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Panhard Levassor 6 DS RL- 1933


René Panhard and Emilé Levassor built their first car in 1890, a mid-engined, back-to-back horseless carriage. The following year, they built what many consider to be the first modern car, in terms of architecture: front mounted engine, clutch mounted between the engine and gearbox, and a driven rear axle. Almost all automobiles would follow this layout for the next 80 years, until front-wheel drive cars became more popular and cheaper to build.

In 1891, Panhard & Levassor built a batch of four identical cars, followed by series after series of increasing numbers, which, chronologically, makes Panhard-Levassor the world’s first make of car in continuous production. Although Benz and Daimler had built automobiles earlier, they were isolated examples and not part of any sustained program.

Early in 1909, Rene de Knyff met with Hippolyte Panhard to tell him of his experience of driving the new Daimler with the knight sleeve-valve engine. He was enchanted with the silence and smoothness and urged the chairman to obtain a license and start mounting sleeve-valve engines in Panhard-Levassor cars. The head of the experimental department was impressed and supported the idea, and the first sleeve-valve engine design (a 20cv 4398cc, 4 cylinder model) went into production in 1910. 

This 6 DS RL [Type X71] was purchased by a Monsieur Lagouche of Arpajon, France (approximately 35km south of Paris), on July 12, 1933. The price was 55,000 Francs (about $2700 in 1933), and Lagouche placed a down payment of 30,000 Francs in order to take delivery of the car. This is a faux-cabriolet (coupe) in “DERKA” trim, and originally came with a 4.1 liter, inline six cylinder sleeve-valve engine. Perhaps Monsieur Lagouche required more power than the standard car offered, because he sent the car back to the factory in December 1934 and had the engine replaced with the larger 4.8 liter, inline six engine (now with taxable 27hp) from the X74.



Manufacturer: Panhard et Levassor
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Front engine, rear wheel drive
Engine: 6 cylinder, 4783cc, sleeve-valve
Transmission: 4 speed manual
Top Speed: 80 miles per hour
Years of Production: 1933-37
Number Produced: 131 (only 11 in DERKA trim)
Original Cost: 55,000 Francs ($2700 USD in 1933)