Rare Aluminum Body: 1954 Panhard Dyna Z1

The Panhard Dyna Z is not a car that we see that often here at Barn Finds, so to have two examples appear on our desks in quick succession is a rare treat. I have to say a huge thank you to Barn Finder Jim C for spotting it for us. I had the privilege of writing about another Dyna Z in this article only a few days ago. This one is an earlier model, and it has a feature that makes it that bit more desirable than the previous car. It is located in Akron, Ohio, and has been listed for sale here on Facebook. The sale price has been set at $6,900.

The Dyna Z was in production between 1954 and 1959, and with a total of 140,000 cars rolling off the production line, it was a sales success. This car has spent most of its life in Arizona, which is good news for potential buyers. The owner claims that it is completely rust-free and that the panels have been stripped in preparation for a refinish. That brings us to a possible decision that the next owner might wish to make. The Dyna featured in the previous article was from the final year of production, while this one was from the first. For the most part, any changes across the life-span of the Dyna Z were quite evolutionary. There was one significant exception to this rule. While the cars built after September of 1955 were fitted with steel body panels, these earlier cars were clad in aluminum. This car originally wore a pale turquoise color, but it has now been stripped back to the bare aluminum. The panels appear to be extremely straight and clean. If there is no Bondo or other filler, the buyer could choose to polish the bare panels to create a striking custom look. It is certainly an option worth considering. However, it would still look pretty good with a fresh coat of paint if a custom look is not their cup of tea. It appears that several trim items are missing, and it isn’t clear whether these have been removed and stored or whether they are gone completely. That is a question worth asking because their relative rarity in the US might make it hard to locate replacement parts. The hubcaps look like they would benefit from a trip to the platers, but the glass appears to be in good condition.

It seems that this Dyna Z1 is a restoration project that has stalled, but the interior has been completed. The seats wear new covers, and the dash and wheel appear to be perfect. There is plenty of dust and leaf litter inside the Panhard, but I suspect that a few days of cleaning will have the interior presenting perfectly once again. There is plenty of evidence of the original color on this interior’s painted surfaces, so if the buyer does choose to polish the exterior, this will provide a striking contrast.

The owner supplies no engine photos, but he does provide what sounds like some pretty good news. He doesn’t say whether it runs, but the engine has been treated to a rebuild. The only mechanical malady that he mentions is the fact that the brakes will need some attention. This car’s drivetrain is identical to the previous Panhard, which means that it features a horizontally-opposed, twin-cylinder, air-cooled 851cc engine that pumps out 42hp. This power finds its way to the front wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. The later cars’ performance was acceptable, but these earlier cars could offer a bit more to the driver. Whereas the steel-bodied examples tipped the scales at 1,797lbs, the aluminum panels on this car mean that it would weigh a featherweight 1,565lbs. This didn’t have any real impact on top speed, which remained at 80mph. It was when you planted the right foot that you felt the difference. The later cars would take 24.3 seconds to cover the ¼ mile. The lower weight brought about by all of that aluminum means that this car should cover the same journey in 23.3 seconds. Okay, that still is nowhere near fast, but you have to admit that it is an improvement.

There is little to separate this 1954 Panhard Dyna Z1 from the car that we featured previously from a project perspective. Both are unfinished projects that will require attention before they could be considered to be roadworthy. However, this one probably is a better proposition for several reasons. We know that it is rust-free, and we are told that the engine has been rebuilt. The owner only mentions braking issues, so it looks like a car that could be returned to active duty fairly easily. The exterior of this car needs refinishing. Still, it is a rarer car due to that aluminum skin. So, if you bought this one, would you treat it to a repaint, or would you polish it as the seller suggests?

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  1. Howard A Member

    What IS the French fascination with fish?

    Like 1
  2. alphasud Member

    I had to rub my eyes this morning when I saw this. How in the heck are there 2 of these in a current BarnFinds feed! It’s a no brainer take the aluminum one since it’s more rare and with it stripped back their are no surprises. I want to be seen as the next oddball to be driving this to a cars and coffee. I need more $ and room!

  3. Elanguy

    More of Myron Vernis’s collection. All great stuff and a fascinating guy to boot. I would love to spend an afternoon with him and his collection.

    Like 3
    • Bill McCoskey

      If this is part of the Vernis collection, I believe the red NSU Spyder Wankel roadster next to the Panhard came thru me, many years ago.

      Like 1
      • Elanguy

        How cool. At first I thought it might be an Alfa Spider, but when I realized the sale was Myron Veris’s I figured that it would have to be something much more rare. So I was pretty sure it was an NSU.

      • Bill McCoskey


        About 25 years ago I sent Mr Vernis 3 cars; The first NSU Wankel roadster imported to the USA[red with black hardtop] and the last NSU Wankel roadster imported to the USA. The 3rd vehicle was a 1958 DKW Munga. A civilian version, it was sold new in America to a hunter who wanted it for hunting deep into Pennsylvania forests. [I’ve always thought it was the first ATV.]

