Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The 29th London to Brighton Classic Car Run

Sunday was the big day! We were up at 5am (Andy and bunnies) and 6am (me) and headed off to the start at Brooklands at 8am.

(all photos by the way, were taken by me, at Amberley Museum, our stopping off point and at Brighton where the run ended)

We got there in plenty of time, but the sat nav instructions, sent us to the wrong gate and after being given a slap on the wrist, we were sent off to 'the other side'. That was fine, but we didn't know where the other side was, and we were meant to be checked in forty-five minutes before we were due to set off for Brighton. We passed many other cars coming away from the place we had ended up, so assumed they were on their way to Brighton already, but after a few conversations later in the day, realised that they had all been in the same boat as us!

1967 Ford Mustang

We then spent a while driving around hopelessly lost. We stopped at a carwash and asked there, but the men working there were Polish and didn't really know what we were talking about, but one did have an inkling we were talking about the place 'old cars went' and pointed us in the general direction of Brooklands Road. We double checked at a petrol station and they did the same thing, so off we went.

1958 Mercedes 190

1958 Mercedes 190

Anyway, finally we got there and I was feeling really harried. We were late being there, and then saw The Queue of Doom to check in. We joined the back of it and were soon checked in and furnished with our packet of 'things', including participation certificates, guide book, participation brass, plaque, pen and fridge magnet with our participation number, this was what really impressed Andy! Andy attached the plaque to Meirionwen’s bumper and we were ready to go!

This was actually taken at the first stop off point, I was far too stressed to take a photo before we went!

We joined the line to be waved off in front of Concorde, by a dapper chap with a moustache, apparently at the start of the actual Brooklands race track! At 10am, we were off.

Oh my, it was stressful! Andy tried resetting the tripometer as they recommended, but it all went horribly wrong after we thought we took a wrong turn, so I was trying to follow the guidebook, look for road signs and put up with Andy yelling at me to, JUST TELL ME WHERE TO GO! Don’t tempt me, thought Melanie.

We had periods of calm and periods of bickering and shouting all the way to the stop off point at Amberley Museum. I swear there should be an award for those who make it to Brighton without arguing, I bet there wouldn't be many in the running.

You may recall my tale of Meirionwen's windscreen wiper flying off on our way to Wales last year? This time Andy's window winder flew off. The horn has also pinged off randomly before now!

1971 Chesil Speedster 356 and 1961 Austin Healey 3000 MkI

It was nice seeing all the other cars though, and even though we had been warned not to follow another car, I did take comfort in seeing a classic in front of us. But it was a bit hairy when I saw we had classics following us! I wouldn't do that if I were you, I thought.

There was much hilarity from both sides when we spotted cars having to turn around or that had started going the wrong way as they corrected themselves, as we were doing it too and exchanged many a look of helpless confusion with other cars! Andy suggested it might be the old Meccano trick, throwing in some confusing or wrong instructions to add to the spirit of adventure.

This was my favourite car of the day other than Meirionwen, a 1962 Alvis TD21 Series II.

We finally got to the first stop off point at noon and parked up and got to look around the other cars and meet some of the other people taking part. We met some nice classic car custodians and members of the public too, before we were off on the final leg of the run.

1953 Citroen 11BL aka Hannah Maria

There was an odd bit of doubling back at the start of the second part of the route, so we left Amberley Museum, taking a left turn, and went a little way before coming back past the museum again, for safety reasons. As there was doubling back to be done, it meant we would be passing other cars doing the same as us and I read in the guide book that we were encouraged to wave at other participants of the run, and after a few polite waves with no response, we upped the ante and started waving madly, which prompted frantic waves back and laughs from other drivers and navigators!

I must say, part two of the run was remarkably pretty, passing through astonishingly beautiful villages, West Sussex is a beautiful part of the country, but do you know, we got all the way to the outskirts of Brighton, without me realising my camera was on the back seat and NOT in the boot, so I could have taken pictures! I was so peeved. So yes, I realised as we reached Brighton, and got caught in traffic, that I had my camera, so took a few pictures then.

The happiest little car that ever there was!

