Shuttleworth Panhard returns to London-Brighton for anniversary

RAF pilot and racing driver Richard Shuttleworth's 1898 Panhard Levassor is returning to the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, 90 years after its debut

Famed racing driver and aviator Richard Shuttleworth’s 1989 Panhard Levassor will return to the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run this year, celebrating 90 years since its first appearance on the heritage rally.

Shuttleworth’s 12bhp Panhard is part of the eponymous Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire, believed to be the first four-cylinder 12bhp car ever built by the French marque.

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It debuted on the London-Brighton in 1928 with Shuttleworth at the wheel, who become a permanent fixture in the following years. Even in 1935, when he failed to lodge his entry on time, he still turned up at the Westminster Bridge starting line and raced anyway.

The car’s original debut nearly failed to happen at all. Purchased specifically to take part in the London-Brighton race, Panhard’s UK agents were unable to undertake the required race preparation in time. So, he did what any true racer would do – brought in a friend and worked on his car overnight to ensure it was race-ready.

Despite having completed the run numerous times since, Shuttleworth Collection volunteers are taking no chances for its 90th anniversary run, having recently finished a two year mechanical restoration.

‘Marking the 90th anniversary of Richard Shuttleworth’s first participation in the Brighton Run will be very special for all involved in keeping The Collection alive in his memory,’ said Stuart Gray, vehicle manager at the Shuttleworth Trust.

‘I’m sure it will be a proud – yet emotional – day as we picture a hugely enthusiastic young Richard jumping behind the wheel of this very car back in 1928.’

Though the Panhard’s full racing history is difficult to accurately chart, some sources have suggested it is the same vehicle raced by Réné de Knyff, who would go on to be the president of the current world motorsport body’s predecessor, the Commission Sportive Internationale.

Its subsequent history is more curious still, as after a rebody in 1901 it passed to the Lord Rothschild family and is said to have been driven by King Edward VII at Ascot.

As for its ownership after Shuttleworth died during an RAF training exercise in 1940, aged just 31, it has remained in his family’s hands ever since, acting as a proponent for the Shuttleworth Collection’s founding.

This year’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run takes place on Sunday, November 4, capping a week of activites during London Motor Week which includes the Regent Street Motor Show on November 3.

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