1901 Georges Richard 3½ hp Single-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear Entrance Tonneau Coachwork by Vedrine, Paris Registration no. BS 8041 Chassis no. 419 Engine no. 429
The history of the Georges Richard marque is inextricably bound up with that of Brasier. Georges Richard founded the eponymous French make in 1893 in partnership with his brother, Maxime. 'Société des Anciens Établissements Georges Richard' occupied premises in the Parisian suburb of Ivry-Port, though the company did not actually make any cars until 1897. Already established as manufacturers of high-quality bicycles, the Richard brothers offered a Benz-like car at first, to which was added a smaller voiturette model licensed from the Belgian manufacturer, Vivinus.
In 1901, engineer Henri Brasier left Mors to join Georges Richard, the Vivinus derived model continuing in production at first while new designs were prepared. Brasier's new range of larger cars was 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. The cars were renamed 'Richard-Brasier' for 1904 and plain 'Brasier' after 1905 following Georges Richard's departure to found Unic.
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.
This Vivinus-type Georges Richard was imported into the UK in 1988 and has been in the current ownership for the last 25 years. Little is known of the car's previous history, though reputedly it came from a museum in Toulouse. Restored in 1990, it is powered by a 785cc 3½ hp single-cylinder engine, which drives the rear wheels via a three-speed gearbox with belt final drive, and is capable of reaching 25mph. We are advised that the gearbox also contains a reverse gear, though the original owner omitted to purchase a crucial 'extra' the operating lever!
'BS 8401' has completed numerous London-Brighton Runs and other similar events, on the first occasion with the engine running backwards and the belt configuration altered to suit. The transmission arrangement has since been returned to standard and wheels of the correct size fitted. Described as in generally good condition, this early French Veteran is offered with VCC dating certificate, SORN and Swansea V5 document. The deep buttoned and pleated brown leather seats present well, as does the cream coachwork with polished wooden wings. Noteworthy accessories include a single head lamp, brass horn and a wicker umbrella holder. A slightly later Claudel carburettor is the only notified deviation from factory specification. The original Georges Richard carburettor, stamped with the engine number, is included in the sale.