THOUSANDS of classic and modern Mini drivers descended on the seafront yesterday.

The annual London to Brighton Mini Run took place from Crystal Palace to Madeira Drive, Brighton.

Organisers say vehicle owners from across the country joined in the annual event, while owners enjoyed showing off modifications to their vehicles and catching up with pals.

They were celebrating the classic car, which first appeared on the road in 1959 and has since become iconic after featuring in films such as The Italian Job in 1969, starring Michael Caine.

There were also adapted Minis which have been used as vans, army vehicles, and even as a sofa.

Modern Minis were also on display along the seafront. These were developed after the Rover motoring group was taken over by BMW, with a new generation launched in 2001.

But there were some traffic problems as the procession took a different route into the city due to work at Valley Gardens.

Motorists reported delays and a crash in Roedean Road in the east of the city, where traffic approaching the junction at East Brighton Park was at a standstill.

Back on the seafront, there were smiles as there was some sunshine and the rain stayed away. Event chairman Matt Thornton, 39, pictured left, said he has been attending the Brighton event for nearly 20 years.

He got his first Mini when he was 17, and had brought along a restored classic painted in the colours of the Union flag.

Mr Thornton said some 2,100 Minis were registered with the event, and said he expected to raise thousands of pounds for Canine Partners and for the Diamond Centre.

Ian Lavender, 53, from Crawley was attending the event alongside pals from the Sussex Mini Club.

The father-of-two said: “It’s great, it has always been fun and there is a really good show here every year to come down and see all the old classic cars.

“You meet up with people and clubs who you have met over the years. I always wanted a Mini, it was a childhood dream to own one.

“It was difficult with a young family, but when they grew up, I could afford to take the step and buy a Mini as my own toy.”

Brighton Mini Club chairman Mark Draper, 42, was also on the seafront.

Along with mechanic Keith Miller, 43, the duo have kitted out a Mini kit car, and documented their challenges over 40 episodes on YouTube, attracting thousands of followers.

Mr Draper, a builder, said he will be raising money to support Brighton charity Chestnut Tree House.

He said: “We started building this Mini from its shell in December. It is a full restoration and today is its unveiling.

“I have owned Minis for the past five years, but my first car was also a Mini back in 1993.

“Thy are really fun to drive, and get a lot of people interested when you pull up at traffic lights.

“I own nine in total. They are just iconic aren’t they? With this one, we were determined it would be on display today as it is our local show and a chance to showcase the club. The car only had its MoT certificate done on Friday.”

To find out more information about the event, visit