Richard-Brasier Type O 16hp Four cylinder Side Entrance Tonneau

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Type O 16hp Four cylinder Side Entrance Tonneau





Charles-Henri Brasier worked briefly with Panhard and then for some years with Émile Mors before, at the age of 35, he set himself up as an automobile manufacturer on his own account. He did this in partnership with Georges Richard, who together with his brother Max had been building cars since the late 1890s at Ivry-Port, Seine, France, the two of them establishing the Richard-Brasier business in 1902. 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. 1903 also marked the first appearance of Brasier's famous four-leaf clover logo, or 'Trefle a Quatre'. 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.

At Mors he had been chief engineer responsible for their hugely successful racing cars so, as a start, he designed a 400kg voiturette for the 1903 Paris-Madrid race. The shaft-driven Richard-Brasier had a 2,271cc four-cylinder T-head engine, and examples finished 2nd, 4th and 16th in the voiturette category, but this was only the beginning. 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. They ended the 1904 season having constructed 624 cars and with a unique Grand Slam in motor sport history, winning both of the major automobile races and both of the major powerboat competitions, all using the same Brasier-designed 9.9-litre GB4 engine. In addition, 'Trefle a Quatre' had broken the water speed record. As a reward for his achievements Henri Brasier was made Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur by the President of the French Republic at the Paris Salon that December. 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.

By 1905, relations had broken down between the partners due to Richard being frequently away from his desk due to his motor racing activities and, it was reported, injuries he sustained as a result. The strained relations prompted Richard to leave the company that year to found Unic.

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