BORN IN THE USA

American automotive legend makes it London to Brighton debut on next month’s 125th anniversary Veteran Car Run
There are not many rookie debutants which are also centenarians but such is the magical appeal of the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run that, even now, pioneering pre-1905 vehicles are still being rediscovered, restored and readied to join the hundreds of remarkable horseless carriages already on the revered journey from capital to coast.
 
Staged as tradition dictates on the first Sunday in November – November 7 in 2021 – this year’s RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is honouring the 125th anniversary of the very first Emancipation Run of 1896 and, featured among the 300+ plucky participants, will be at least one never-seen-before newcomer: a 1903 Haynes Apperson (photo above).
 
Though little known today, Haynes Apperson was among America’s earliest and the most successful automobile manufacturers.
 
While the company’s founders – Elwood Haynes and brothers Edgar and Elmer Apperson – may not be as illustrious as either Henry Ford or Ransom E. Olds, their contributions to the American automotive industry are equally significant. In 1894 they were responsible for one of the country’s first functioning cars and the business the trio briefly established thereafter in Kokomo, Indiana is renowned for producing America’s first practical automobile.
 
Like so many of the regulars on the road to Brighton, the 1903 Haynes Apperson making its first appearance next month has many stories to tell… and, no doubt, many deep secrets which will never be told. 
 
What is known, though, is that the smart two-seater runabout spent most of its life in the USA before being shipped from New York to Holland in 1979. It was then sold at a Brooks Auction in 2000 and subsequently spent most of the next 16 years pottering about on an estate in East Sussex without being registered for the public road.
 
By the time its existence was made known to veteran car collector Martin Bodenham, the Haynes Apperson was in ignominious pieces undergoing a stalled restoration. “All I saw was the chassis as all the body parts had been stored away in a loft,” he recalls. “But I was looking to acquire another veteran and managed to acquire the project.”
 
Bodenham then had his new acquisition beautifully put back together by the Alsop family specialists at Henal Engineering (now Autohistoric) before encountering one final and totally unexpected obstacle: the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency.
 
“It took me eight or nine months to get the car registered with the DVLA,” reports Bodenham. “As there was no official history, they wanted me to get further information from the manufacturers… and they went out of business in 1905!” 
 
Eventually common sense prevailed and the Haynes Apperson was road registered, dated by the Veteran Car Club and is now ready to make its first trip to Brighton.
 
“I’m really looking forward to the Run and all the more excited as no one will have ever seen this car before,” confirmed a its expectant new owner who, in readiness, has been familiarising himself with the American machine’s particular idiosyncrasies. 
 
“Unlike all my other veterans [including a 1902 Renault photo below bottom], the Haynes has a twin-cylinder engine and it’s also left-hand drive. There’s no clutch either – you just pull a lever into one of three forward gates or into reverse,” he explains.   
 
For spectators eager to spot the ‘new’ 1903 Haynes Apperson on its debut, the dark green machine from Indiana will be wearing start number 151. 
 
Further information on all this year’s participants, as well as route and other details, are available on the official website: www.veterancarrun.com

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