1935 Hotchkiss AM80 Racing car (Available)
3 Litre 6 Cylinder engine
The legendary and fearless record setters of the inter-war years have always been a source of fascination to me, along with many historic car enthusiasts. I grew up with stories of Brooklands and Montlhery and the motoring leviathans that were pushed to their limits around those hallowed and legendary “Speed Bowls”. Many of the cars used in those days survive – The Birkin Bentley, Derby Maserati, Napier Railton, MG Bellevue, being just a few of those high-profile cars. Sadly however, not all did survive and you’re often left to wonder what happened to ‘that’ car in the grainy black and white image and how would it look, sound and feel today if it had it survived the inevitable finance director’s sword.
One of those lost leviathans staring back at you from that grainy black and white image was from the Paris stable of Hotchkiss; a record setting developed AM80 3 litre 6 cylinder single seater. Her record log still remains a very impressive read to this day. For those cars that have now rested for nearly a century, there are, as I understand it, two routes back to life from these grainy original photographs. Firstly and ideally, is to find the original remains buried in the ground or in a barn. Secondly, the car can be recreated by the laborious process of searching many auto-jumbles and adverts, finding all the correct parts from marque of car and to build afresh, to create a true reincarnation of that lost car. Here, we are delighted to offer for sale one such example; the Hotchkiss AM80 Replica, built during the last 10 years and she is every inch the reflection of her lost historical counterpart.
The Montlhery record attempts:
12th-28th September 1929. Over these 16 day over 40,000 kms were covered with an average speed of 106km/hr with 46 world records achieved, this first incarnation what immediately recognizable with there trade marque Hotchkiss radiator, a heavily raked windshield improved aerodynamics. In the first 10 days 1000 laps per day were covered with driver changes every 300 laps and 26500kms covered. A copy of the official record log is in the history file. As the years progressed the car evolved from 1929 – 1934 the car was much a closed cockpit with cigar shape, with a number of spot-lamps positioned in the front cowl the rear finished with long tapering tail behind the driver.
The car as offered today is as I have said earlier is very much of the body style of the final 1935 open cockpit evaluation as seen in competition in the 21st September 1935 in the BRDC 500 miles race at Brooklands. The car being piloted by Albert Divo and Harry Rose at this event was powered by a normally aspirated 2 liter 4 cylinder, the preferred power unit and pitching themselves against the might of the six cylinder 1986cc Riley’s. The fastest of the Riley’s lapped at 111.94mph, where as the Hotchkiss managed a creditable 110mph and finished 6th overall. The copied magazine articles covering these exploits in detail accompany this extraordinary Replica motorcar.
The Modern Era:
The AM80 Hotchkiss remained lost to our generation until a chance meeting of two men; Steve Smith, who has run a company called Vibration Free for years and, after a run out in a customer’s pre World War Two “Talbot Lago’s” he decided that he needed to own something Pre-war himself. That client, VSCC stalwart John Guyatt, happened to have a Hotchkiss AM 80 project sitting in an out building and available. A deal was swiftly done, Steve decided that the final 1935 Divo version of the record braking car was the one he would return to life, and so the ultimate evolution of Hotchkiss’s record car was to be reborn. From 1929 to 1935 Hotchkiss constantly evolved their single AM80 record car through I believe 6 evolutions, but it was sadly culled as a project in 1935, and the original failed to survive the Second World War.
The exact fascinating story of Steve’s build process is well documented in magazine articles in the car’s history file, but suffice it to say that 3D scanning and the most skilled of panel working led to its shape. Along side sound engineering practice, running to a custom made crankshaft, new connecting rods and “off the shelf” new pistons contributing to the rebuild of the “oily bits” and Steve produced, after four years of dedicated labor, this wonderful attention-grabbing machine.
Recognized by major clubs and events this car has taken part at Donnington Historic Festival, Silverstone Classic, Chateau Impney and Historic Zandvoort as well as many VSCC races and speed events and “Piston and Props” style displays. At these events the Hotchkiss and Steve have played to the crowd in the packed grandstands, with her wayward tail slides which are easily held on the throttle with finger tips balancing the sometimes wild angles, putting smiles on everyone faces but mainly Steve’s as, Steve says ‘she’s a pussycat to drive.’ Once away from the confines on the racetrack, the open road provides a fun playground, helped by the straight through pipes (Silencer option come with the car) Other traffic seems to jump for cover, which perhaps is because the cockpit is rather like that of a WW2 fighter aircraft (complete with Audery Hotchkiss looking up at you from just above the gear selector) - all part of Steve’s playfulness! Once in town parking places are a doddle, parallel yellow lines make for a great landing strip! Soon camouflaged with on lookers several people deep she steals show, a bit like in every race paddock/event she attends!
Whilst Steve had retired from Historic competition driving fully five years before he set to with the Hotchkiss, now her feels it is time to nurture the enthusiasm of his and Alison’s daughter Rebecca in the vintage car world, a new smaller toy is in the offing, Rather than just park the Hotchkiss up he has decided it is time to allow another to share the joy; undoubted fun and honor of campaigning this genuinely epic motor car.