classic cars, historic vehicles, Motoring News, motorsport

Brighton Run premiere for rare American Premier

  • American auto history read for Brighton run
  • Technically advance and with oak-leaf badge
  • Recent restoration to be driven by US owner
PREMIER Image: Newspress
PREMIER:  Image: Newspress

BRIGHTON, England – The 2018 London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Run will see many magical marques on the world’s longest motoring event and among them will be something truly unique – an American Premier complete with its distinctive oak-leaf badge.

Premier was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1903 and is said to have quickly earned a reputation for technically advanced cars – and the oak leaf on its radiator badge, something still believed to be the first use of an emblem as an automotive trademark.

PREMIER Image: Newspress
PREMIER:  Image: Newspress

Boldly, the badge also stood for the automaker’s engineering philosophy by bearing the words ‘Quality Car’.


The company initially built automobiles with air-cooled engines (right) and, like many other pioneering motormakers of the era, used motorsport to promote and improve the brand..

One such, of course, was the Indianapolis 500.

The company produced more than 10 000 cars before being taken over in 1926 yet very few Premiers have survived. ”Indeed,” say the London-Brighton organisers, ”only a couple of pre-1905 models eligible for the famous Veteran Car Run are known to  exist.”

One of them ­– a twin-cylinder, 16hp (about 12kW), example – is on show, fittingly, in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s museum. The other,  recently restored, will be in London for the 2018 and Regent Street auto show’s concours d’elegance on November 3 ahead of the next day’s run to Brighton, a holiday resort town on England’s south coast.


The car is finished in what is called Brewster Green with canary-yellow running gear, a four-cylinder Model F found tired, but substantially complete, during the late 1980’s and then subjected to what is described as ”an exacting restoration”.

A new rear-entrance body (see image below) was constructed in keeping with period images and an application made to the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain for an official dating certificate.

The Premier, however, never crossed the Atlantic to take part in the Brighton run.

READ MORE about the London-Brighton run here

It was, however, offered at a Bonhams auction and was bought by Indiana businessman Steven Haines, the man responsible for its 2018 entry in the Run. He told The Corner in a media release: “It’s always been on my bucket list to have a car eligible for the Run. I’ve been a passenger to Brighton but  this will be my first time driving my own car.”

“I remember London’s Hyde Park was beautiful and sunny but, by the time we got to Brighton, it was pouring down with rain and I don’t think I’ve ever been colder in my life! Still, it was fun, and that’s why I’m now really looking forward to returning.”


His Premier dates back to an era of single-cylinder, planetary-transmission, cars. It’s a ”forward-thinking” Model F with an overhead-valve, four-cylinder, engine with a sliding gear transmission.

Advertisements contemporary with its era, The Corner was told, described it as offering a speed range of five to 40mph and promoted its sizeable 10-gallon tank with a 182-mile range – ample for the 60-mile Brighton run.

PREMIER Image: Newspress
PREMIER:  Image: Newspress

“It’s fun to drive and really gets up and goes!” Haines said. “It accelerates surprisingly quick and has good torque.”

The Premier isn’t the only venerable motor manufacturer in the Run for the first time in November. Also on the ”rookie roster” will ba a Swedish Vabis – a rarity which led to the globally-renowned Scania brand.

The Premier and Vabis will be just two of more than 400 pre-1905 cars following the celebrated route from London to Brighton. Full information can be found on the official website.


”The event will,” it’s said, ”be a fitting grand finale to the Royal Automobile Club’s London Motor Week which will have an array of functions and events, one of them the Regent Street Motor Show on the Saturday before the Run.”

Auctioneer Bonhams will host a Veteran Car Run sale on the preceding Friday afternoon.

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