Everything looks Rosie as veteran heads for seaside

Hopping in the car for a drive to the coast may not seem much of a challenge – but the trip is not so straight forward when your motor is more than a century old.

And motoring enthusiast Rosie Battye will take on the challenge on Sunday when she takes part in the famous London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

First held 116 years ago, it is the world’s oldest motoring event and Rosie, of Batley, is one of few women to have entered this year’s famous rally as a driver, although others will be taking part in the historic ride as passengers.

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A regular competitor, she has only failed to finish once in the 30 times she has taken part.

Her vehicle is a 1902 Panhard et Levassor Tonneau, which has five seats, a powerful – for the time – 20 horsepower four-cylinder engine and is the only one of its kind still in existence.

It was bought by her late father, Stephen, 15 years ago and can average about 30mph.

“He was a car enthusiast as well but wouldn’t let me do the run when I was young,” she said.

“The first time I took part was in a borrowed car.”

This Sunday’s drive will be the third time Ms Battye has used the Panhard in the London to Brighton event.

“We spent about six hours polishing so that it looks its best. Driving such an old car is very much a mental challenge.

“It is very much about anticipation at things like traffic lights because it takes so long to stop and get started but that’s why I think it is so much fun.

“We are, though, open to the elements so we will be hoping for a dry day.

“When it rains you always get wet even when you are wearing waterproofs.

“We will be one of the faster cars in the run and should be one of the first cars in Brighton, although it’s not a race. We could arrive about 10.30am, depending on how many coffee stops we have.

“We have towed it down to London in the past but this time it is going on a transporter with some cars from Yorkshire that are taking part.”

Ms Battye will be joined on the journey to Brighton by her brother, Joseph, and aunt and uncle.

She said: “It is really good fun and everyone who comes along always enjoys the adventure.”

The car is maintained by a mechanic in Batley who makes the parts so that the car can be maintained and repaired.

“We are not taking a mechanic down with us this year so we will have our fingers crossed,” she added. “My mechanical knowledge runs to putting in water and oil.”

This year’s run will feature a maximum entry of 550 pre-1905 vehicles making their way from Hyde Park in London to Madeira Drive, in Brighton.

There are a total of 36 entries from Yorkshire including four vehicles built before 1900 and many rare models from car makers with names that 
remain familiar today – 1902 and 1904 Renaults, entered by Cliff Jowsey, from near Whitby, and by Daniel and Toby Ward, from Ripon,

John Bentley, of Harrogate, will drive a 1903 Sunbeam, Wolseys have been entered by Daniel Black, of Keighley and Tim Snowden, who lives in Harrogate, and Andrew Kyle of Howden, is taking part in a 1904 Peugeot.

Among long-forgotten names is the 1904 Pope-Hartford Rear-entrance entered by John Vause, of Harrogate.

The car has two seats and an engine giving just 10 horsepower.

John Thring, of Pontefract, will be taking part in a 1904 Cadillac Tonneau. Mr Thring has finished on all four occasions he has participated in the vintage car rally.

The event is part of Celebration of Motoring that includes the RAC Future Car Challenge, for low energy use vehicles, and the Regent Street Motor Show , which celebrates motoring from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.