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Panhard Dyna Z-1954


In 1891, Panhard built a batch of four identical cars, followed by series after series of increasing numbers. While Benz and Daimler had built cars earlier, they were individual examples. Chronologically, this makes Panhard et Levassor the world’s first marque of car in continuous, series production. Panhard et Levassor was also the first manufacturer to fit a steering wheel to a car, instead of a tiller. Primarily a producer of large luxury cars, Panhard realized after World War II that they needed to concentrate on lower-priced offerings to stay competitive. The Baroque-styled Dyna X series was a big success, but by 1953, it was due for a replacement.
The Dyna Z model debuted in 1954. Panhard had been using wind tunnel testing for years, and utilized the latest methods to develop the car’s slippery shape. Its drag coefficient is an amazing 0.26, compared with 0.51 for Citroën’s 2CV, and 0.48 for the Volkswagen Type 1. Like its predecessor, the Dyna Z seen here was all-aluminum. It only weighed 1,500 pounds, which helped its horizontally opposed, four-stroke 42 hp two-cylinder engine achieve a top speed of 80 mph, all while getting 40 mpg! The front-engine, front-wheel drive setup allowed for a flat floor; it was considered quite roomy for its class.
Rising costs of aluminum forced the company to switch over to steel bodies in 1957, and steel doors, hoods and trunk lids one year later, somewhat affecting the performance and handling of the car. In 1955 Citroën purchased 45% of Panhard et Levassor shares, and Citroën dealers soon added Panhard to their offerings. The price was a bit steep, however; a base model Dyna Z cost 699,000 French francs, as much as a Traction Avant! The cars sold well, but not well enough to turn much of a profit. The Dyna Z was replaced by the slightly larger PL 17 in 1960.

Manufacturer: Sté Anonyme des Anciens Établissements, Panhard & Levassor
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Front-engine, front wheel drive
Engine: 850cc, air-cooled, horizontally-opposed, 2-cylinder
Transmission: 4 speed manual
Top Speed: 80 mph
Years of Production: 1954-1959
Number Produced: 120,000
Original Cost: 699,000 French francs (about $2,000 USD in 1954)