Hotchkiss HistoryThe first automobile created by Hotchkiss appeared in 1903. It was a four-cylinder unit which was rather advanced for its day, since most manufacturers were still producing one-cylinder units. Quickly a new model appeared, the 40CV Type C that drew its design inspiration from the Mercedes Simplex. By 1907 the Hotchkiss Company was powering its vehicles by a six-cylinder engine.
The Hotchkiss et Cie was located in Saint-Denis, Paris and produced vehicles from 1903 through 1955. The company would endure the First and Second World Wars, the Great Depression, and outlive most of its competition. In 1954 the Hotchkiss Company merged with Delahaye to become Société Hotchkiss-Delahaye. Production would continue for another year before switching over to the production of license built Jeeps. The company was taken over in 1956 by a household appliance maker named Brandt, to become Hotchkiss-Brandt. Again in 1966 the company was again taken over to become Thomson-Houston. The company produced military vehicles from 1967 through 1971.
Many mechanical components produced, used, and created by Hotchkiss during the early 1900's was revolutionary. Instead of using plain bearings, they chose to use ball bearings. These bearings would continue to be found in their engines until the 30CV Type X of 1910.
During the First World War a subsidiary plant was opened in Coventry, England while the main factories turned their efforts towards the production of military equipment. After the war, production resumed and soon the Type AD, AD6, AF, and AG was introduced.
During the early 1920's the company attempted to create a luxury vehicle but the work never got beyond the prototype stage. By 1923 the direction of the company changed with their focus turning towards becoming a one-car company. The company began with their Coventry designed AM which would last until 1929 when the company went back to producing multiple models. At this time they introduced the AM73 and AM80, both powered by six-cylinder engines.
In 1923 the Coventry plant was sold to Morris. The Hotchkiss plant manager, Henry Ainsworth, moved to Paris where he became general manager and chief engineer of the car division. Production of a new factory, in the Boulevard Ornano, soon began and by 1926 it was completed. Hotchkiss purchased a steel pressing company which would allow the Hotchkiss Company to bring their body work in-house, instead of outsourcing the work.
The AM series was produced until 1933 when a new naming system was adapted. The new naming system used the first number to represent the number of cylinders in the engine while the rest of the numbers represented the horsepower, in CV. The 411 was a model powered by a four-cylinder engine that produced 11CV. The other four-cylinder model at this time was the 413. The six-cylinder options were the 615, 617, and 620. The 636 was introduced in 1936 and served as a performance option for the Hotchkiss line of vehicles.
In 1937, the Hotchkiss Company merged with Amilcar.
With World War II nearing, the Front Populaire Government nationalized the body stamping and armament side of the company. They began producing military vehicles and light tanks.
In 1942 the Peugeot Company purchased the Hotchkiss Company. By 1946 production of the Hotchkiss vehicles resumed with the production of tractors and light trucks.
Production of automobiles continued during the close of the 1940's and into the early 1950's. They had bought the rights to the Gregoire front-wheel drive car and by 1951 were producing a version of this vehicle, though it was expensive. A new body style, the Anjou, was introduced in 1950. The Antheor cabriolet joined the line up in 1952. With all these introductions and modernizations of their vehicle line-up, they were poised to continue building vehicles, but sloping sales forced them to cease production by 1952.
The company merged with Delahaye in 1954.