René Panhard, Émile Levassor
Renault Trucks Defense
1963-1967 Panhard 24
Panhard is a French manufacturer of light tactical and military vehicles. Its current incarnation was formed by the acquisition of Panhard by Auverland in 2005. Panhard had been under Citroën ownership, then PSA (after the 1974 Peugeot Citroën merger), for 40 years. The combined company now uses the Panhard name; this was decided based on studies indicating that the Panhard name had better brand recognition worldwide than the Auverland name. Panhard once built civilian cars but ceased production of those in 1968. Many of its military products however end up on the civilian market via third sources and as military/government surplus vehicles. Panhard also built railbuses between the wars.
Panhard was originally called Panhard et Levassor, and was established as a car manufacturing concern by René Panhard and Émile Levassor in 1887.
Panhard et Levassor sold their first automobile in 1890. based on a Daimler engine license. Levassor obtained his licence from Paris lawyer Edouard Sarazin, a friend and representative of Gottlieb Daimler’s interests in France. Following Sarazin’s 1887 death, Daimler commissioned Sarazin’s widow Louise to carry on her late husband’s agency. The Panhard et Levassor license was finalised by Louise, who married Levassor in 1890. Daimler and Levassor became fast friends, and shared improvements with one another.
These first vehicles set many modern standards, but each was a one-off design. They used a clutch pedal to operate a chain-driven gearbox. The vehicle also featured a front-mounted radiator. An 1895 Panhard et Levassor is credited with the first modern transmission. For the 1894 Paris–Rouen Rally, Alfred Vacheron equipped his 4 horsepower (3.0 kW; 4.1 PS) with a steering wheel, 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 with 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. The same year, Panhard et Levassor shared their Daimler engine license with bicycle maker Armand Peugeot, who formed his own car company.
In 1895, 1,205 cc (74 cu in) Panhard et Levassors finished first and second in the Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race, one piloted solo by Levassor, for 48¾hr. Arthur Krebs succeeded Levassor as General Manager in 1897, and held the job until 1916. He turned the Panhard et Levassor Company into one of the largest and most profitable manufacturer of automobiles before World War I.
Panhards won numerous races from 1895 to 1903. Panhard et Levassor developed the Panhard rod, which became used in many other types of automobiles as well.
From 1910 Panhard worked to develop engines without conventional valves, using under license the sleeve valve technology that had been patented by the American Charles Yale Knight. Between 1910 and 1924 the Panhard & Levassor catalogue listed plenty of models with conventional valve engines, but these were offered alongside cars powered by sleeve valve power units. Following various detailed improvements to the sleeve valve technology by Panhard’s own engineering department, from 1924 till 1940 all Panhard cars used sleeve valve engines.
The First World War
Under the presidency of Raymond Poincaré, which ran from 1913 till 1920, Panhard & Levassor’s 18CV and 20CV models were the official presidential cars.
During the war Panhard, like other leading automobile producers, concentrated on war production, including large numbers of military trucks, V12-cylinder aero-engines, gun components, and large 75 and 105 diameter shells.
The military were also keen on the sleeve valve engined Panhard 20HP. General Joffre himself (not, till December 1916, promoted Marshal of France) used two 35HP Panhard Type X35s with massive 4-cylinder 7,360cc engines for his personal transport, and these were frequently to be seen by Parisians carrying military leaders between the front-line and the Élysée Palace.
Between two world wars
Following the outbreak of peace in 1918, Panhard resumed passenger car production in March 1919 with the 10HP Panhard Type X19 which used a 4-cylinder 2,140cc engine. This was followed three months later by three more 4-cylinder models which will have been familiar to any customers whose memories pre-dated the war, but they now incorporated ungraded electrics and a number of other modifications. For the 15th Paris Motor Show, in October 1919, Panhard were displaying four models, all with four cylinder engines, as follows:
Panhard Type X19 2,150 cc / 10 HP
Panhard Type X31 2,275 cc / 12 HP
(This replaced the 12 HP Panhard Type 25 for 1920.)
