1910 Hotchkiss Type X6 Series 1 20/30HP

1910 Hotchkiss Type X6 Series 1 20/30HP Roi-des-Belges Tourer

Like so many contemporary high quality motor car manufacturers of the Edwardian era the history of the Hotchkiss establishment was rooted in arms manufacture – a process that demanded the highest standards in precision engineering which they would ultimately carry forward into motor car manufacture. At the invitation of Louis Bonaparte, (Napoleon III), Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss (1826-1885) had set up an arms factory at Vivierz in the Aveyron in France in 1867; he patented the Hotchkiss revolving canon in 1872 and set up a factory in St. Denis in 1875. In 1887 Hotchkiss was re-capitalised by British investors becoming a subsidiary of the newly formed Hotchkiss Ordnance Co. Ltd, of London. In 1903 George Terasse, who had established his credentials with Mors, designed the first Hotchkiss motor car, the Type C, which featured mechanical inlet valves, honeycomb radiator and a steel chassis in Mercedes fashion and, more importantly, the famous 'Hotchkiss drive' – a live rear axle with open propeller shaft, its torque being taken by the rear springs. From the outset Hotchkiss targeted the upper end of the market, participating in the still new-fangled motor sport in the early years - indeed fielding a mighty 18.9 litre racing car in the high profile 1905 Gordon Bennett Trials. Luxury touring cars were however the company's stock-in-trade and in 1906 Hotchkiss were to follow the trend adopted by Rolls-Royce, Napier, Panhard-Levassor and other manufacturers in the upper echelons of the industry by introducing their first six-cylinder motor car.

The Type X6 of 1910 featured a six-cylinder, side-valve engine, the cylinders cast in pairs and displacing 4.8 litres. Ignition was by magneto and fuel was provided by just one carburettor – cooling was by the distinctive round honeycomb radiator which distinguished the marque Hotchkiss. This car is believed to be one of just two survivors of the Type X6 – 27 were built in 1910 and 51 in 1911/12. Australian enthusiast Ian Marchant bought the car for £50 from a scrapyard in Warragul, Australia, in 1956 and it first appeared as a complete chassis in 1988 in the May edition of Brass Notes – the magazine of the Veteran Car Club of Australia. British VCC enthusiast, the late Peter Howarth, bought the car in a dismantled state in 1991 and it arrived at his Pinner home (in 14 boxes) in August that year. A meticulous restoration was embarked upon – no detail being spared - and a magnificent Roi-de-Belges style tourer body was constructed to complement the engineering standards of the French arms manufacturer. The engine rebuild was completed in 1993 and the restoration completed in the Autumn of 1995.

It would be hard to imagine a car that more typifies Edwardian elegance than This car. The multiple compound curves of the Roi-de-Belges coachwork, finished in blue livery, are furnished with deep buttoned black leather upholstery and the car is generously equipped with brass fittings and a two piece folding windscreen. Note particularly the detail on the rear door pockets with the Hotchkiss motif and the additional map pockets for the rear seat passengers. The folding hood arrangement in itself is an engineering masterpiece. Driving equipment includes BRC Alpha No.30 'bullseye' acetylene headlamps, Lucas oil side and rear lamps and a brass rear view mirror, while a bulb horn gives audible warning of approach. A practical feature of the car are the detachable wheels and a complete spare wheel – all on Dunlop beaded edge tyres. The driver presides over an Elliott Brothers speedometer and distance recorder, a Hotchkiss & Co. Graisseur Lefebvre oiler with four drip feed sight glasses, central throttle pedal, a fuel primer pump and brass dashboard timepiece, while the hand throttle and magneto advance/retard controls are mounted on the steering wheel.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams & other

Production Start 1910
Country of origin France