1904 Renault model VB with Park Phaeton coachwork

AA Special Operations Response Team

AA Special Operations Response Team

This Renault car, built in 1904 and registered in 1905, is a model VB with Park Phaeton coachwork by Rothschild et Cie of Paris.

The engine is a 4 cylinder, 4¼ litre producing 23/25 brake horse power.  It has a 3 speed quadrant change gearbox operated by a leather cone clutch.

The final drive is transmitted via a central propeller shaft to a “live” back axel.  The maximum speed is in the region of 50 mph and petrol consumption averages 14 mpg.

The fuel tank holds about 12 gallons and is located directly underneath the driver’s seat!

The headlamps are powered by acetylene whilst the side and rear lamps burn paraffin.

Early history

The car was originally owned by Elizabeth, Lady Cheylesmere, a one-time lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary - said to have ridden in the car on numerous occasions.  The picnic baskets are believed to have been installed at Queen Mary's request.


Between 1919 and 1952 the vehicle was unused and its condition deteriorated badly. In 1954 the car was found in a derelict condition in a barn in Southern Ireland and was purchased by Paul Waring. 

At his mother’s Hotel garage in Swindon, Paul spent many hours restoring the car to its present condition. He was the owner of the car for some 10 years or so and in 1963 the car was used to open the 50th Paris Motor Show where it was the lead car in the parade.

In 1964 Paul and his son were sadly killed in a motor accident.

Denis Bass

Denis Bass, AA1 custodian

AA acquisition

In 1965 the AA started looking for a veteran car to buy to mark its 60th anniversary.

At the same time, Paul Waring’s mother was looking for a suitable home for the Renault car and had registered an interest with the VCC (Veteran Car Club) who put her in touch with the AA.

The original registration was OPL 839 but the AA had already acquired the registration plate AA1 and this was soon attached to the Renault.

London to Brighton

AA1 has participated in the RAC London to Brighton Veteran Car Run every year since 1966.

The official cut-off date for entry to the London to Brighton is 1904 but in 1996 the VCC re-classified AA1 as a 1905 vehicle! Fortunately, with the kind permission of the RAC, AA1 has been permitted to continue to participate every year in this famous event.

Mike and Kristine Currie

Congratulations Mike & Kristine

Other appearances

AA1 appeared in the film “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines” and has featured in many prestigious events over the years including the Queen Mother’s centenary celebration in London and the Lord Mayor's show.

The car also appears at a number of veteran car rallies as well as being used, on average around three or four times each year as a wedding car for AA staff and their families.

Denis Bass worked for the AA for 34 years and has been custodian of the car since 1998. Denis cleans, maintains, transports and drives AA1 wherever it appears.

(6 July 2012)


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