The Brasier marque originated in 1901 when engineer Henri Brasier left Mors to join Georges Richard, who together with his brother Max had been building cars since the late 1890s at Ivry-Port, Seine, France. The Richards had offered a Benz-like car at first, to which was added a smaller voiturette model licensed from the Belgian manufacturer, Vivinus. Previously called 'Georges Richard', the cars were renamed 'Richard-Brasier' for 1904 and plain 'Brasier' after 1905 following Georges Richard's departure to found Unic. On his arrival Henri Brasier had instigated a new range of larger cars constructed along Panhard lines, consisting of four chain-driven models with two and four-cylinder engines ranging in power from 10 to 40hp. Pressed steel chassis frames were the norm by 1904, while chain drive survived on only the largest models, shaft drive having been adopted on the others.
It was in 1904 that Richard-Brasier gained the first of its two consecutive victories in the Gordon Bennett Cup. First run in 1900 in France, the latter took its name from founder James Gordon Bennett Jr, millionaire owner of the New York Herald newspaper and himself a keen sportsman. Contested by national teams, the races were hosted in the country of the previous year's winner until 1905, after which the Automobile Club de France organised the first motor racing Grand Prix at Le Mans. But prior to the coming of Grands Prix, the Gordon Bennett Cup was the most prized trophy of them all.
The 1903 race had been won by the Belgian driver Camille Jenatzy driving a German Mercedes, so the 1904 event was run in Germany around a circuit in the Taunus Mountains. Victory went to the 9.9-litre 80hp Richard-Brasier of Léon Théry, who retained the Cup the following year at the Circuit d'Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand driving an 11.2-litre 90hp car. This was, arguably, the high point of Brasier's fortunes, for the company went into decline after The Great War and was acquired by the bicycle manufacturer Chaigneau in 1926, after which it continued to produce cars under the Chaigneau-Brasier name for a few more years.
The Richard-Brasier offered here, a correct matching numbers example, is powered by the 2,271cc four-cylinder engine with a maker's rating of 16 horsepower, and carries its original four-seater, side-entrance tonneau coachwork by the Company Française de Materiel de Chemins de Fer. The latter's works was in the Parisian suburb of Ivry-Port where Richard-Brasier had its factory. Little is known of the Richard-Brasier's history prior to its acquisition by the Dutch museum, Autotron in 1975. While in Autotron's ownership the decommissioned Richard-Brasier was displayed and not used until Nick Crewdson was appointed by the Museum to put the car back on the road some 25 years later.
The current vendor bought the car in December 2000 immediately after its successful run to Brighton that year. Documentation on file includes an emailed letter from Nick Crewdson recalling the work he did for Autotron in 1999 to prepare the car for the 'Run', having collected it from Holland that spring. This included overhauling the engine with new valve seats and guides; re-boring the cylinders; repairing the con-rods; regrinding the crankshaft and white-metaling all bearings; and fitting new pistons sourced from the USA. In addition, the wheels were rebuilt with new rims; the clutch replaced; a new track rod and steering arm installed; the magneto overhauled; an ignition advance/retard linkage fabricated; and a substitute carburettor fitted. The gearbox and rear axle were inspected but deemed not to require any work. As the car had stood for over 25 years, much of the refurbishment involved making parts that were missing, broken or seized. Nick's letter concludes: 'I think you have a very nice car and one of the best I have driven.' Also on file is a bill from Brentclass for various works including the manufacture of a new windscreen and the design and manufacture of rear wheel brakes.
Noteworthy features of this imposing Veteran motor car include Phares Besnard, France brass head lamps numbered '835', carriage side lamps, J & R Oldfield Ltd, Birmingham brass rear lamp, Willocq-Bottin, Bruxelles acetylene generator, bulb horn and a Henry Hamelle oiler. The coachwork is finished in caramel brown and black with brass cappings, black wings, black wheels with gold detailing, and original deep button-backed brown leather upholstery.
Since its acquisition by the current vendor, the Richard-Brasier has completed the London to Brighton Run every year, along with several other events, with the exception of 2011 when a house move prevented it from taking part. Highlights of the car's extensive European rallying include the 2005 Gordon Bennett Centenary event at Clermont Ferrand, France and the 2008 Dieppe Retro event where the Richard-Brasier was judged the most significant and important entrant by the President of the Association des Musées Automobiles de France.
Described as in generally very good/excellent condition, the car is offered with the aforementioned documentation, VCC dating certificate (number '2338'), Science Museum dating certificate, VSCC 'buff form', copies of old Brasier advertisements, current road fund licence, current MoT and Swansea V5C registration document. BS 8337 comes with an accepted entry in the 2012 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.