Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Estate Sale Find: 1959 Panhard Dyna Z

French automobile manufacturers have had a reputation for producing more than their share of quirky and interesting vehicles, and we’ve seen quite a few of them here at Barn Finds. Some of these are iconic, like the 2CV. However, some of them are slightly more obscure. That is the case with this 1959 Panhard Dyna Z. It has undergone a partial restoration but has been sitting in this shed for many years. It is being sold to settle an estate, and it represents a chance for someone to secure an interesting project car. Located in Visalia, California, you will find the Dyna listed for sale here on Facebook. Hand the owner $8,000, and you can take this classic home.

It would seem that the deceased owner of this Panhard liked his quirky cars. I can spot a Subaru 360 and a Honda N600 in the background. The car also rubs shoulders with a Corvair and a few Citroens. All of these vehicles are for sale, so if the Panhard doesn’t take your fancy, you have plenty of alternatives to consider. The Panhard has undergone at least a partial restoration at some point, so it would be interesting to see how well the exterior would respond to some basic cleaning and polishing. There are a few marks and scratches in the paint, but it generally looks relatively consistent. I can’t see any evidence of rust, and the panels are straight. The story with the trim is similar to that of the paint. I can spot a couple of minor dings, but I suspect that some elbow grease and polish would pay dividends in this area. The glass is all present, and it looks to be in good order.

It isn’t clear how long it is since the Panhard was treated to its restoration work, but I believe it has been many years. The interior presents exceptionally well, with no signs of any rips or issues with the upholstery. These are not a big car, but they represent a triumph in packaging. Thanks to the drivetrain layout, they possess flat floors and a large cabin area. That means that the Dyna is capable of seating six people. Speaking of the drivetrain, its condition is entirely unknown. What we should have under the hood is an 851cc horizontally-opposed air-cooled twin-cylinder engine. This little screamer is capable of pumping out 42hp, and this finds its way to the front wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. Acceleration is all that you might expect in this case, with the journey down the ¼ mile taking 24.3 seconds. However, the Dyna Z has a few attributes that are worth considering. The first of these is its weight. It tips the scales at a paltry 1,797lbs. More impressive is its aerodynamic efficiency. A 2CV has a drag coefficient of 0.51, and a VW Beetle scores 0.48. The Dyna Z slams them with a drag coefficient of 0.26. That is why that tiny engine could push the vehicle to a top speed of 80mph and explain why fuel consumption can easily exceed 40mpg. The Dyna Z is not a car that drinks heartily but is one that sips daintily.

The physical appearance of the 1959 Panhard Dyna Z is almost cartoonish, but its appearance is deceptive. This car can effectively seat a family of six but possesses aerodynamic qualities that could be classed as streets ahead of what was commonly available in the market at that time. It might not be as instantly desirable as a muscle car or a pony car, there is no doubt that it would attract plenty of interest at the next Cars & Coffee. If you feel that you march to the beat of a different drama and don’t want to blend into the background, maybe you should give this classic a closer look.


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Sad to hear this chap has passed on. It looks like he had a nice collection of interesting and wide-ranging cars. It’s nice to see he took good care of his cars instead of leaving them to rot out in the back yard. Well done, sir.

    Like 13
    • Little_Cars

      Someone call Jeff Lane of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. This is screaming his name (as is the rest of this fella’s collection, RIP)

      Like 3
  2. alphasud Member

    I like the Panhard. Very creative thinking. Cars like this and Citroen and Renault were real innovators who’s designs found their way into other makes of cars. Not many makers were looking into aerodynamics at the time. Have you heard of the panhard rod? That suspension component is still being used today. I had written in comment a while back that my friend and I came across these in a eccentric junk yard. Unfortunately those were too far gone. If I had the finances I would have one of these in the collection. Thanks for the write up.

    Like 9
  3. Jim

    I’ve seen many pictures of Panhards over the years, but never one in person. Were these sold in the U.S. when they were new or are all the existing ones cars imported later on?

