Under The Hood

First Speeding Automobile to be shown at Concours of Elegance in England

1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage to be shown

Everyone wants to be first in the automotive world, and it’s always been that way.

First to the finish line. First with hydraulic brakes. First to 100 mph. First to get a speeding ticket.

Well, maybe being first to a speeding ticket isn’t as much a goal as a consequence for trying to attain one of the many other “firsts.”

The 1896 Arnold Benz Motor Carriage that is believed to have been the first automobile cited for speeding was traveling at an “astounding” 8 mph — four times the legal speed limit in England at the time. Driver Walter Arnold was pulled over by a policeman on a bicycle.

Now, 120 years later, that Arnold Benz Motor Carriage will appear at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace in England this September.

English law at the time required all cars stick to a limit of 2mph and that they be led by a man on foot waving a red flag at all times. But Walter Arnold, driving through Paddock Green in Kent, was doing neither. As a result, Walter was convicted of speeding and forced to pay a shilling fine plus costs.

An 1897 image of an Arnold Benz Motor Carriage.

It was in late 1896, with the advent of the Locomotives Act, that the need for a red flag bearer and 2 mph speed limit were abolished and the limit raised to 14 mph. In celebration, cars raced from London to Brighton in a so-called Emancipation Run, during which Walter Arnold actually competed.

The run still exists to this day, in the form of the Royal Automobile Club’s annual Veteran Car Run, in which pre-1905 cars recreate the journey from London to Brighton. A parade of these cars will also be arriving at the Concours of Elegance in September, allowing visitors to experience the sights and sounds of the earliest motoring pioneers.

Learn more about theConcours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace at www.concoursofelegance.co.uk

 

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