Chargrilled: 1937 Panhard et Levassor Dynamic

Burnt to a crisp

It may be hard to tell from the charred remains, but this was once an achingly beautiful 1937 Panhard et Levassor Dynamic Parisienne X77. Sounds fancy doesn’t it? Well, it was! Panhard et Levassor was a French manufacturer, so you know that you’re not dealing with something ordinary. The exterior features flowing lines with half covered wheels and triple wiper blades. Inside there’s room to seat three across and the steering wheel is mounted right in the middle. This brings a new meaning to the phrase “double date”! The owner imported the car from France back in 1982 and at that time it was in excellent condition. Unfortunately, it was the victim of a tragic garage fire in 1992 and the seller just hasn’t been able to let it go until now. The car is located in Schenectady, New York and is listed here on eBay with bidding starting at $1,500. Thanks goes to Phil D. for the tip!

1938 Panhard Dynamic

Here is what this car could have once looked like. Impressive, isn’t it? This is the sort of machine you would expect to see at Pebble Beach in August. It’s big, it’s grand, and it’s odd. Unfortunately, I don’t see it returning to the 18th green anytime soon. The fire caused some major damage that would be hard to remedy even on a car with good parts supply. This particular car had some very unique features so it would be nice to see it restored somehow. Some parts do appear to be salvageable, but I’m not really sure what could realistically be done here. Perhaps the guy who bought a similar Panhard from the Baillon Collection should pick it up for parts? That may seem like a funny thought, but Dynamics don’t hit the market everyday, so you never know.

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Comments

  1. Grr

    Sad tale. They don’t come much weirder than this, though, and I like French cars. This looks stranger than any Citroen I’ve ever seen…

  2. JS

    Sad loss. It’s a monocoque w/o separate frame. Will be interesting to see if it meets reserve(?) and if so if it sells to Europe, the US, or….?

    A similar 1937 unrestored X77 needing engine overhaul sold at Retromobile in 2012 for €45,272 = $59,469 (€1 @ $1.3136). Today the euro rate is $1.0832.

    http://www.artcurial.com/fr/asp/fullcatalogue.asp?salelot=2107+++++397+&refno=10378188&image=0

    A 1939 6 lite with external trunk X81 is available from Retrolegends in the Netherlands – Price on Request:

    http://retrolegends.nl/stock/panhard-dynamic-140-limousine-x81-1939/

  3. Ken Nelsonq

    About 5 yrs ago I got a call from some car shop on Long Island – seems they needed to get the foot operated starter switch restored for one of these Dynamics – they couldn’t find a replacement anywhere on the planet. There’s one in a Fla collection owned by a Frenchman, and maybe one in the Jeff Lane museum. Don’t know who ended up with the one I got called about – had just been imported, and the multi-leaf copper flex spring in the starter had melted thru,and they didn’t want to adapt a more modern switch. All it needed was the spring strips reproduced from springy sheet brass, some remaking of insulator shims inside and careful soldering. They were happy when I sent it back, but I never heard anything about the car after that.

  4. Andrew Minney

    Great car but what a shame!
    Let’s hope Clive Cussler doesn’t see this one.

    Andrew

  5. A.J.

    I have always liked these. This is a shame. Would like to see pictures of this model with the 2 passenger front with access to the back. The description makes it seem like a 2 door sedan which I have never seen in a Dynamic. The coupes are very very very rare as there are maybe 3 or 4 known.

  6. julian

    two of these came to the French Fougeres rally in 2013
    I think that they are two-stroke.
    Both ran well.

    • JS

      The engines are 4 cycle sleeve valve units developed and manufactured under Knight Sleeve Valve license.

  7. Phil

    Hi,
    I’m the owner.
    Thanks for the comments.
    I’d be glad to answer any questions.
    I also had a 1964 Panhard 24CT that perished in the blaze…nothing salvageable from that one.
    This is a 4 door X77, 140.
    Just like the two tone green one on my eBay photos but that one is a 1939 (steering wheel on the left).
    The two seat front arrangement was perhaps to prevent the driver from having to scoot across the seat in order to get to the steering wheel. There was an outside armrest that would swing up.

  8. JS

    A couple of items about the Panhard Dynamic:
    a. They were equipped with dual brake master cylinders with separate brake circuits.
    b. Torsion bar suspension front and rear.
    c. The center steering was replaced by left hand location on the later cars.

    History – Panhard et Levassor began series production of autos (6) in 1891. The first to do so. They are credited with the first steering wheel (1894) and the modern sliding gear transmission (1895). They finished first and second in the prestigious Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race of 1895 (about 725 miles in total).

    For comparison Ford began production – the 2 cyl Model A – in 1903. Cadillac started production in 1903 with their 1 cyl machine.

