Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
it seemed that European designers were agreed on how a car should handle
and how it should respond to the controls. The result was that cars from this era tended to feel very much the same, whether the engine was at the front or the back, and whether it drove the front or the rear wheels. And while conformity in controls had not gone as far as it has in the United States industry, it was easy to switch from one make and model to another without having to take a conversion course, handbook in hand.
It was a time when few cars retained a strong individual character and required that the driver spend some time behind the wheel so that they could get the best out of the car. One such car that broke the mould was the Panhard 24 CT. Made by France's oldest manufacturer, which by 1965
had become part of the Citroen group, the 24 CT was a coupe with lean low lines and a strong Parisian air, although like so many recent cars, it owes something to the Chevrolet Corvair.
Under the Hood
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.
Cooling was by a centrifugal fan sending air through ducts round the cylinders and this was tapped to provide a supply of warm air for the car's interior. The engine was quite highly tuned, producing 60bhp from its 848 cc (51.75 cu in.). It would rush round to 6000 rpm very willingly and had (indicated) speeds of 48mph in second, 73 in third and 92 in top. I would put the genuine maximum at around 88mph. And the fuel consumption is reported to be 33.35 mpg.
Behind the Wheel
The 24 CT left you in no doubt about the fact that the front wheels were pulling it along. It didn't not have quite the violent switches from understeer to oversteer that made cornering on some its contemporaries so exciting, but it did induce a tendency to take several bites at a corner, easing off a little in between. It would take some time to get the knack of holding a steady line, but once it was acquired, corners could be taken very fast indeed.
The instruments, with their cowled dials, were easier to read than on Panhard sedans, and the heater system included ducts which took air through the doors to demist the rear window. The separate front seats had adjustable backrests and an ingenious mechanism which varies the height of the front or rear of the seat cushion. Headroom was rather limited. On the safety front, the 24 CT had red lamps in the rear edges of the doors, which would light up automatically when the doors were opened - a feature still found today on more upmarket Nipponese cars.
Needing only 24 turns from lock to lock for a 32-foot turning circle, the steering enabled corners to be taken with only a slight movement of the oval steering wheel but it was heavier than on some small cars when parking. Transverse leaf springs
at the front and transverse torsion bars at the rear coupled to trailing arms and a V-shaped axle gave a good ride whidh absorbed the bumps of French main roads and there was very little roll on corners.
In summary, the Panhard 24 CT was a car with a curious combination of qualities, and one that was not cheap, but it certainly could put up high averages on main road runs for very little expenditure on fuel.