The company was formed in 1893 at St Philips, Bristol, as Brazil, Straker & Co by the Irish Engineer J.P. Brazil and the London motor agent Sidney Straker. In 1899 Sidney Straker joined forces with Edward Bayley and went into production of steam wagons, joining in partnership with L.R.L. Squire in 1904 and production reached 200 steam wagons by 1906.
In 1907 the company moved into a new factory on Lodge Causeway, Fishponds, at first to manufacture commercial vehicles, including large numbers of early London Buses, and a French car design under licence. The company also produced and successfully raced a number of its own car designs.
When World War I started, Sir Roy Fedden, their chief designer, convinced the company to take on aircraft engine repair and manufacture, and that arm of the company was taken over by Cosmos Engineering in 1918. The company built staff cars and lorries during the war and afterwards, all production moved to Edmonton in North London in 1919. Car production continued until 1926 and Sidney Straker was killed in a hunting accident not long afterwards.
By 1901 Straker were building an entire wagon This exchanged the previous gear drive to the rear axle with a chain drive. Although other steam wagons used chain drives, this was the first to use a single chain, with the differential mounted on the axle rather than the chassis, and with a chain to each wheel. The rear wheels were large in diameter and constructed on the traction engine pattern, with two rows of narrow built-up spokes. As these wheels were too large to fit under the load deck of the wagon, they were mounted outboard of it, requiring an extra-long axle. These wagons were sold by the 'Straker Steam Vehicle Co' with offices at 9 Bush Lane, London and the works in Bristol. They took part in the War Office Trials at Aldershot of 1901, where they were awarded £100, and 1902 By 1902 the rear wheels had been reduced in diameter and now had six broader spokes from a flat sheet: a single sheet for the 2 ton, doubled for the 5 and 7 ton models. The steam engine itself was a two-cylinder compound, with cylinders of 7" stroke and 4" and 7" diameter. The transmission was relatively crude, using open gears rather than the enclosed oil-bath that was in use amongst other makers, and indeed used for the high-speed engine of their 2-ton light tractor. Two gears were provided, but one was only intended for hill-climbing and could only be selected from alongside the engine, not from the driver's cab.