    Before the Dynamic Panhard introduced the luxurious 8 cylinder Panoramique in 1934 with the surprising A pillar curved windows. Beautiful not odd. Check out the photos of the big beautiful coupé complemented by the elegantly dressed woman, child, children’s Panhard roadster and collies.

    http://doyennes.pl.free.fr/club_photo2.html

    Superb pdf file (photos, schematic drawings, text & specs) – the engines – auto, boat and aviation – Panhard & Levassor 1886 – 1914. Yes only to 1914, but with displacements up to 43 liter V12s. Absolutely worth reviewing for the photos, schematics and specs:

    http://www.hydroretro.net/etudegh/moteurs_aviation_panhard_levassor.pdf

  9. Phil

    The sleeve-valve engine uses 2 concentric sleeves with windows or slots in the intake and exhaust sides. The Cast iron block has intake and exhaust passages on opposite sides, then comes the two steel sleeves (reportedly Babbitted) with a piston in the center. On the top of the piston is a cylinder head essentially a stationary piston with piston rings to seal the inner sleeve and a centrally located spark plug. There are 6 cylinder heads on this engine. The heads are enclosed by a cover which acts as a water jacket. Due to the difficulty of sealing between the sleeves and the engine block there is a constant oil consumption and a typical blue haze following the car! It’s the nature of the beast. The sump is huge containing markings on the dipstick of 2/4/6/8 representing how many liters of oil are available.

    Another feature of this car was the fuel delivery…the fuel would be pulled from the tank via a fuel…vacuum pump which would pull the fuel into a reservoir that would gravity feed the carburetors. The reservoir would incorporate a shutoff valve which was supposed to be used to avoid washing off the cylinders on long downhill drives and when shutoff to avoid leaking carburetor needle valves…like on motorcycles.

    On the Dynamic the lower half of the engine block is also a component of the suspension, a pioneer of the modern motorcycles with the engine being a frame member? The upper control arms are bolted to integral engine block extensions. The Monocoque/unibody is dropped onto the suspension via spherical rubber mounts with through bolts.

    The oiling of the engine is a variation/transition of the splash system with a screw (Archimedes) pump that would raise oil to a gravity distribution system…just like the irrigation pumps of antiquity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pojlbrrKEFo

    The differential uses a screw design mounted at the bottom of the rear axle. This permits the floor to be completely flat…no hump.

    • Phil

      I forgot to mention that the sleeves are operated by a gear driven auxiliary crankshaft that turns at half the engine speed (like a poppet valve engine). The sleeves are connected to this crankshaft with tiny connecting rods. The sleeves move vertically, no rotation. The sleeves are timed to open either the intake or exhaust ports at the correct time. It’s a four stroke engine.

      • JS

        Thanks for the straightforward easy to understand description of your Panhard’s sleeve valve engine design and operation.

  10. waynard

    Actually Andrew let’s hope Cussler does see this. One of a handful that have the wherewithal to put it back together. He has a fine museum and excellent shop and staff.

  11. Ken Nelson

    Phil, sorry to hear of your losses – I recently put a ’66 24BT Panhard back on the road, after it sat in a Cleveland garage for 10 yrs. There just aren’t a lot of the 24s in the country. I still wonder where the Dynamique went that came into that shop in Long Island NY a few yrs ago – were you ever in touch with other owners? Wonder when Leno is going to get one – he’s already got two Citroens and two Panhards – quite a range he’s got. Now if he could just add Bucky Fuller’s last Dymaxion to his collection….but then very few folks would ever see it, so scratch that idea….

    • Phil

      Hi Ken,
      Thanks, In case you need a 24BT engine/trans and a few other parts. You can contact me. I have a spare engine that was in my basement all along. I’d like to hear more about your involvement with French automotive oddities!

  12. gilles

    Hi !
    I’m the webmaster of the french website ” Les Doyennes de Panhard & Levassor” and I just wanted to rectify the adress as the one mentioned above is wrong.
    We’ve now a new website only speaking about pre-war PL models.

    http://doyennes-panhard-levassor.fr/

    Sorry for this accident and the lost of those car…
    I’m restorating a “Panoramic” and this fire make me to be aware of the risk…As it could happened to anybody in a garage…

  13. Phil

    Merci Gilles, The car was sold and will return to Europe shortly, hopefully to be an organ donor and extend the life of one of the precious pre-war PLs!

    Nice photo of the sleeves!

  14. Gilles

    Hi !
    So, the car will cross again the océan to help a sister…
    Acording to the pictures, many parts are salvageable, like the engine and the dynastar ( dynastar combine a starter and a dynamo in the same machine, I dont know the name in English, it could be “dynastarter”… )
    Repair a dynastar is very expensive and mostly it’s beter to find a new one in working order…
    But I guess Inside this one the electric wires burned.
    Anyway I mentioned the link in our website for ours members as we’ve many owners of Dynamic
    Here a picture of my restoration showing the “small” crankshaft who command the sleeves.

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