Panhard is now a French manufacturer of light tactical and military vehicles. Its current incarnation was formed by the acquisition of Panhard by Auverland in 2005. Panhard had been under Citroën ownership, then PSA (after the 1974 Peugeot Citroën merger), for 40 years. The combined company now uses the Panhard name. Panhard once built civilian cars but ceased production of those in 1968. Many of their military products however end up on the civilian market via third sources and as military/government surplus vehicles. Panhard also built railbuses between the wars.
Panhard was originally called Panhard et Levassor, and was established as a car manufacturing concern by René Panhard, Emile Levassor, and Belgian lawyer Edouard Sarazin in 1887. Benz and Daimler produced pilot models before this time, and Benz was in production by 1888 with his three-wheeler. Parisian bicycle manufacturer Emile Roger obtained a license to produce this car, and ended up producing more than Benz, due to the ready acceptance of automobiles by the French. Daimler began producing cars in small series circa 1890/91.
Inspired by Daimler's Stahlradwagen (Steel Wheel Wagon) prototypes of 1889, Panhard and Levassor decided to move to making automobiles. Their first car, with licence-produced Daimler engines, was offered in 1890. Levassor obtained his licence from a friend who already had one, Sarazin. Upon Sarazin's death in 1887, Sarazin's widow married Levassor, and the deal was cemented. Daimler and Levassor became fast friends, and shared improvements with one another.
These first vehicles set many modern standards, but each was a one-off design. They used a clutch pedal to operate a chain-driven gearbox. The vehicle also featured a front-mounted radiator. An 1895 Panhard is credited with the first modern transmission.
In 1891, the company built their first all-Lavassor design, a "state of the art" model: the Systeme Panhard consisted of four wheels, a front-mounted engine with rear wheel drive, and a crude sliding-gear transmission, sold at 3500 francs. (It would remain the standard until Cadillac introduced synchromesh in 1928.) This was to become the standard layout for automobiles for most of the next century. The same year, Panhard shared their Daimler engine license with bicycle maker Armand Peugeot, who formed his own car company.
In 1895, 1205 cc (74 ci) Panhards finished 1-2 in the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris Rally, one piloted solo by Levassor, for 48¾hr. Arthur Krebs succeeded Levassor as General Manager in 1897, and held the job until 1916. He turned the Panhard-Levassor Company into one of the largest and profitable manufacturer of automobiles before World War I.
Panhards won numerous races from 1895 to 1903. Panhard developed the Panhard rod, which became used in many other types of automobiles as well.
After World War II the company produced light cars such as the Dyna X, Dyna Z, PL 17, 24 CT and 24 BT. The company managed to get around a steel-saving government regulation forbidding new car models by making the bodies and several other components out of aluminum; the Dyna X and Z 1 had aluminum bodies. The later Dyna Z and the PL 17 bodies were steel. The styling was smooth and rounded, which stood out in any post-war parking lot. The 24 CT was a beautiful 2+2 seater; the 24 BT with a longer wheelbase had space for four. The Panhard-based Deutsch Bonnets ("DB Panhard") dominated the "Index of Performance" class at Le Mans and other small-engine racing classes.
In 2004, Panhard lost a competition to another manufacturer of military vehicles, Auverland, for the choice of the future PVP of the French Army. This allowed Auverland to purchase Panhard in 2005, then a subsidiary of PSA Peugeot Citroën. However, the fame of Panhard being greater, it was decided to retain the name; the PVP designed by Auverland would bear a Panhard badge.
|Panhard Dyna X||1945 - 1954|
|Panhard Junior||1951 - 1956|
|Panhard Dyna Z||1953 - 1959|
|Panhard PL 17||1959 - 1965|
|Panhard CD||1962 - 1965|
|Panhard 24||1963 - 1967|
Models with Panhard technology
|Dyna Veritas||1949 - 1954|
|DB HBR 5||1954 - 1961|
|DB Le Mans||1958 - 1964|
|Sera-Panhard||1959 - 1961|
- PVPXL / AVXL - an enlarged AVL
- TC 54
- TC 10
- TC 24
- Peugeot P4
- ERC 90
- VBR - enlarged VBL multipurpose armored vehicle
- VAP - Véhicule d’Action dans la Profondeur (deep penetration vehicle), VBL based special operations vehicle
- VPS - P4 based SAS Patrol vehicle
Vehicles in service
Panhard has supplied more than 18.000 military wheeled vehicles to over 50 countries with a range of combat vehicles weighing less than 10 tonnes, as follows:
- 5,400 armoured wheeled vehicles (AML, ERC-90 SAGAIE, and LYNX, VCR 6x6)
- 2,300 VBL in 16 countries which includes 1600 in service with the French army
- 933 A4 AVL – PVP – selected by the French army
- 9,500 vehicles under 7 tonnes. Most being jeeplike vehicles produced under the Auverland name.
- Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1990), p.16.
- Georgano, p.16.
- Georgano, p.17.
- Georgano, p.49.
- The prize would go to Koechlin's Peugeot, instead, since the Panhard-Levassor had only two seats, while the rules required four. Georgano, p.20.
- The 1916 St Chamond tank
- Panhard 178
- Panhard EBR 8 wheeled heavy armored car
- Arthur Constantin Krebs, Panhard General Manager from 1897 to 1916