Motor enthusiasts proved old cars were made to last when a rolling museum of colourful vehicles made the trip from London to Brighton yesterday.

More than 500 antique cars steamed down the 60-mile run from London's Hyde Park to Madeira Drive, in Brighton, for the Veteran Car Run.

Organisers said it was the highest number of entries at the event for ten years as participants flocked from 26 countries to show off their motors.

The vehicles, many more than 110 years old, provided an attraction for day visitors who flocked to Brighton seafront in their thousands.

The variety and age of the models that made the journey were also a testament to the dedication of motorists who have restored vehicles and take part in the event each year.

For Sir Freddie Sowrey, of Herons Ghyll, near Uckfield, this was his 17th car run in his French 1901 Darracq.

The vehicle was being used as a tractor when Sir Sowrey bought it in 1990. He then spent 20 years restoring the car.

Despite an inevitable hitch when the car's battery ran down, Sir Sowrey enjoyed the day. He said: "I love it. It's a great occasion."

Retired engineer Colin Groves, of West Wittering, took his daughter, Rachel Boyle, and two grandchildren, 12 and nine - easily the youngest participants - out for the bracing journey in his 1904 De Dion Bouton.

The former racing driver, who competed at Silverstone and Brands Hatch in his youth, said the motor was "in pieces"

when he bought it eight years ago. After spending a year restoring the car Mr Groves has now joined in the run for seven years. He said: "The weather really made it today. It has been marvellous."

Some vehicles were adorned with props of the time, including old badges, battered luggage and flags.

One 1902 Pierce sported a Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. Owner Rodney de Little, a landlord from Colwood Lane, Bolney, said the flags were tributes to his two daughters.

He said: "The American flag is for my American daughter, Lettice, and the English flag is for my English daughter, Cressida."

About ten per cent of the aging motors do not make the distance each year because of breakdowns.

Mr de Little's half brother, Tam Large, who lives in Streat, near Ditchling, drove a 1900 Clement but broke down at Pease Pottage. Mr de Little said: "He has owned it for three years and it has broken down every single time."

The car run was organised by Motion Works UK Limited on behalf of The Royal Automobile Club.

A spokesman for the organisers said: "The crowds have been really fantastic this year. There were thousands of people looking on. It's amazing to see it."

The car run first took place in 1896 to mark the raising of the speed limit from 4mph to 12mph.