1939 Hotchkiss 686 GS Modane Coupé

1939 Hotchkiss 686 GS Modane Coupé

One of the great French makers of 'Grandes Routières', Hotchkiss of St Denis, Paris enjoyed a near-stranglehold on the Monte Carlo Rally in the period 1932-1950, with six outright victories from ten Rallies, plus several placings and class wins. The vendor believes that this is the car driven by Mmes Y Simon and S Largeot to 8th place overall in the 1939 Monte, winning the Ladies' Cup, having started the event from Athens. When its former owner, motor sports photographer Guy Griffiths, bought 'FUW 999' from the preceding owner, C L W Barker, he was told that it 'had been a successful Monte Carlo works car, possibly a winner...'

This fine example of the potent short-chassis GS (Grand Sport) was first registered in the UK in April 1939 to racing driver Dudley Folland, who raced under the pseudonym, 'Tim Davies'. The car incorporates many non-standard fittings such as a competition-modified cylinder head, cockpit-adjustable André shock absorbers, sump guard, heavy duty steel wheels, twin horns, additional lighting (not currently fitted), rev counter, under-bonnet and boot lights all of which supports the conclusion that it was prepared for rallying.

The Hotchkiss 686 GS stands in the front rank of 1930s sporting cars, with a 0-50mph acceleration time superior to that of contemporary Derby Bentleys and V12 Lagondas. Guy Griffiths used the Hotchkiss for frequent tours to the Continent, remarking: 'The performance is outstanding, better than a Bugatti T57... the Hotchkiss is capable of 100mph...'. Only a very select band of 3½-litre cars could match that in 1938; indeed, the Grand Sport typified its maker's proud slogan 'le Juste Milieu' ('the Golden Mean'), for it represented astounding value for money compared with the rest of Europe's best.

The 686 GS was launched in 1936 as a more potent derivative of the 'Paris-Nice' model on a shortened 9ft 2in wheelbase chassis and with an engine tuned to produce some 125bhp. With duo-servo Bendix brakes and semi-elliptic suspension fore and aft, its specification was deceptively simple yet effective.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams & flickr & carthrottle

Production Start 1939
Country of origin France