History of brands. Hotchkiss: the brand of the man who never built a car
Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss was born on 1er October 1826 in Watertown, USA. He soon left school for an apprenticeship in a mechanic shop, where he learned a lot.
In 1855, together with his brother Andrew, he developed an artillery shell, then fulfilled an order for ammunition for his country, which began the Civil War.
In 1867 he came to Europe to start new activities and founded the Hotchkiss company in Saint-Denis. The company’s logo features two cross cannons covered with grenades, all surrounded by a belt with a buckle, a near exact copy of the United States military insignia.
Military supplies bring prosperity
In 1872, Benjamin Hotchkiss invented a machine gun that would be found in all armed forces for nearly 50 years. After his death in 1885, the company passed into the hands of his French associates under the name Société des ancien establishments Hotchkiss et compagnie.
A large fleet of high-precision machines allows the company to produce crankshafts, pistons, etc. from car manufacturers. got orders. The experience encouraged them to develop the engine and chassis: the first prototype was released in 1903.
1904, Hotchkiss becomes an automobile manufacturer
On February 26, 1904, the Department of Mines purchased an 18 hp type G, followed by an 80 hp type E with a displacement of 17.8 liters in May 1904. If these cars were racing, the first customer model was the D-type in 1904 (35 hp), followed by the 17-hp F-type in 1907. That model traveled 34,000 km through France, England, and Scotland that year. and Ireland.
In 1908, the brand switched to 6 cylinders with 30 and 50 hp engines. Before the 1914 war, Hotchkiss released three other 6-cylinder models, including the AF and AG types. During the war, Hotchkiss produced 400 vehicles for the army.
The golden age since 1920
At the 1922 Paris Motor Show, Hotchkiss introduced the AM 12 HP, which took the slogan “the happy middle car” and synthesized the voices of wealthy bourgeois customers seeking comfort and restraint. A new line of 4 or 6 cylinder engines to be produced from autumn 1925 to 1954 with some technical improvements.
In 1929, the brand set 13 world records at Montlhéry and won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1932, 1933 and 1934. The influence of aerodynamics from the 1934 show marked the bodywork: a slightly sloping radiator grille, an integrated and streamlined body; the difference in the lines of the cars.
After the capture of Amilcar in 1936, Hotchkiss proposed the Amilcar Compound, a prototype studied by engineer Jean-Albert Grégoire; modern (front wheel and independent wheels), but too expensive to win. And the war ended the sale.
Rebirth in salvation
After developing the body of the Tudor electric car in 1942, Hotchkiss began producing parts for the Willys Jeep from 1946, and then marketed Jeeps until 1966 when it developed heavy trucks.
During this period, the design offices developed three new models, including the 686, which would win the Monte Carlo rally in 1949. In 1950, the Artois models were replaced by the Anjou with improved bodywork.
In 1951, the brand offered the Hotchkiss-Grégoire, a 6-seater front-wheel drive car. The problem: it’s too expensive to produce because the car was 15 years ahead of its time… The 2050 L sedan would be the last touring model Hotchkiss produced before going heavyweight.
In 1955, Hotchkiss bought the Delahaye brand and continued military production, producing the first PL-25 truck. In 1956, Hotchkiss merged with Brandt and produced 2,600 light armored vehicles, especially for Federal Germany.
At the same time, Hotchkiss studies and produces the HB 40 (Hotchkiss-Bouffort) intended for the French polar expeditions (EPF). In March 1963, after many improvements, the car crosses more than 60% slopes, 45-60% slopes.
In the field of heavy trucks, Hotchkiss produced the first tilt-forward cab in 1964 on its PL-60 (6 ton GVW).