Italy’s first car to lead London to Brighton drive

Italy’s first car to lead London to Brighton drive

The first car to be driven on Italian roads wasn’t Italian but an 1892 Peugeot from France. It’s been restored and awarded start number 1 for the 2017 London to Brighton celebration

The Italians have produced some amazing vehicles through the decades, but the first car to be driven on an Italian road was produced in France. That car, a Peugeot delivered in January 1893 to textile manufacturer Gaetano Rossi in Schio, Vicenza, in northern Italy, will participate in the London to Brighton Run, scheduled for November 5.

According to London to Brighton organizers, Rossi was a friend of Armand Peugeot. In 1893, Rossi gave his first Peugeot, the Type 3 (chassis No. 25) to his friend, Guido Lazzari, and bought another and newer Type 3. During World War I, parts of the car were taken for use by the Italian army and the car was “laid up” until 1955, when Lazzari’s heirs offered it to the Turin Automobile Museum in exchange for a then-new Fiat 1100.

The car was thought to be a later model and was partially restored. However, in 1999, research by Fabrizio Taiana of the Club Storico Peugeot Italia revealed that the car was, indeed, Rossi’s original 1892 model and thus the oldest car to have been driven on Italian roads. Previously, that honor had gone to a Panhard et Levassor that was driven in Florence in 1894.

Period Peugeot Type 3 technical drawing

In 2007, the 1892 Peugeot’s bodywork underwent restoration and earlier this year, it’s 2.5-liter twin-cylinder engine and other mechanical components were reconditioned in preparation for its debut on the London to Brighton Run.

“This is a genuinely fascinating car,” Peter Read, chairman of the Royal Automobile Club’s motoring committee, said in a news release. “One of the earliest Peugeots in existence, it is also one of the most significant and will come to London in November with an intriguing back story.”

Read also revealed that the car will be driven on the run by a member of the original owner’s family.

The 2017 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run will have a French theme, organizers said in awarding start number 1 to the Peugeot, which will be driven by Alessandro Rossi di Schio.

More than 400 early vehicles have been entered in the run, held annually to celebrate the end of the Locomotives on the Highway Act of 1896, which required that the newfangled motorcars be preceded on the road by a man walking and holding a red warning flag.

The run has become a week-long vintage vehicle celebration that includes the Regent Street motor show, an automotive art exhibition, and a Bonhams auction. For details, visit the veteran car run website.

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  • Mark Saperstein dmd ltd
    September 20, 2017, 9:51 PM

    Fascinating story, wonderfully told!