all the faces, everyone has had a fantastic day behind the wheel.”
Cussons also praised the many volunteer marshals who ensured safe and smooth passage through the country lanes and trickier road junctions along the way.