1962 Panhard & Levassor CD: When giants roamed France

1962 panhard et levassor CD le mans1962 panhard cd original catalogue brochure1962 panhard cd original catalogue brochure1962 panhard cd original catalogue brochure

wow, talk about the history and heritage of a marque. you may be wondering about the undeniable resemblance of this car to the celebrated citroen ds, well read on. it’s something i learned today myself. here’s a little history:

“panhard & levassor was an innovative french car manufacturer established by rene panhard and emile levassor in 1887. their first car in 1890 was based on a daimler engine licence. levassor obtained his license from a friend, sarazin, who already had one. upon sarazin’s death in 1887, his widow married levassor, and the deal was sealed. the german daimler and the french levassor became fast friends, and shared improvements with one another. these first vehicles set many modern standards, but each was a one-off design. panhards used a clutch pedal to operate a chain-driven gearbox and featured a front-mounted radiator. an 1895 panhard is credited with the first modern transmission. for the 1894 paris-rouen rally, alfred vacheron equipped his 4 horsepower vehicle with a “steering wheel”, wow, believed to be one of the earliest employments of the principle. in 1891, the company built its first all-levassor design, a “state of the art” model, the “systeme panhard” consisted of four wheels, a front mounted engine and 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. finally it was panhard who shared their daimler engine license with unknown bicycle maker armand peugeot, who formed his own car company, you may have heard of peugeot!

in 1895, panhard et levassors finished first and second in the paris-bordeux race. one piloted solo by levassor himself for over 48 hrs, on quadruple french espressos. panhard went on to became the largest and most profitable manufacturer of automobiles before WWI. there after french panhards continued to win numerous races from 1895 to 1903. in 1925 a 4.8 litre (292ci) model set the world record for the fastest hour run, an average of 185.51 km/h (115.26 mph). the last panhard passenger car was built in 1967. from 1968 on, the civilian branch was absorbed by citroen in 1965, and the marque was retired. you can be sure that the citroen ds was inspired by none other than the panhard cd…” by dd