Walter Arnold was driving four times the legal speed limit when he was pulled over in Paddock Green, Kent, in the UK. The policeman who chased him down was riding a bicycle.
The year was 1896 and Arnold was hurtling through Kent in his Arnold Benz Motor Carriage at the highly illegal speed of 8 miles per hour, flagrantly defying the British law that limited speeds of the newfangled horseless carriages to 2 miles per hour, with each vehicle required to have a man walking ahead of it waving a red flag.
But Arnold, driving one of the first production cars on British roads, was having none of that. An auto dealer who with a partner had developed the Arnold motorcar based on the Benz Velo of Germany, Arnold was anxious to demonstrate the absurdity of the British speed law.
So Arnold, according to the annals of history, was the first motorist ever issued a speeding ticket. He was fined one shilling plus costs.
The 1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage with the dubious honor of being the first car ticketed for speeding will be on display at the Concours of Elegance 2017, held September 1-3 at Hampton Court Palace. The historic antique will join a collection of exceptional automobiles ranging from the earliest examples of motoring to the latest supercars, such as the Le Mans-winning Jaguar XJR-9 with a top speed of more than 240 mph.
Arnold’s bold drive through Kent in January 1896 was part of a push by early motorists to end Britain’s onerous speed law, which severely limited the country’s newly minted driving enthusiasts. Sure enough, the regulations were repealed on November 14, 1896, with the Locomotives on the Highway Act that raised the national speed limit to 14 miles per hour and ended the need for a walking red-flag bearer.
Drivers celebrated their newfound freedom by staging a race from London to the seaside town of Brighton that they called the Emancipation Run, in which Walter Arnold and his motorcar were participants.
The London to Brighton run continues to this day, organized by the Royal Automobile Club since 1930 as the Veteran Car Run, in which pre-1905 automobiles are invited to make the 60-mile trek in an annual event held in early November. The popular event attracts hundreds of participants from around the world.
The Concours of Elegance will include a parade of some of those veteran cars during its show in September.
For information about the Concours of Elegance, visit the event website.