1959 Austin Healey Sprite MkI

Yes, I went with leopard! And had my red petticoat peeking out an inch or so from the hem.

All was going smoothly until we dropped down into Brighton and the directions appeared to be wrong, as there was no left turn to be taken. I thought I had read the directions wrong, but the little racing green Frog Eyed Sprite behind us went wrong THREE times too, ending up in the Marina every time, so the driver told me when we were all finally at Madeira Drive, so I know it wasn’t me and my ineptitude at reading directions.

Finally, we were going along Brighton seafront and I knew exactly where Madeira Drive was, which was the finishing point, and we got there, but the marshals just stared at us, as they leant on the barriers blocking the road off! Is this not the way in? we thought, so drove on and got tangled up in the horrendous roads of Brighton, with people beeping angrily at each other and shouting at others, it was hideously stressful, particularly being in a classic car, but we turned around eventually and headed back to where the marshals were and then they decided to act and lifted the barrier to let us in.

Brighton Pier.
We were wondering if these two sitting looking out to sea took part in the run ... that would certainly explain their body language and the distance apart they're sitting!

Finally, we could breathe properly and start to relax and were instructed to park up next to a beautiful Mercedes. We had a chat with the custodians, who were really lovely and said they'd been doing it for the past fifteen years on and off.

1969 Mercedes Benz Pagoda 280sl

As I emerged from Meirionwen, I heard a little girl speak up. "Mummy, look at her dress!" then, "Mummy, look at her DRESS!" followed by, "MUMMY! LOOK AT HER DRESS!!!!" I think she liked my dress, hehe!

We met more people on the run and some other members of the public and took part in the Best Period Dressed Competition, which was between us and about six other couples, but again: nothing. *sigh* what can you do?

So, would we do it again? Once home, we thought: no. Next morning, Andy says: yes, as he wants to actually leave from London, and as it leaves Greenwich next year, who knows!

* * *

After our Brighton adventures, we are now mentally preparing ourselves for the next trip: Weston Super Mare. I have no idea what it's like there and wasn't even sure where it was until the Gilbern club said the next National Day was to be there in early July. 

I'm looking forward to it though, we get to take Meirionwen to meet up with all her brothers, sisters and her cousins again! It'll be novel to not hear people ask what she is and to mistake her continuously for an Aston Martin!


  1. What an adventure, looks like a riot, despite the navigation bickering!! X

    1. It was certainly an adventure, but I could have done without the bickering! I felt like abandoning the car at one point! xxx

  2. What a great trip! We'd be at each other's throats, too, we're both utterly useless at getting anywhere.
    Some fabulous cars and I'd love to have seen the best dressed couple, they'd have to go a long way to beat you two!
    Weston's great - I did a blog post about it last year, loads of charity shops and a Wetherspoons right on the seafront! xxx

    1. My problem is lack of sense of direction and then Andy happily dumped the whole navigation thing on me and wouldn't even glance at the guide book, even when we were stopped! Nope, not my problem, was his basic attitude.

      Andy is very happy to know that there's a Wetherspoons on the seafront! xxx

  3. You did it!
    I'm typically the driver AND navigator on our road trips-the men in my life are useless with directions and maps.

    Love the leopard outfit-what do judges know?! They should have let the children pick the winners.

    1. We did, but I don't think I did enough to earn myself the title of Navigator Extraordinaire!

      The judges obviously knew nothing! If that little girl had been a judge, I would have easily won! xxx

  4. Your 'Don't tempt me!' made me laugh. It all made me think of Genevieve, and that's a marvellous film.

  5. I absolutely enjoyed this post. You are very funny - in a good way, of course - and like Mim, your "Don't tempt me!" gave me a good chuckle, and then I had to explain to Jos what I was laughing about. I guess we would have fared even worse. I'm OK with navigating, but then Jos is always questioning my sense of direction. At times, he just ignores me AND the SatNav, and does his own thing anyway. And let me tell you, it always transpired I was right anyway. Still, it must have been exciting being part of such an event. And those judges clearly need their eyes testing: you were looking fabulous! xxx


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