        The NSU cars came out of a place called Allied Light Cars, in Washington DC [near Union Station]. A couple of friends and I bought the remaining stock of cars & spare parts from Allied Light Cars after they closed due to NSU no longer providing cars to North America.

        We were told at the time that Allied was the importer for NSU cars. The 2 roadsters had never been sold, so there were no titles to be had. The former owner of Allied said the one with the hardtop was featured in a well known car magazine in 1964.

        That Munga was a real oddball [and it take a lot for me to call a vehicle “oddball”]. The easiest way to get it to start from cold, was to tow it behind another vehicle until the 3-cylinder 2-stroke motor would stay running. I’m told this was quite common, and for the German Army this was the preferred way to start them from cold. At 40mph it was screaming down the road, and making the slightest steering change at high speed made the car want to tip over. However at very low speed, with it’s constant 4 wheel drive, in the worst possible swamp conditions here in Maryland, no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get it stuck.

        Like 3
  4. Dual Jetfire

    Yeah, you’ll rule the car show in your polished Panhard.

    Like 1
  5. Christopher A. Junker

    The engine may prove to be a real challenge if my memory is correct. It may have a pressed together crankshaft with roller bearings in some versions. However 42 HP is just a start as these twin cylinder engines could and were successfully modified to put out over 80 HP in the Deutche-Bonnet HBR-5 fast back two seater. Even hopped up they were durable engines that powered Le Mans class winners back in the 50’s and early 60’s. The most extreme version was from out on the West Coast where a sports racer was built with the Panhard engine with Norton OHC heads driven by one of the first Gilmer belt installations. Power probably approached 100HP at 8K.

    In the late 60’s I had a chance to buy a non-running HBR-5 for $750 with the manual. I chickened out as the repair manual was in french. The shift pattern was a 4 speed laid on its side with first up and to the right. The started was something called a Dynamotor which served as both a starter and with reversed polarity, a generator. A really neat car but you’d better be fluent in french, I wasn’t. GLWTA

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      Christopher A. Junker,

      Do you remember what color the Deutche-Bonnet HBR fiberglass body was? A collector here in the mid-Atlantic area had a maroon one, he had it consigned to a local old car dealer in Virginia, where I worked until it closed about1978.

    • Roger Buck

      The Panhard had a normal starter and generator. My Berkely had a Ciba Dynastart on the crankshaft, so no gearing. The engine was a 3 cylinder 2-stroke. You pushed the button on the dash and the engine was running. If it was cold, you might hear a little snuffling for a couple of revs before it was running.

  6. Bill McCoskey

    No longer available on Farcebook.

  7. Mitchell Ross

    NSU RO80 in the backround as well

  8. Christopher A. Junker

    Bill, The DBR-5’s original color was french blue. I have a photo of it racing at Watkins Glen in 1960.

    • Bill McCoskey

      Then it’s not the same car!

  9. Ken Nelson Member

    Myron certainly gets around – I still can’t figure out why he imported so many Porsche tractors! Didn’t know he had this all alloy Dyna – must’ve acquired it some yrs after I bought his DB Lemans roadster with removable hardtop, which I still have. Stronger fiberglass body than the HBR5s -its material seems about twice the thickness of the coupes. Also has perimeter chassis vs the backbone of the HB cars. Funny thing – almost 30 yrs ago I put money down on a Dyna sedan in Detroit, but then the city told me I couldn’t put it on my property. So I passed on the car and let the seller keep my $100 down toward a price of $300 then. Turns out Myron heard of the car, bought it, then 25 yrs later gave the car back to me gratis when I visited him about one car or another. Still have that Dyna – probably a Z16.
    Best car Myron ever snagged has to be the Hoffman X8 prototype – one of a kind, and a very interesting car. The X8 engine couldn’t be made to work by Henry when he tried one, but somehow Hoffman made it run successfully – look that one up! A cross between a Tatra and a Scarab. Seems Myron waited about 20 yrs to score that one, and for a good bundle. Interesting guy!

    Too bad about the all alloy one on FB. There are still a few around. I got lucky and was able to obtain the Z1 Reynolds aluminum had in its collection. Seems one of the sons found it in Paris, brought it into their collection. Complete car, one large mousehole in original upholstery, engine runs. Doing a brake job on it now. The bare bodyshell of the Z1s weigh only 220 lbs according to a recent history book of the co. that is available – astonishing!

  10. Ken Nelson Member

    My NSU Prinz III, a vertical twin with OHC driven by 3 eccentric conrods on the crank, instead of chain or gears, also used a Dynastart system. Same on my 1200 autostick 4 cyl with same curious OHC drive system – ingenious = no gear whine, no chain rattle, stretch, or tensioner needed.

    This Z1 has been converted to separate front seats, as all Dynas and PL17s until about ’61 had bench front seats as standard. Anyone know why Myron imported so many Porsche tractors? He had a real focus on those. He must’ve gotten this Dyna some yrs after I bought his DB Lemans roadster with removable hardtop, a different design than the HBR5 coupes. The Lemans has a perimeter chassis, rather than the tubular spine a la Lotus.

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