Hotchkiss started making the high quality cars for which they became very well known in St. Denis, Paris in 1903. They were advanced machines from the outset and Georgano’s excellent Encyclopedia tells us that their first car had very modern features for the time including mechanical inlet valves, a ball bearing crankshaft, a honeycomb radiator, a steel chassis frame and a live axle driven by an open propeller shaft with the torque being taken by the rear springs. Over the next two decades they produced a variety of cars of varying sizes and in 1924 they introduced their successful AM range. This originally had a four cylinder 2½ litre side valve engine which was upgraded to overhead valves in 1926 when it was named as the AM2 which Georgano describes model as an excellent fast touring car.
This particular example was built for its first owner in 1930 on a long wheel base chassis and was bodied by Hotchkiss in their own coachbuilding factory as a Chantilly model with 6 windows and 7 seats including two occasional seats in the rear. He was a cattle broker who would use the car to drive the 350 mile round trip from his home in Laval to Paris and he also toured it to Belgium as well as in the South of France. When he gave up driving in 1956 it was put in a barn on his daughter’s farm where it remained and gently aged until purchased in 1988 by its present (and only its second) owner who’s wife was a childhood friend of the French owner’s daughter.
He is a properly trained engineer who over the years has very sensitively refurbished the car. He has fully reconditioned the engine, the gearbox and the rear drive train including the differential and also fitted heavy duty rear half shafts. The car has also been upgraded with improvements which are known to the British Hotchkiss Society such as a Hotchkiss AM80 type water pump, a heavy duty head gasket with larger holes giving improved cooling to the rearmost cylinder, a by-pass oil filter with an extra oil feed to the timing gears. As a result the engine sounds really good and pulls well plus the gearbox and transmission are quiet and smooth.
When it was new the car was finished in burgundy and black and it was professionally resprayed in the same colours by Sean Watson of Middle Wallop who has also painted cars for actor and car collector Rowan Atkinson. The interior trim, which is really lovely and very period, is original apart from the front seats and the door panels which were recovered with a silk mix fabric woven specially to the correct colour and pattern on a Jacquard loom with the front seats being re-sprung at the same time. The car also has its original rubber front floor mats which incorporate the Hotchkiss logo.
As a result of all this painstaking work the car (affectionately known as Pepe after its first owner) is in very good condition and is lovely to drive. Given that it has formal coachwork it is surprising lively having a very fair turn of speed with good steering, handling and braking to match.
Its present owner and his wife have toured it extensively on British Hotchkiss Society Runs including visiting the Hotchkiss Paris factory in 2000, a trip to Normandy and Brittany in 2002, a tour round Berkshire and Oxfordshire in 2003, drives to Brittany, the Vendee. the Charente and the Loire in 2006 and to Devon and Dartmoor in 2008 plus they took part in many British Hotchkiss Society weekend runs. It has also been used for the weddings of family members and friends including that of the grandson of original owner which took place in Normandy in 1999.
So we are able to offer you a high quality very stylish and very rare two owner French built motor car with a continuous personal history from its original delivery right through to its present owner. It is very well presented and in lovely useable condition and I believe it would be difficult for you to find a better all-round Hotchkiss of this type.