Panhard Car Reviews and Road Tests

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Panhard Car Company


Founded by René Panhard and his partner Emile Levassor, these visionary men were responsible for the formula of design that is still used to this day; that formula is front mounted engine, front wheel steering, rear-wheel drive. The pair went into business to build engines for Gottlieb Daimler in 1886, but the temptation to build their own cars proved too great, and in 1891 they had built and sold their first iteration. Although their cars were chain driven, by 1896 their configuration, aptly named the "Systéme Panhard" was being copied by nearly all other manufacturers. Levassor, who had been severely injured in the Paris-Marseilles race the previous year, finally succumb to his injuries, and so René Panhard’s son Hippolyte joined the board, and togther father and son would oversee an increase in production to some 336 cars by 1898, and then more than 1000 by 1902 – these were huge figures for the time. In 1905 the company diversified into aero engine manufacture, however the visionary René would pass away in 1908.

Despite a decrease in sales, Hippolyte Panhard was able to keep the company in the black, and by the time war was thrust upon the world Panhard had manufactured 2100 cars. During the war Panhard manufactured a four-wheel-drive military vehicle, that also featured four-wheel-steering. After the war the company embarked on a rapid expansion program, including the bolstering of its range to include many different body and engine combinations, along with half-trucks, military vehicles, trucks and buses. With so many divisions operating within the same company, it seemed inevitable that one would be the loser, and it was the automobile division that suffered the most. There were a few highlights though, such as the sleeve-valve diesel engine offered in the 1930’s, as well as the fabulous 1937 Dynamique, which featured a syncromesh gearbox, hydraulic brakes, independent torsion bar suspension and faired-in wheels and headlamps, plus (until 1939) the unusual feature of a centrally-mounted steering wheel.

After World War 2 Panhard continued the manufacture of armored cars, then in 1946 came the Dynamique’s replacement, the wonderful and innovative Dyna-Panhard, a front wheel drive saloon using a light alloy body and flat-twin engine. Suited perfectly to the economic conditions facing Europe as it recovered from the ravages of war, the Dyna-Panhard was an immediate sales success, some 14,000 were manufactured in 1948 alone. In 1954 Panhard even offered a supercharged sports version, but competitor Citroen could see that Panhard were ripe for the picking. In 1955 they took a 25% stake in the company, and to make the Dyna more competitive they ditched the alloy body in favour of an all-steel one. In 1965 Citroen assumed complete control, the last Panhard leaving the Ivry Paris factory in 1967.

Also see: The History of Panhard
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Panhard Dyna X

Panhard Dyna X

1948 - 1954
For Australians, the Panhard Dyna X was interesting 2 cylinder model. The sole representative in Melbourne of the Dyna Panhard made an interesting study for its ingenuity. Obviously of French origin, it was that it was built to a design influenced by France's era of severe austerity when motoring was a very expensive business in which everyone still wanted to be able to indulge. More>>
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Panhard Pl 17

Panhard PL 17

1959 - 1965
Victory by Panhard in the Performance Index and in the Fuel Economy classification at the 1959 Le Mans could not have been better timed for Panhard, who introduced a successor to the Dyna sedan a few days later. The PL 17 was a replacement for the Dyna, which was introduced in 1954. Advanced for the time, the Dyna had initially featured aluminium panels but later switched to steel – and unfortunately the PL 17 stuck to the steel formula. More>>
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Panhard 24CT

Panhard 24CT

1964 - 1967
The 24CT had four headlamps recessed behind streamlined fairings and the roof was supported on slim pillars giving good all-round vision. There were exceptionally comfortable seats for two adults, plus two seats for children and a lot of luggage space. But underneath the then modern exterior was a mechanical set-up that had not changed fundamentally from that of the little Dyna Panhard sedans. It had a flat twin air-cooled engine hung out in front and driving the front wheels. More>>
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