The Grégoire is a luxury car produced from 1950 to 1953 by the French automaker Hotchkiss. In 1950s France the Grégoire would have been seen as a large car, though only about 240 were produced.
The Grégoire was a modern-looking four-door saloon. Reportedly as a response to disappointing sales for the saloon, special-bodied coach-built coupe and cabriolet versions also appeared at the 1952 Paris Motor Show, including a streamlined Grégoire-based coupé with an eye-catching 'panoramic' rear window bodied by the Coachbuilder Henri Chapron.
For more than thirty years, each new Hotchkiss had represented a gentle evolution from the previous model. With the Grégoire the company made a radical bid to create a new generation of cars. The car carried the name of its designer, Jean-Albert Grégoire, a man who had made his name in the 1930s as a pioneer motor designer, with virtually unparalleled experience of designing front-wheel-drive cars, and a man who had spent much time during the war working on the application of aluminium to car production. Directly after the war, with European demand for war planes abruptly curtailed, the recently developed aluminium industry found opportunities in the more radical designs coming out of the automotive sector, and the Hotchkiss Grégoire was notable for its lightweight chassis, which incorporated several aluminium elements. The car also featured a new 2180 cc horizontal boxer water-cooled four-cylinder engine capable of delivering a claimed 70 or, from 1952, 75 HP. This combined with the car's lightweight construction and streamlined form to secure an outright victory in the 1949 Monte Carlo Rally with a repeat of the triumph in 1950.
The look of the car was modern in the Anglo-American idiom, and was believed in some quarters to resemble the new Jaguar designs appearing at the same time. The flat-four engine permitted a low bonnet/hood line but was fitted well forward which enforced an extensive front overhang.
The gear box was a four-speed unit with synchromesh on the upper three ratios and overdrive on the fourth.
The Grégoire’s commercial performance was affected by the company’s 30-year record of producing worthy but conservative saloons. High development costs had to be amortised over the number of cars sold, and the low sales level led to a high retail price which, in turn, depressed sales further. By 1952 the Gregoire was retailing for twice the price of the similarly sized six-cylinder Citroën Traction 15CV. An additional challenge came from government taxation policies during the early 1950s in principal European markets, especially France, which heavily penalised larger cars. At the 1952 Paris Motor Show with several French luxury auto-makers clearly in trouble it was noted that the for the Grégoire, despite its upmarket aspirations, the company was only able to distribute a very skimpy brochure, provided without any colour pictures. By 1953 output had slowed and only about 40 were produced, and by the time production ceased towards the end of that year, only 247 Hotchkiss Grégoires had been built; of these 180 had been four-door saloons.