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The Magazine

The Last Hotchkiss

The Last Hotchkiss

What can you tell about the car in the photograph above? It’s a sober black saloon from the early 1950s. The styling is a little on the heavy side, and it all looks somehow unfamiliar. Students of motoring’s great failures will recognise it at once as the Hotchkiss-Grégoire, the last all-new car launched by the French company.
The car was the brainchild of front wheel-drive pioneer Jean-Albert Grégoire, and was a total break from the traditional Hotchkiss product. It featured a 2.2-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels, complicated suspension with horizontal coil springs in tension and a cast aluminium main structure to which aluminium panels were attached.
It was also difficult to build, vastly expensive to buy and unusual to look at. Fewer than 250 were sold and Hotchkiss stopped producing cars altogether shortly after production of the Grégoire ended. But was it actually any good? With only a handful of survivors still in use, few people have the opportunity to discover for themselves. In the latest issue of The Automobile, which is out now, the only roadworthy Hotchkiss-Grégoire in England is put through its paces – but you’ll have to read the full story to find out the verdict. 

(Photographs by Nick Clements)


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