Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1965 Panhard 24CT

If you're reading this blog there's a pretty good chance you've heard of Panhard. Chances are most of your friends haven't. Given that it was one of the first (some argue the first) manufacturers of automobiles, you'd think the name would be more common.

Panhard started building cars in the 1890s. They stopped in 1967. They're still in business today, now making military vehicles.

Until the last couple of decades, the French built, well, French cars. They were like no other cars in the world. French engineering was unique (everything usually made perfect sense on paper, if not always on pavement) and French styling was, to most non-French eyes, just plain weird.

The Panhard 24CT is unmistakeably French, but it's not really weird. It's compelling.
Take a look at the wheels. They have chrome trim rings surrounding exposed chromed cooling fins for the drum brakes. The front turn signals are in with the headlights, giving the front end a sleek look. The B-pillar is a thin, straight piece of chrome, but the C-pillar is oddly shaped and at an extreme angle. The nose looks both Citroen-esque (no surprise there as by the 1960s Citroen owned Panhard) and a bit like an Alpine 110. The body crease and chrome moulding are taken from the Corvair, and the back end, if you squint, looks similar to a BMW 2000cs. Somehow it all works, and this, to my eyes, is one of the nicest looking (mass produced) 1960s French cars.

The 2 cylinder engine is described as this:
"Four-stroke, air cooled, concentric torsion bar valve springs on roller bearings, hollow aluminum push rods with hardened steel tips, roller main bearings and big end rod bearings of "Panhard Patent" design with an additional set of smaller rollers carrying the roller cage (separator); non-removable cylinder heads, removable steel cylinder liners."

Damn.

It worked, as Panhard used this engine for decades. In "Tiger" form (like the car being offered on eBay) it produced 60HP, enough to give the 24CT a top speed of 100 MPH. I'd love to see one of these engines apart.

This is such a great car because of what it is... Different. The Panhard is not quite as wacky as a Citroen and not as stoic as a Peugeot. It's completely unique. It's a great reminder of the days when cars had personalities.

Click here to see the eBay listing for this 1965 Panhard 24CT.

The US Panhard Club is called Les Amis de Panhard & Deutsch-Bonnet USA. You can find their website here.

Veloce Today posted a short article on Panhard and Deutsch-Bonnet back in 2007. Click here to view it.

Click here to see the current line up of Panhard military vehicles.

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