Premier to make its London to Brighton premiere

An American rarity will be making its London to Brighton Veteran Car Run debut this November

A new manufacturer will make its London to Brighton Veteran Car Run debut this year, and it's aptly called Premier.

Founded in Indianapolis in 1903, the Premier Motor Manufacturing Company earned a reputation for its high-quality automobiles, and claimed to be the first manufacturer to use an emblem as an automotive trademark with its use of an oak leaf on the radiator badge.

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The company initially built automobiles with air-cooled engines and promoted its brand by being the pace car at the 1916 Indianapolis 500. Very few cars built by Premier have survived to this day, especially ones built prior to 1905, making them eligible for London to Brighton.

One such example, a twin-cylinder 16bhp example, currently lives in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The other has recently been restored and is coming to London for this year’s Regent Street Motor Show Concours d’Elegance on November 3 and the following day’s rally that heads to Brighton.

The four-cylinder Model F is finished in Brewster Green with canary running gear, and started its most recent chapter of history after being found in the late 1980s in near complete condition. It was then restored using original information about the car, and a new rear-entrance body was constructed in keeping with period images. The car was ahead of its time, featuring an overhead valve four-cylinder engine and a sliding gear transmission.

During that time an application was actually made to the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain for an official dating certificate, enabling the car to take part in the London to Brighton rally if approved, but it ended up remaining in America and never competing – until now. Last year it was sold at Bonhams' autumn auction at Quail Lodge and its new owner, Elkhart-based businessman Steven Haines, has finally entered it into the iconic event.

'It’s always been on my bucket list to have a car that’s eligible for the Run,' explained Haines, who collects brass era cars. 'I came once before as a passenger, but this will be my first time driving my own car. I remember Hyde Park was beautiful and sunny but, by the time we got to Brighton, it was pouring down with rain and I don’t think I’ve ever been colder in my life! But it was still fun and that’s why I’m now really looking forward to coming back.'

Contemporary advertisements described it as offering a speed range of five to 40mph and promoted its sizeable 10-gallon tank, offering a 182-mile range – ample capacity for the 60-mile trip from capital to coast.

'It’s fun to drive and really gets up and goes!' continued Haines. 'It accelerates surprisingly quick and boasts some good torque.'

Joining it in the rarity stakes for new entrants is a Vabis, a Swedish car that spawned Scania. Over 400 over pre-1950s cars will take the start of the rally. Bonhams will host a special Veteran Car Run sale on the preceding Friday afternoon with a selection of rally-eligible cars and vintage memorabilia.

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