I had the honour of riding as a passenger on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run last year. I was delighted to receive an invitation to join Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust patron and DNA Jaguar personality Michael Quinn as one of his passengers in the Trust’s 1901 Lanchester. The brand is well known in the veteran world as a luxurious Birmingham product, and the name is still owned by Jaguar. We were part of a two car operation supported by the Trust’s team of experienced mechanics and it is such a credit to England’s industrial heritage that Jaguar supports the veteran cars.
So how does time come in to it? In two ways. Firstly it takes a philosophical leap in today’s disposable society to understand fully that one is riding in a mechanical vehicle manufactured nearly 120 years ago. Obsolescence simply wasn’t a ‘thing’ then. The car is a real time traveller and a credit both to the original manufacturing quality and the careful maintenance lavished on it since.
Secondly, and quite simply, that time flies when you are enjoying yourself; as we say. When you are experiencing sensory overload, time doesn’t get a look in. We started in Hyde Park at 07.15 am and arrived in Brighton at 1 pm, but it could have been just an hour or two, I had no idea. And the experience was all involving; with no windscreen meaning an onward blast around the head, with spindly wheels finding every unevenness in the road; no steering wheel meaning that Michael was steering with a boat-style tiller which required constant attention and adjustment to keep us heading in exactly the right direction.
Heading down hill and picking up speed was one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced, motorcycling included. Don’t waste my time with roller coasters, this was for real.
Once it was all over and the car handed back to its stewards for some TLC, we started to think about getting back to London. We were lucky enough to be able to find a couple of seats in a modern minibus heading north. Beautifully driven by our driver, thanks Sue, and thank you to the Royal Automobile Club also, we swept up the A23 and M23. Senses rested we both slept for a while, but Chelsea were playing at home and the congestion was building. The journey seemed to take forever, though it didn’t of course, but all senses were focussed on the process and the congestion. We were so pleased to disembark in central London. What a contrast to the morning when time had stood still in the Lanchester.
So how fast were we going in the Lanchester? A good question indeed, as there are no instruments; none at all. On the dual carriageway south of Redhill we picked up a group of fast moving cyclists from Epsom Cycling Club, they started to use us as a hole in the air to help their pace and of course they have cycle computers. Thanks guys; it was good riding with you. “How fast are we going?”; I shouted backwards to them. “Twenty-five”; they shouted. Then a few minutes later, as we were bowling along in top gear, they were shouting again. “Twenty-six!” That’s true speed.
Discover the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and a little CV of our beautiful car here and keep an eye out for Michael Quinn’s latest adventure at DNA Jaguar, here. Many thanks also to the Royal Automobile Club with a report on the event here.