“It’s an honour for Mercedes-Benz to support the event in this year of the anniversary of the automobile”, says Michael Bock, head of Mercedes-Benz Classic and director of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. “We invented the automobile, and the ‘London to Brighton Veteran Car Run’ is the oldest classic car event worldwide. That represents the basis for an ideal collaboration.”
The “London to Brighton Veteran Car Run”, held in the anniversary year of the automobile, will be symbolically opened by Jutta Benz, great-granddaughter of Carl Benz, inventor of the automobile. She will be driving a replica of the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen. This is the 63rd year since 1948 that Mercedes-Benz will have attended the Veteran Car Run, which is an annual highlight of the Mercedes-Benz Classic calendar.
The two participating Mercedes-Simplex cars are outstanding vehicles considering the automotive technology of their time. Following the invention of the automobile in 1886, the Mercedes-Simplex model, introduced in 1901 by the former Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, is regarded by today’s experts as the first modern automobile. For the first time, it showed important features which can still be found in passenger cars today, such as the low centre of gravity, the honeycomb radiator and an inclined steering column.
The Mercedes-Benz vehicles will once again be piloted by celebrity drivers this year: one will be driven by Nigel Mansell, 1992 British Formula 1 World Champion. Doug Nye, well-known British motor journalist, and Bernd Ostman, editor-in-chief of the professional journal “Auto Motor und Sport”, will be driving the second vehicle.
Remembering the emancipation of the automobile
The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is held exclusively for vehicles built before 1904. The annual event marks the “Emancipation Run” of 14 November 1896. That event was organised by Harry J. Lawson in celebration of a then new law in Britain that raised the maximum permitted speed for automobiles with an internal combustion engine, from a walking pace of 6.4 km/h (4 miles per hour) to 22.4 km/h (16 miles per hour). The new law also abolished the requirement that vehicles be preceded by a man walking ahead of the vehicle, for the safety of other road users, as previously required by the 1865 “Locomotive Act”, also known as the “Red Flag Act”. The first event was started by the symbolic tearing up of a red flag, since, up until 1878, the man walking ahead of the vehicle had to also carry a red flag as a warning.
The first official commemorative repeat of the London to Brighton Run took place in 1927, and since then it has been organised annually, with the exception of the years 1940 to 1947. The 77th event will take place this year. This makes the Run the oldest existing motoring event in the world, and, at the same time, the largest gathering of veteran cars from the early days of automotive history. In addition to four-wheeled cars with internal combustion engines, three-wheelers and also steam cars and electric cars will also take part. The British Royal Automobile Club has been organising the Run since 1930.
In the 2011 Run, approximately 550 vehicles from 20 countries will be taking part. Around 50 vehicles date from the period before 1900. They will all set out on 6 November 2011 on the approximately 96-kilometre (60-mile) course, which mainly follows the A23 road. The two oldest vehicles are expected to be a Benz Velo and a Benz Victoria, both from 1894. As many as 500,000 spectators are expected to line the route. The start is at Apsley Gate, at London’s Hyde Park, where the first vehicles will depart at the official sunrise time of 7.02 a.m. From there, the cars will head to a checkpoint at Market Square, Crawley, before the event comes to an official end in Preston Park, a suburb of the seaside resort of Brighton. The unofficial, but actual finish is subsequently also celebrated by the public on the grand promenade, Madeira Drive. Only cars that arrive in Brighton by sunset will be counted.
Around 100 vehicles will take part in an eve-of-event Concours d’Élégance, on London’s Regent Street, on Saturday, 5 November 2011. Each car will be individually introduced, and spectators will have an opportunity for closer inspection. Before that event, on 4 November 2011, Bonhams on New Bond Street will host an auction of vehicles and automobilia from the early days.
Mercedes-Simplex: the modern automobile
The Mercedes-Benz Classic cars which are to take part are all Mercedes Simplex models. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft produced a range of automobiles bearing this designation at Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, from 1901 to 1905, all of which had two things in common: they were designed by Wilhelm Maybach, and they were superior to all other cars at the time. The Simplex represented the pivotal transition from motorised carriage to purpose-built car. The Mercedes-Simplex is therefore regarded as the first modern automobile.
The most striking technical features of the Mercedes-Simplex were its four-cylinder, front-mounted engine with cylinders cast in pairs, the U-section pressed steel frame, a low centre of gravity, honeycomb radiator and inclined steering column. These features are what provided the typical car-like appearance that distinguished it from contemporary carriage-type automobiles. Next to the 38/40 PS Mercedes-Simplex, the 28/32 PS was the more compact automobile.
Technical data for the 38/40 PS Mercedes-Simplex racing car
Year of construction: 1902
Cylinders: 4 (in-line)
Displacement: 6558 ccm
Output: 40 hp (29 kW) at 1050 rpm
Maximum speed: approx. 75 km/h
Vehicle weight: 1250 kg
Technical data for the 28/32 PS Mercedes-Simplex touring car
Year of construction: 1904
Cylinders: 4 (in-line)
Displacement: 5315 ccm
Output: 32 hp (24 kW) at 1200 rpm
Maximum speed: approx. 60 km/h
Vehicle weight: 1250 kg
Technical data for the Benz Patent-Motorwagen Model I
Year of construction: 1886
Cylinders: Single-cylinder four-stroke engine with buzzer ignition
Displacement: 954 ccm
Output: 0.75 hp (0.55 kW) at 400 rpm
Fuel consumption: approx. 10 litres per 100 km
Maximum speed: 16 km/h
Vehicle weight: 265 kg
Born on 8 August 1953 in Upton-on-Severn, Worcestershire, England.
The rise of Mansell’s sporting career proceeded in a straight line from karting 1968-75, the Formula Ford 1976-77 and the British Formula 3 Championship 1978-80, all the way to his Formula 1 début in 1980 in a Lotus Ford.
A long series with successful races in Formula 1 followed, crowned by three second-place titles and finally, in 1992, the World Champion title. After a brief interlude in the IndyCar Series (he won the Champion title on his first attempt in 1993), he returned to Formula 1 in 1994, and won the Grand Prix in Australia.
In 1995, he started in the Formula 1 for Team McLaren-Mercedes.
Source: Daimler AG
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