Veteran Car Run competitor is keeping it in the family

by Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
10 October 2022 2 min read
Veteran Car Run competitor is keeping it in the family
Photos: Veteran Car Run

Britain’s longest-running motoring event, the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, is less than a month away. Hundreds of veteran cars will set off at dawn from Hyde Park on 6 November 2022, each one with a remarkable story to tell.

Some are more remarkable than others, like a 1903 Panhard-Levassor that’s been in the same family from new. That’s 119 years of continuous family ownership. Incredible.

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‘Tramway King’ Sir George White, a Bristol-based businessman and future founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Company paid £750 for the car as a 21st birthday present for his son Stanley White. It’s now owned by Stanley’s grandson, also called Sir George White, who will be participating in this year’s Veteran Run.

Originally painted white with red detailing, the colour was later changed to the family’s dark green and black livery. It was registered AE 10 with the introduction of number plates.

Panhard-Levassor 1903

“That was the last time it was painted – 1904,” said Sir George, who inherited the car when his grandfather passed away in 1964. Other modifications carried out by Stanley included a plate glass windscreen, hood and an interchangeable lightweight racing body.

This isn’t the first time the Panhard has taken part in the Veteran Car Run. Sir George believes it’s the car’s 20th London to Brighton, half of which were in the hands of Sir Alec Croydon of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. There haven’t been many issues, which worries Sir George.

“Somebody said to me once, that the fun of the Run is that you know you’re going to break down, but you don’t know where or when! I think that’s true. The extraordinary thing about the Panhard is that if we prepare it properly, and if everything goes as you hope it going to go, you just drive to Brighton. It’s actually really rather disappointing if you haven’t had a real battle to get there!”

AE 10 on Veteran Car Run

Sir George is relishing the opportunity to get up at the crack of dawn to take part. “There really is something quite wonderful about meeting in Hyde Park at dawn. I remember one year, there was a low mist over the whole of the park and over the water. Standing in the semi-darkness with the mist everywhere, I remember a car that appeared with candles in its headlights. It was quite, quite extraordinary.”

We’ll be in Hyde Park to witness this extraordinary event. Paul Cowland said he would ‘drop everything’ to take part, which is something he did last year. He called it “the slowest drive” of his life, but also “the most rewarding”. 

Read more

Hagerty’s Bucket List: London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
The World’s Oldest Motoring Event: The Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

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  • Andy says:

    There won’t be a single vintage car starting from Hyde Park as every car starting will have been made before 31st December 1904.

    The majority of vintage car owners thoughtfully park up to watch the Veterans slowly make their way to Brighton, and it’s great to see them there. We know where the Singer Owners club will be as well as various other Clubs and happily wave to them. There are a few interlopers who insist on getting in the way and impeding progress as we head down the A23 though.

  • Duncan Larke says:

    What a fantastic story !! Would love to read more about this car and family , wow 😮

  • John Mullen says:

    No “Vintage” cars are allowed only “Veterans” and then pre 1905.

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