This new book covers the history of the Panhard & Levassor company from the very beginning as Périn, Panhard & Cie., a maker of woodworking machinery in the 1870s. By the mid-1880s Panhard & Levassor were making Daimler internal-combustion engines under licence and from there it was but a short step to making complete “motor-cars”, the first commercially-sold Panhard & Levassor automobile taking to the road in September 1891.
Panhard were at the forefront of technical innovations from the start, entering and winning many challenging city-to-city races from 1895 to 1903 before such competitions were banned. In 1911 Panhard introduced Knight-patent sleeve-valve engines which they persisted with until 1939, even developing Diesel sleeve-valve power units.
During WWI Panhard produced munitions, 4wd Army trucks, aero-engines, and large marine engines for the war effort. By the 1920s the company was making some of the most elegantly engineered luxury cars available, as well as resuming motor sport record-breaking.
In 1936 the first monocoque chassis-less Panhard, the Dynamic, was put into production, but it was short-lived as WWII intervened and Panhard was taken over by the Nazis to make military vehicles.
After 1945 Panhard struggled to survive but designed and built revolutionary all-aluminium economy cars powered by flat-twin air-cooled engines; the Dyna X and the aerodynamic Dyna Z, but costings miscalculations almost bankrupted the company, leading to a majority shareholding by Citroën. The last family Panhard was the PL17, followed by an exceptionally stylish 2+2, the 24BT and CT coupés, all still powered by developments of the same flat-twin engine- they were Panhard’s swan-song as the company was closed down by Citroën in 1967.
ISBN-978-1-4456-7141-3, 235mm x 165mm, 128 pages, 178 b/w images, price £14.99. Published by Amberley Publishing, The Hill, Merrywalks, Stroud GL5 4EP.