Monday September 25, 2017
And despite an appearance more akin to a science fiction film than of a family saloon – the Dyna really does look as though it has strayed off the set of The Quatermass Xperiment– it was an eminently practical machine, from the entire front that opened for ease of servicing to a drive-train that could be conveniently removed for repairs and a sizeable boot.
One curious detail was that the Panhard could be started without a key, there was a battery cut-off switch for extra security, and another was that the brake lights doubled as reversing lamps! But who could argue with ‘6 personnes + 6 litres d’essence = 130 km/h!’, as the original Z advertisements would have it, while an 80-mph top speed was extremely reasonable.
To put the sales claims into context, on the other side of the Channel the similarly sized Ford Zodiac needed a 2.2 litre 6–cylinder engine to achieve a top speed of 82 mph.
By 1957, the Dyna Z had a steel body, largely due to the rising costs of aluminium and insurance issues and two years later the PL17 featured conventional hinged front doors.
There was also the high-performance Tigre version which boasted a twin-choke Zenith carburettor and became the car that was the outright winner of the 1961 Monte Carlo Rally.
Unfortunately, import duties ensured that the Panhard was never destined to be a common sight on British roads as the Tigre’s price tag of £1,267 made it rather more expensive than a Vauxhall Cresta PA.
To the novice Panhard motorist, Tigre motoring could initially prove slightly challenging.
The plastic trimmed benches offered zero side support, some of the dashboard switches were apparently designed to be unreachable and the engine note sounded as though your new Panhard was powered by a press-ganged swarm of irate bees.
But, with the column mounted gear lever in third cruising at 60 mph it is remarkably effortless and as for handling and road holding, the Tigre’s only real limitations are the protests of other occupants as they careered across the seats.
Incidentally, these could be specified in tiger print for that extra touch of style.
Two years after the debut of the original Dyna Z, Citroen commenced a gradual take over for Panhard, which gained them much needed extra production capacity.
The PL17 was sold until 1965 and the last Panhard car, the elegant 24CT Coupe, ceased production in 1967.
Thereafter the firm specialized in commercial vehicles, leaving behind a legacy of innovation.
64 years ago, the Dyna Z was a clear illustration of how space efficiency and FWD could give family car road manners that were the envy for many a sports car and in the words of Autocar, the Panhard appealed to those who appreciated ‘out-of-the-ordinary-transport’. Absolutely.