    Also, what exactly is the last picture (on Facebook Marketplace) of? I can’t tell what it is showing.

    Like 0
    • Geoff

      The last picture is the gauge cluster. It is integrated into the steering column on these. It is hard to tell because the gauge markings are soo dark or faded.

      Like 2
      • Jim

        Thanks Geoff. When I look much closer, I can see the numbers on the gauges.

        Like 0
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Jim, I believe the 2 cars in the last photo are a Model A Ford and a 1941 Chevrolet.

      And Yes, Panhards were sold in the USA, often as a part of a Citroen-Panhard dealership. What I find interesting is the large number of Panhards that were sold in the mid-west USA compared to the number of cars sold on the coasts. One possibility was the generous offers Panhard made to guys willing to take on a dealership.

      I bought a Panhard from the original owner who had a gas station in rural southern Indiana, he told me if he bought at least 2 cars, Panhard would provide all the dealership signs, literature, plus a small parts inventory on consignment! So he bought the 2 cars, drove one and sold the other, and sold a few other Panhards over the years, until they stopped selling them in the USA.

      I had a similar Dyna, the car uses an incredible amount of aluminum in it’s construction, even in major body structural panels. Simplicity was always a consideration in creating postwar Panhards, and that concept also lends itself to keeping the cars lightweight. There are few other production cars that can offer a 6 passenger ride at 80MPH, using a motor with under 900cc.

      I have a friend with a late 1960s Panhard PL17, and for a small car it is surprisingly easy to get in and out of, very comfortable seating for long trips, and of course it sips fuel.

      Like 5
  4. chipsbee

    I fetched a roll-over project from Salt Lake City of the same model some years back, thinking I could manage the power-train into a 2CV for some ‘real power’ ! I did get it to run and shift through all gears. Very interesting and innovative ideas throughout the mechanicals, torsion-bar valve return ! I was so disappointed not finding a Panhard Bar incorporated into this sedan.

    Like 2
  5. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    One important thing to consider in the purchase of this car; as the ad points out the cars have been in storage for over 10 years, check to see if the car is equipped with the electric clutch or not.

    If left to sit for long periods, if moisture gets into the electric clutch, it can cause trouble, as the clutch operates by energizing iron particles to magnetically bind between the driving and driven clutch plates. Sometimes the iron particles can become a lump in one spot, then the clutch has to be pulled apart & the iron particles replaced.

    Like 5
  6. Geoff

    Panhard has been around since the very dawn of the automobile. They started making cars in late 1880’s and were the oldest “continuous” car maker in the world until Citroen bought them and turned them into a defense contractor.

    Like 2
  7. Martin Horrocks

    Some good comments above, This is a model and a marque for the engineering connoisseur.

    Unfortunately, Dynas don´t make the money they should and the asking price on this depends on finding someone who both wants one and believes that this is a unique opportunity.

    Like 0
  8. Spridget


    Same car collection as the Yugo featured here the other day, note the Honda N600s and the Chevy sedan in the background of both. This guy certainly had quite a collection!

    Like 1
    • Jim C

      I really have to respect this guy. He collected all the quirky cars he could find evidently.

      Just like the “Island of Misfit Toys”!!

      Like 1
  9. Beyfon

    I’ve never had the pleasure of owning a Panhard but at least I still have a Panhard badge. My wife’s grandfather had owned two back in the 50’s and after he passed away I found a collection of mixed parts in a shed.
    My father in law says that the gearboxes were the weak link. They are tiny and will easily overheat. He used to wrap a towel around the gearbox and modified the window washer to spray water on that towel. That was the best way he found to cool that gearbox.

    Like 1
  10. Phlathead Phil

    Kato, the phewn is rrrengeng!
    -Pink Phanther.

    Like 0
  11. Burger

    An uglier car was never built. Put wheels and headlight on a turd, and you have this car. It is no small wonder they garner zero interest in the car scene, oriented toward sleek and good looking.

