Sunday 5 November 2017 saw our 1903 De Dietrich take part in the London to Brighton Veteran car run, successfully making it to Brighton in under six hours! The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is the longest-running motoring event in the world, and takes place on the first Sunday of every November and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896, which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act. It’s a rare opportunity for extraordinary veteran automobiles to make the historic 60-mile journey from Hyde Park in central London to the seafront in Brighton, Sussex. Every year more than 400 examples of pre-1905 manufactured vehicles enter to celebrate the pioneering spirit and quality of engineering of early motoring.

Made in 1903 by the De Dietrich Company in Luneville, France who originally produced locomotives and rolling stock – by 1900 the company had diversified into building motor cars to other companies’ designs under licence. This original car has been successfully restored over three years by a team of volunteers from our vehicle team, under the guidance of Vehicle Collection Manager, Stuart Gray. The project was made lengthy by the amount of research being undertaken before work began, and the sourcing of original parts. Stuart said the reason behind such painstaking preparation work was to that “Our mission as the Shuttleworth vehicle team is to restore these cars to as close to their original work specification as possible. The De Dietrich has been repainted and overhauled, and most importantly it has been returned to its original low tension ignition system.”

This desire to restore to original and working condition was the key driver behind Richard Shuttleworth collecting the exhibits that still form the heart of The Shuttleworth Collection today. The De Dietrich was one of his own vehicles that was first owned by Sir George McKenzie of Tempsford Park and originally fitted with a Tonneau four seater body. It was purchased by Richard Shuttleworth and registered to him in November 1928 and he fitted the present ‘racing’ body. As he was a passionate racing driver he drove on many circuits, and this De Dietrich returned to drive at Brooklands this June for the first time since it was last driven there by Richard in the 1930s.

Richard enjoyed the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run immensely, taking part many times with friends and family including his mother Dorothy Shuttleworth who preserved his collection after his death and opened it up to the public in 1963 at what is today a world class vintage airshow venue and all year round visitor attraction. This year the De Dietrich was crewed by volunteers and engineers from The Shuttleworth Collection, with the spirit of Richard Shuttleworth firmly with them from the freezing cold start to warm celebrations as this marvellous 1903 automobile once again returned to cross the finish line and take her place at Brighton pier before the journey home to Bedfordshire!

Watch Peter Baughan’s video of this year’s run. The De Dietrich was crewed by Tim King (drove first half), Steve Hartles, Rory Cook (drove to the finish line) and Stuart Gray. Header image copyright Kevin Panter.

Images below (copyright Stuart Gray and Kevin Panter) – Tim & Steve at the start, and team Shuttleworth make it to Brighton!