In stark contrast to their history of competing in touring cars with modern machinery, Vauxhall is entering two cars for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
Vauxhall – that British builder of iconic cars such as the Corsa, Astra, and Vectra – has an extensive history of automobile production that is rarely celebrated, with over 14 million vehicles built in 115 years. At this year’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, taking place next Sunday, two of the company’s oldest vehicles, one from its founding year of 1903, will be taking part.
Recognised as the second-oldest surviving Vauxhall car, the 1903 ‘5HP’ will take on the whole 60-mile route, having last done so in 2015, and will be co-driven by Vauxhall’s managing director Steve Norman and former communications director Denis Chick.
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The 5HP is the 45th vehicle to be built by the company, but all but one of the models that left the factory prior have since been lost to scrap and disrepair. It’s a rare four-seat model, with the water-cooled 983cc engine positioned under the passengers, who bizarrely sit in front of the driver, rather than behind.
It was bought and restored by Vauxhall Heritage 20 years ago, having started life in the hands of a Scottish shipbuilder, and has turned up to the Veteran Car Run – an event dedicated to pre-1905 machinery – on several occasions. Although being rear wheel drive, with an epicyclic gearbox and chain drive, it’s only capable of 20mph.
In 1904 Vauxhall went radical and made the 6HP, with a 1-litre water-cooled single-cylinder engine. There were 70 made, and this one will be joining the surviving 5HP in competing in the Veteran Car Run. Remarkably this will be its 56th appearance, and the start line isn’t too far way from where it was made in South London. It has also been in the possession of Vauxhall Heritage for an extended period, and will be co-driven by Vauxhall’s PR Simon Hucknall and journalist Steve Fowler.