1955 Panhard Dyna Z1
From the The Automobile Magazine 'Oily Rag' Reserve Collection; recent engine overhaul; fascinating, fast and great fun
France’s oldest car manufacturer and one of the greatest names in motoring history, Panhard et Levassor was founded in 1887 by Rene Panhard, Emile Levassor and Edouard Sarazin. Well-equipped and beautifully engineered, the cars pioneered many inventions that we now take for granted including the first effective transmission and the famous Panhard rod suspension brace. A range of increasingly majestic and innovative cars were produced until the outbreak of war put a temporary halt to production in 1939.
In the desolate post-war years, a complete rethink was in order and the Panhard became a utility car of considerable ingenuity and performance with the advent of the Dyna series. These were front-wheel drive, air-cooled, 848cc flat-twin engined machines with light alloy bodywork by Facel-Métallon, independent front suspension and four-speed overdrive gearing.
The Dyna Z was launched in 1953 and was a masterpiece of lightweight engineering. Made almost entirely of aluminium, the complete shell of the car including floors, doors, bonnet, boot and bumpers weighed only 220lbs, an extraordinarily low figure then and now. In fact the whole car weighed only 1,430lbs which was 928lbs less than a Citroen 11CV Traction, equivalent to saving the weight of five 12-stone passengers.
With seating for six and a cavernous boot, the Dyna Z was also slippery as soap thanks to rigorous wind-tunnel testing and the 42bhp motor had no trouble propelling the fully laden car to 50mph in just 10 seconds on its way to a top speed of 80mph with up to 47mpg economy – quite remarkable for its day. By the time it was replaced by the Panhard PL17 in 1959, more than 140,000 had been sold.
As a dating letter from the Panhard et Lavassor Club GB confirms, this Dyna Z1 was first registered in France in April 1955 and is an original aluminium-bodied example (those from chassis no 25581 onwards being steel-bodied). A disc discreetly fixed under the dashboard bears the name Lucien Lamiral of Poissy although whether this was the supplying dealer, the first owner or a subsequent owner, who knows? A good sheaf of French invoices attest to regular upkeep between 1993 and 2013, the registration number at the time being BN 848 AJ.
It was driven from its previous home in Bordeaux to the UK to join the Oily Rag Collection in January 2015 and registered here as 220 UYK. After this it was in regular, sometimes daily, use and covered huge distances travelling all over the country for events. The car has just been the subject of an engine rebuild and has not been used since.
Notes from the rebuilder state that: "The engine was assembled largely from lightly used parts with a view to making it reliable and usable ‘straight out of the box’. The seals, gaskets, rings etc are all new. It shouldn’t require extensive running-in but I’d recommend changing the oil after the first 100 or so miles. Don’t worry about the initial smokiness: this should subside as the assembly lubricant burns off and the piston rings become acquainted with the cylinders.
"The distributor has been overhauled; the starter motor and dynamo have been checked and are in excellent order. The Zenith 32 NDIX carburetter was given a cursory going-over. However, it would benefit from a deep clean and a new accelerator pump seal (available on eBay). The car generally appears to be in fine order. There can’t be many Z1s left in such original and unadulterated condition."
Starting promptly and running well (if rather smokily) as we have moved it around on site, this beautifully preserved and utterly intriguing car will prove a real talking point wherever it goes and would sit well in any collection.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email email@example.com
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