National Motor Museum Blog – Winter 2019

Posted  23.10.2019
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With TV presenter Fuzz Townshend and the UK’s oldest Fiat joining the National Motor Museum team for the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the build-up to the highly anticipated event has seen plenty of activity in the museum workshop.

One of the highlights of the calendar for National Motor Museum engineers, the special event is always a first-class opportunity for motoring fans to see cars from the early days of motoring in action. More than 400 pre-1905 veteran cars will be taking part to commemorate the original Emancipation Run of 1896.

For this year’s run on Sunday November 3rd, they have been preparing four pre-1905 veteran cars to tackle the 60-mile journey from London’s Hyde Park to Brighton’s Madeira Drive.

One of the star cars is Fiat’s 1899 Fiat 3.5hp, the oldest Fiat in the UK and celebrating its 120th birthday. Usually on show to Beaulieu visitors, the Fiat will be joined by the museum’s 1904 De Dion Bouton Model Q, 1903 De Dietrich 24hp and 1903 Daimler 22hp.

TV presenter Fuzz Townshend will be motoring down to Brighton in the National Motor Museum’s 1904 De Dion Bouton

Driving lesson for Fuzz

Getting behind the wheel of the De Dion Bouton will be presenter and motoring guru Fuzz Townshend, known to millions of motoring fans as the car restoring expert in the hit TV series Car SOS.

Fuzz’s training day was rainy and cold – hopefully the day of the run will have much better weather!

Having restored over 70 classic cars for the National Geographic Channel show, Fuzz has a lifelong interest in historic machines and originally trained as a bus mechanic, making him a safe pair of hands to handle the 115 year-old car. Nonetheless, a driving lesson was essential before his gruelling drive.

Under the expert guidance of National Motor Museum Senior Engineer Ian Stanfield, Fuzz was put through his paces, mastering the car’s controls and discovering some of its foibles before taking to the open road for a 10-mile run practice run across the New Forest. With a top speed of less than 30mph, Fuzz is now ready for a long day of driving.

Senior Engineer Ian Stanfield gives Fuzz the lowdown on the controls of this 115-year-old veteran car

Fuzz said: “It’s a brilliant opportunity and I’m really looking forward to taking part in the run, so thank you to everyone at Beaulieu for inviting me. The De Dion is quite scary to drive but it’s going to be an amazing experience. I reckon it’s going to take me about six hours or so to get down to Madeira Drive, by which point I’ll probably be wet, cold and in need of a cup of tea!”

A swing of the starting handle is required to awaken the 1-cylinder engine of the De Dion Bouton

National Motor Museum Manager and Senior Engineer Doug Hill will be behind the wheel of the De Dietrich, with engineer Mike Gillett riding with Fuzz in the De Dion and Senior Engineer Ian Stanfield in the Fiat. Engineer Mitch Caws will be driving the Daimler, joined by National Motor Museum Trust Prize Draw lucky winner Carole McGuire in the passenger seat.

The 1904 De Dion Bouton can often be seen at other times of the year being driven around the Beaulieu attraction

Beaulieu has a tradition of famous faces behind the wheel of its veteran cars for this event. Even before he created his first museum, National Motor Museum founder Edward, Lord Montagu took part in the 1950 run in his family’s 1903 De Dion Bouton, accompanied by famous model Barbara Goalen. Since then, Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart and more recently Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood and BBC Transport Correspondent Paul Clifton have perched on the antique upholstery of Beaulieu’s veteran cars for the drive. We are excited that Fuzz has agreed to represent us this year.

Follow this year’s adventure on Beaulieu’s Facebook at /nationalmotormuseum, Twitter @Beaulieu_Hants, and Instagram @national_motor_museum, as well as Fuzz’s YouTube channel at

Fiat’s birthday celebration

Built in the same year that car manufacturer Fiat was founded and celebrating a milestone birthday, it is fitting that Fiat’s 1899 Fiat 3.5hp is taking part in the year that Fiat is Manufacturer Patron of the event. With a top speed of just 22mph, the journey to the south coast is certainly a stern reliability test for the car, requiring fastidious preparation of the 697cc 2-cylinder engine to ensure that it performs to the best of its abilities.

Following extensive preparations, the Fiat is now fighting fit

The 1903 De Dietrich 24hp has also required careful preparation for the event. In common with many cars of the era, this impressive touring car uses chain drive to transmit its power to the rear wheels. In anticipation of the event, a new pair of drivechains was expertly fitted by the engineers, before the 4-cylinder engine was serviced and tuned.

A fine example of a luxurious touring car, the De Dietrich is one of four veteran cars in the National Motor Museum team

Greasing, lubricant changes, adjusting mechanisms and extensive testing was common to the preparation of all four cars, with the engineers also fitting them with discreet but high-power LED marker lights front and rear. Complementing the cars’ paraffin-fuelled lamps, these temporary add-ons are a subtle, easily reversible modification that will ensure that the cars will be easily spotted by other drivers on the open road.

Ready for the run

Following an overnight rest and a very early start on the morning of the event, the workshop team will head to the start line at Hyde Park ready for the starting flag at sunrise.

Once all four of the museum’s cars are en-route, the engineers in the support team will head to the halfway service point to await their arrival for the cars to be checked over, refuelled and replenished with fluids – while any repairs can be carried out at the roadside. After a long journey, being cheered on by cheers from the crowds, all will hopefully make it to the finish line in Brighton. Fingers crossed for dry weather and perfect reliability!

Also ready for the journey is the 1903 Daimler 22hp, seen here in the workshop with its bodywork raised to give access to its transmission

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