    We had several fruitloop car guys around my area when I was a kid, who collected these sort of misfit cars. If it was ugly and weird, they loved ’em. I was one from “the other camp”, who wanted good looks first, engineering second. But I did have a strong curiosity for these guys and their weird cars, and enjoyed visiting, just to look at them and hear the owners excitedly explain all the “great things” about this car or that. I did my best to cover the fact that I thought they were nuts. I still think they are nuts, but carry on this odd respect for those who don’t follow the herd, and are so enthusiastic about something no one else likes.

    Like 0
    • Donek

      Zero interest?! ROFL

      Like 0
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        To paraphrase a well known line in a famous movie: “Pay no attention to the Burger behind the curtain”.

        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how wrong it may be!

        Like 1
  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Burger, and all my friends here on BF,

    I’ve owned hundreds of vintage and antique cars & trucks from a 1914 Buick to a 1973 Dodge cargo van that I bought new for my Packard parts business. From Amphicar to Tatra, I’ve owned many unusual and wacky cars.

    After a stint in the Army with a duty assignment in Germany, where I was introduced to European cars, on my return I started & ran a vintage car restoration shop for 3 decades, specializing in both American & foreign cars, especially Packard & Rolls-Royce. I travelled all over North America, and in the 1980s I began going back to Europe and the UK. in 1987 I even traveled to the middle east for old car customers.

    I mention this because I made friends all over the world. Where ever I went in Europe & the UK, my European friends with [what Americans often consider are oddball & wacky cars], made sure I had a place to stay, often in their own homes, and I was invited to many old car club events there as well.

    I’ve been to 36 countries so far, all as a result of my old car interests. I’ve partied with a wide range of people, from the lowly construction worker, to Kings & Princes [really], all because of my interest in ALL TYPES of cars & trucks. My girlfriend, who is half my age, has been complaining about not being able to go to car shows this year. She was disappointed to hear the big Hershey, PA show was cancelled for the first time since it began in 1953. We are both hoping the Covid19 restrictions are gone by next August & September so we can go to England for the Beaulieu Auto Jumble [great flea market & car show] and the Great Dorset Steam Show.

    Like 2
    • Burger

      I think you caught the flavor of my post, Bill. Personally, I wouldn’t have this car in my driveway, … but is it funky and interesting ? Yes. I find the people who find a car like this to be the cat’s pajamas to be even more interesting, as opposed to the boring drones that chase the same Novas and Chevelles like they are rare or even interesting. Now, where’s that 1918 Packard limosine or 23 Yellowcab ? 🎉

      Like 0
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        Well put.

        The public that comes out to visit a car show, the general population who will never own a vintage car or truck, will also never have the opportunity to become friends with such a disparate population, as defined by unusual and wacky car ownership.

        As I’ve spent a lot if time in the UK, I have several close friends there. We might not see each other for years at a time, but should one of us visit the other’s country, it’s as if no time had passed, and our friendship was just as fresh as ever.

        For years a wonderful couple in England and I traded house keys so we would always have a place to stay. One time when I was in England to attend the Beaulieu Autojumble and the Dorset Steam show, my English friends were getting ready to head off to the USA for the big Albuquerque, New Mexico hot air balloon races. So while staying in their home, I took them to Heathrow airport, for their flight to the USA.

        I can’t imagine another world-wide common interest hobby that offers the possibility of such friendships.

        Like 1
  13. chrlsful

    this co, Borgward & Skoda/Tatra did some very innovative things only accepted 50, 60 yrs later.

    Our “2nd car” or family car (dad hada company assigned 1) for awhile was a Dauphine. Musta been a 5 yr later copy from the looks of them…

    Like 0
  14. Christopher A. Junker

    For another twist on Panhards, see the very low production Devin-Panhard. Amazing what could be done with that two cylinder engine. Supercharge it? Yup. Fuel inject it, Yup. Fit it with Norton ohc hemi heads and belt driven cams,
    also Yup. Could you get 85 hp out of 850cc? Yup. Now put that drive package in a fiberglass roadster weighing under 900lbs.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.