Tuesday 27 September 2016

How Panhard was a giant of the early motor industry

Bob Montgomery

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

A display of Panhards will be one of the highlights at the AXA National Classic Car Show.
A display of Panhards will be one of the highlights at the AXA National Classic Car Show.

Panhard et Levassor was established as a car manufacturer in 1887, making it one of the oldest in the world. They were also present at the birth of motor racing when one of their cars was awarded joint first place in the Paris to Rouen Trial of 1894. Indeed, they were to reign supreme in racing events until 1908 when they withdrew from competition.

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As the motor industry developed between 1908 and 1939, Panhard were to the fore with innovative designs, particularly in the area of aerodynamics, then little understood by most manufacturers. Their startling 'Dynamic' of 1937 set new standards with a sleeve-valve six (coming in 2.5 litre, 2.7 litre and 3.8 litre sizes), backbone chassis, hydraulic brakes, worm drive, all-round torsion bar independent suspension, faired in headlights and wheel spats all-round together with a central driving position.

When production resumed after World War II, Panhard changed direction, manufacturing cheaper models. The Dyna series was launched in 1945 using an air-cooled flat-twin engine of 610 cc driving the front wheels. Between then and 1955 when Citroen took an interest in Panhard, their cars gained a reputation for efficiency and performance from small engines.

Panhards were assembled in Lucan for a period. A display of Panhards ranging from a 1902 Panhard et Levassor to some of the Irish assembled cars together with a Panhard Armoured Car once operated by the Irish Army, will be one of the highlights at the AXA National Classic Car Show on the weekend of March 5/6. www.classiccarshow.ie

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