Rare Rides is partial to the unique motoring opportunities offered by French manufacturers. Among many Citroëns featured here, recently a Talbot-Lago coupe wowed the eyes with its style and price. Today we’ll take a look at another French coupe that’s a bit more affordable.
It’s an unrestored Panhard 24 from 1964.
In 1887, Panhard was established as one of the earliest auto manufacturers by René Panhard and Émile Levassor. The company built its first car in 1890, utilizing a licensed version of Daimler’s engine. Panhard produced a number of vehicles of luxurious intent, and between 1913 and 1920 their upscale 18CV and 20CV models had the distinction of serving as the presidential cars of France.
After World War II, Panhard introduced all-new models boasting modern, minimal designs. Citroën became intertwined with Panhard in 1955, when it purchased a 25 percent share in its competition. At the time, Citroën needed the manufacturing capacity Panhard had available, and Panhard needed more dealers to shift its cars.
While sales of Panhard models increased, Citroën gained ever more control over the brand and soon ended up instructing the brass at Panhard in which cars they developed. Panhard needed to replace its aged PL 17 sedan by the early Sixties, but Citroën’s president had other ideas. He felt that such a new Panhard would encroach on the lucrative family car market in which Citroen already had plenty to offer. He told Panhard they could replace their family sedan with a coupe.
Though Panhard engineers wanted to use a four-cylinder in their new lightweight coupe (1,850 pounds), they were again blocked from any prestige by Citroën. “Use your two-cylinder,” they said. And so it was, that Panhard utilized only an air-cooled two-cylinder boxer of their own design. The engine was available in two different tunes, making either 42 or 50 horsepower. All examples used a four-speed manual transmission.
The resulting coupe would turn out to be the company’s ultimate model. 24 was introduced in 1964, wearing its very sleek styling on a tubular steel chassis. Available only in two-door guise, Panhard offered the 24 in a shorter coupe or a sedan that featured 11 inches of additional overall length. The longer version was decidedly the more practical of the two — it offered 9.8 inches more legroom for rear seat passengers than the coupe. The boxer engine and its size meant designers could lower the hood line further than in other engine configurations.
Panhard focused on providing a nice interior in its affordable coupe. Seats were rake and height adjustable, as was the steering wheel. And in a very important motoring moment, seat belts were optional.
Constrained by its Citroën overlords, all of Panhard’s other models were cancelled by 1965 and the 24 soldiered on alone through 1967. After ’67, Panhard turned its attention to military vehicles, and would continue to do so until it merged with Auverland in 2005, and with Renault Trucks Defense in 2012.
Today’s Rare Ride is in original, unrestored condition in Bordeaux, France. With unstated mileage in rough running condition, it asks $5,400.