It’s first light as we wait to meet Dylan Miles on Brighton seafront. Normally at this time of year, we’d be convoying down to Monaco for the historic races around the legendary street circuit. But with the many travel hurdles we all face currently, we decided instead to create our very own sunrise ‘Grand Prix de Brighton’ with a 1950 Jaguar XK120 Competition Roadster.
While eagle-eyed readers will note that it’s Jaguar’s C and D-Type racers that are regularly seen competing in Monaco, rather than the XK120, we think this particular car fits beautifully with the spirit and location of our story. Its competitive history has strong ties with the Sussex region, having been raced six times at Goodwood between 1951-52 and scoring a first in class at the BARC Eastbourne Rally in 1951 – both locations just a few miles either side of Brighton.
As Dylan pulls up to the meeting point in this stunning Jaguar XK120 Competition Roadster, I immediately spot on his wrist the green hue of the new TAG Heuer Monaco Limited Edition – released to mark the 2021 Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
Street racing still stands as one of the most exciting and original forms of motorsport, and just like Monaco, Brighton is no stranger to it. The Speed Trials along the seafront is known as one of the longest-running motorsport events, dating back to 1905. Piloting ‘Minky’, the 1950 competition XK120 around an imaginary lap of Brighton, we mixed in tunnels, the long straight along Madeira Drive – home of the Speed Trials – and then a more technical section through the popular back lanes of the town centre.
Of course, to time our lap of Brighton, we used the TAG Heuer Monaco 39mm Chronograph, accurate to a ¼ of a second. TAG Heuer is the official timekeeper of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, so it seemed only right it would also be our unofficial timekeeper for the morning!
Available now in the Classic Driver Shop and limited to just 500 pieces, the watch boasts a green sunray-brushed dial, capturing the current desire for green collectibles. It’s a colour that has been particularly popular with car aficionados – and the Classic Driver team – of late! As the sky lightens, the green looks particularly stunning, and we climb out of the marina and head down towards the seafront.
With the sun lighting up the XK120’s dashboard and the road ahead, it’s hard to think of a more perfect alternative to being in Monaco right now. Driving a 1950s competition car through one of England’s most iconic seaside towns is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up – or maybe it’s the cool morning breeze blowing past the sleek roadster’s tiny windscreens?
And to put the finishing touch on our morning, instead of enjoying champagne and oysters at the Fairmont, we finished our lap of Brighton with the classic British combination of fish and chips on the pier.