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About Quiz #384: has anybody seen the 1935 Lancefield Hotchkiss?


Has anybody seen the Lancefield Hotchkiss?

Quiz #384 was both a Quiz & a Mystery. What it is, is quite clear. At least to some of you. With the help of jury member Alan Spencer we decided that Barrie Down came up with the best answer: "The French manufacturer Hotchkiss showed this unique prototype at the 1935 London Motor Show. The London coachbuilder Lancefield demonstrated the most recent of their Art Deco developments after a 1934 Siddeley Special and the 1935 Hudson 8 Transcontinental featuring slab-sided streamlining and built-in headlights. This example, designed by Jock Betteridge, illustrated more three-dimensional streamlining and is credited with being the first car to incorporate doors being carried over into the roof without rain gutters or glass panels for rain protection. In 1935 Hotchkiss produced a variety of 4 and 6 cylinder cars but the identity of this chassis is unknown." Congratulations Barrie!

Having said that, the mystery of the car that was last seen in the senties remains. One of our visitors has assured us that the owner of that era is still with us, so we can only hope he will pop up and tell a bit more. 

There have probably been more 'unknown' cars through the years than successful ones. There are many reasons why some cars fall into the cracks of history, but, if we are being honest, most of the forgotten designs have been lost to time because they simply weren't very good. That can't be said of this glamorous Hotchkiss 686 Super Sports, bodied by English coachbuilder Lancefield in 1935. A rakish sporting saloon, the car featured doors dramatically cut into the low roofline to afford more access, low-set concealed Marchal headlamps and a sumptuous interior with built-in cigarette cases. The coachwork was finished in stylish grey with red coach lines.

So why has this exotic concoction been all but forgotten? Well, the car's debut, at the 1935 Olympia motor show, was also the first public airing of the Bugatti Aerolithe. One of the most beautiful and desirable cars of all time, it easily upstaged everything else in sight, and the poor Hotchkiss was left in the shadows, failing to find a buyer. It wasn't registered until 1938, by which time fashion had moved on and it was simply another old car, albeit a particularly dramatic one. The only known photograph of the car was published at the time by Automobile Engineer magazine, and is shown here. So who can show us an image of the front-end, so we can discover the secret of those concealed headlamps? Were they mounted behind the grille à la Peugeot 302? Last seen in the 1970s, the car would surely make a huge splash on the concours circuit today if it were discovered and restored – though it would still, no doubt, be upstaged by the newly recreated Aerolithe.

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Bart Oosterling NL
Bas de Voogd / Rutger Booy NL team
Bob Swanson USA Sports Cars & Racing Cars
Carleton Hughes USA
Ced Pearce South-Africa Ford & Cord
Chris Paulsen USA Brass Era (pre-1916) cars
David Green NZ
Dick Trenk (deceased 2010) USA US cars
Dominique Barbault F French Cars
Don Edwards USA US Classics
Eduard Hattuma NL
Fons Alkemade NL French automobiles
Frans Vrijaldenhoven NL Dutch Automobile Historian
Fried Stol NL
Hans Compter NZ
Harry Schley Germany
Henk Visscher NL Firsts in Car Industry
Ian Hayhurst Canada pre-1916 autos / early Mopar
Ingo Jost Germany German Cars
James Helms USA
João Pedro Gazineu Brazil
John Barringer UK
John Robins UK
Jon Baker Australia
José A. Gómez Argentina
Josef Kubista CZ
Joseph P. McCormick USA
Kit Foster USA US cars 1920-1960, Stanley Steamers
Kjetil Langsaether Norway
Lars-Göran Lindgren S brass era cars
Luke Chennel USA
Marc Fellman Australia
Mark Dawber NZ
Mike Clark GB Vintage Cars.
Mike Tebbett UK cyclecars
Mike Turner USA
Nicolas Boissier France
Paul Linster L French & Britsh sports cars
Peter Ransom Australia
Richard Armstrong UK
Radu Comsa Romania
Raul Valkila Finland
Reg Harris Australia Citroën and English cars
Robb Stewart USA early racing and sports cars
Robbie Marenzi Argentina
Roger Fields USA
Rutger Booy / Bas de Voogd NL team
Stuart Penketh Thailand
Theo Castricum NL US cars
Tom Chaney USA
Verner Johnson DK