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“Manchester Show – are you coming too?”

Are you coming to the show?

The lady stepping into her motor car seems to be suggesting that we would be welcome to join her. And such is the case. Our Friday Lady, according to the advertisement from which this image is taken, is inviting us to a show – but, although the motor car is a Hotchkiss, the show is not in France but in England: the Manchester Show that started on 17th February 1911. Her words make it clear: “Manchester Show – are you coming too?”

The car in question is a 16/20 h.p. Landaulette. Hotchkiss, hitherto manufacturers of large cars for the luxury market, moved into the high-quality light car field in 1909 with the 2.2-litre 12/16 h.p.; the following year the company was offering a five-car range in the United Kingdom – the four-cylinder cars were the 12/16, priced at £340 in chassis form, the 16/20 (£440) and the 20/30 (£565). And there were two sixes, the 20/30 (£600) and the massive 40/50 (£890). Hotchkiss cars were always made to the highest quality standards. Indeed, from the start of motor car production in 1903 their engines, including the crankshaft, wherever possible used ball bearings rather than plain. The ball bearing engines lasted until the 30CV type X of 1910.

Hotchkiss had elegant showrooms in both Paris and London – their London offices and showroom at Davies Street in the West End relishing in the highly up-market name of “London & Parisian Motor Company.”

The appearance of Hotchkiss at the 1911 Manchester Show, represented by their local agents Messrs. H. H. Timberlake of Wigan, is not surprising given the importance of Manchester as a centre of industrial prosperity and growth. But there is another, although perhaps tenuous connection: the Englishman Henry Ainsworth was born near Manchester and studied engineering at Manchester School of Technology. He went to work in the Hotchkiss drawing office in St Denis in 1904 and rose to the position of chief engineer – holding that position from 1910 to 1914. After a short period as an intelligence officer in the British Army in 1914, he set up a machine-gun factory for Hotchkiss in Coventry. In 1919 he converted the factory to engine manufacture and sold it to Morris in 1923. He then returned to France and was Hotchkiss General Manager until World War 2 and, with a break for further war service, he worked for Hotchkiss until his retirement in 1950.

Whatever may have been the Manchester connection, Hotchkiss was certainly promoting the 16/20 h.p. in our picture as a luxury motor car for the gentry of Manchester – as we can detect from the distinctly flowery text in the advertisement that is worth repeating in full: “Look closely into every detail of this luxurious landaulette. It merits your consideration; for it is replete with that true refinement which only a close study of car comfort and its practical application can give.” Well, Madam, if you put it like that, we’ll come with you!

Words by Peter Moss.

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