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Its’s a Bird? It’s a Plane? No It’s The Richard Special


Odder things have crossed our desk but this car rates right up there on the unusual scale. It is the Richard Special that was built by the Richard Motor Mfg. Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. The engine and chassis were built by Francis Richard who was stated in Automobile Topics to be the brother of George S. Richard, the designer of the Richard-Brasier. This has been proven incorrect and more can be learned about him in the comments below. In 1904 Leon Thery won the prestigious Gordon Bennett race with one of Richard’s racing cars.

According to the May 27, 1916, Automobile Topics, this car was owned by racing driver Robert H. Delno, who licensed it with the AAA and entered it in the 1916 Indianapolis 500. The engine had a 3.750-inch bore x 8.937-inch stroke with a displacement of 296.6 c.i. It evidently ran in the time trials, but was a non-starter in the race. Delno was a racing driver during the mid-teens from the Southwest. He won four races in a 16-valve Stutz at Phoenix in 1916. The photo is from the Library of Congress.

8 responses to “Its’s a Bird? It’s a Plane? No It’s The Richard Special

  1. A few remarks about the Richard brothers and Brasier. It was in fact Henri Brasier who designed the winning Gordon Bennett Cup racer. Shortly before this race Georges Richard had left the firm, because he disagreed with Brasier on racing after having had an almost fatal accident during the Paris-Madrid race in 1903. After the Gordon Bennett Cup victory the cars were renamed Richard-Brasier (although there was even a short period that the cars had the name Georges Richard-Brasier). In 1907 the name was changed to only Brasier. According to my information Georges Richard had two brothers, Félix Maxime and Jules, so it is not clear to me if this Francis Richard really is related to Georges Richard.

  2. Some additional information: the builders name was Francois RiChard, also frequent spelled Francis Richard. He was born in France. Also the company was described as “RiChard Auto MAnufacturing Company of Cleveland Ohio” in a 1916 stock offering.

    Prior to the involvement with the above vehicle, he was involved with among others Alfred Vanderbilt’s 250 HP twin FIAT engine special built for 1906 Daytona Beach races. Link Select to the description of the racer for mention of RiChard’s involvement.

    The stock offering has a history of a Mr. Francois RiChard, listed as President and General manager of the firm, and the designer of the auto to be manufactured by the company. Of course, just because it says so in the stock offering does not necessarily make it so, however many of the items mentioned in the offering are verified by other information.

    1. The mention of designing and constructing Alfred Vanderbilt’s 250 HP twin engine racer.

    2. The stock offering (1916) mentions either a similar or identical car as in the picture in this post: “On May 30th, the RiChard racing car is to race in the Indianapolis races.”

    3. The design shown for the car to be manufactured and sold to the public is very similar to the Indianapolis racer, and is described at length in the stock offering.

    4. The offering lists a number of US Patents assigned to the company.

    link to stock offering document:

  3. Your getting closer.!. George Richards left Brazier prior to 1904, as he
    built his first George Richard UNIC.. in 1904, a 2 cyl car of which I have one.. experts say there is little info about re him. he was also involved in the design of the MORS racers as well. One of his 4cyl.UNIC’s won a hill
    climb at the Blue Mountains ( Katoomba ) NSW Australia circa 1910.. thank you again for your wonderful info…. John..

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