Panhard Type X28 3,175 cc / 16 HP
Panhard Type X29 4,850 cc / 20 HP
By 1925, all Panhard’s cars were powered by Knight sleeve valve engines that used steel sleeves. The steel sleeves were thinner and lighter than the cast iron ones that had been fitted in Panhard sleeve valve engines since 1910, and this already gave rise to an improved friction coefficient permitting engines to run at higher speeds. To reduce further the risk of engines jamming, the outer sleeves, which are less thermally stressed than the inner sleeves, were coated on their inner sides with an anti-friction material, employing a patented technique with which Panhard engineers had been working since 1923. This was one of several improvements applied by Panhard engineers to the basic Knight sleeve-valve engine concept.
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).
A surprise appeared on the Panhard stand at the 20th Paris Motor Show in October 1926, in the shape of the manufacturer’s first six cylinder model since before the war. The new Panhard 16CV “Six” came with a 3445cc engine and sat on a 3540 mm wheelbase. At the show it was priced, in bare chassis form, at 58,000 francs. Of the nine models displayed for the 1927 model year, seven featured four cylinder engines, ranging in capacity from 1480cc (10CV) to 4845cc (20CV), and in price from 31,000 francs to 75,000 francs (all in bare chassis form). Also on show was an example of the 8-cylinder 6350cc (35CV) “Huit” model which Panhard had offered since 1921 and which at the 1926 show was priced by the manufacturer in bare chassis form at 99,000 francs.
When Panhard presented their 1931 line-up at the Paris Motor Show in October 1930, their last two four cylinder models had been withdrawn, along with the 10CV 6-cylider Type X59. Instead they concentrated on their “S-series” cars, designated “Panhard CS” and “Panhard DS” according to engine size, and introduced a year earlier. Publicity of the time indicated the “S” stood for “Voitures surbaissées” (having an “underslung” chassis,) but, clearly captivated by the power of alliteration, added that “S” also indicated cars that were “…souples, superiéres, stables, spacieuses, silencieuses, sans soupapes (ie using valveless cylinders)…”. Four of the five Panhards exhibited featured increasingly lavish and pricey 6-cylinder engined cars, their engine sizes ranging from 2.35-litres to 3.5-litres. There was also an 8-cylinder 5.1-litre Panhard Type X67 on display, with a generous 3,590 mm (141.3 in) wheelbase and listed, even in bare chassis form, at 85,000 francs.
Panhard et Levassor’s last pre-war car was the unusually styled monocoque Dynamic series, first introduced in 1936.
Panhard et Levassor also produced railbuses, including some for the metre gauge Chemin de Fer du Finistère.
After World War II the company was renamed Panhard (without “Levassor”), and produced light cars such as the Dyna X, Dyna Z, PL 17, 24 CT and 24 BT. The company had long noted the weight advantages of aluminum, and this as well as postwar government steel rationing (designed to limit new car models to ensure an orderly return to production at the major firms), encouraged the firm to proceed with the expensive alternative of making the bodies and several other components out of aluminum; thus the Dyna X and early Dyna Z series 1 had aluminum bodies. Unfortunately, cost calculations by Jean Panhard himself, inheriting son and managing director of the firm, failed to account fully for all of the extra cost of aluminum vs steel, as his calculation were made for the sheet metal panel area actually utilized per body shell, and erroneously did not account for the cut offs and scrap of each of the stampings making up the shell. Once in production, a re-examination cost analysis showed a cost of 55,700fr for aluminum shells and only 15,600fr for steel. The use of aluminum had pushed the firm perilously close to bankruptcy, and a rush engineering job saw the firm return to steel. Thus, the later Dyna Z (from mid September 1955) and the successor PL 17 bodies were steel, and the major stampings retained the heavier gauge intended for durability with aluminum, so as to avoid complete replacement of the stamping dies.
The air-cooled flat-twin engine of the Dyna was also used by Georges Irat for his “Voiture du Bled” (VdB) off-road vehicle, built in Morocco in small numbers in the early 1950s.
The styling of the Dyna Z was distinctively smooth and rounded, with an emphasis on aerodynamics and an overall minimalist design. The 24 CT was a later (fr summer 1963-on) stylish 2+2 seater; the 24 BT being a version of the same with a longer wheelbase and space for four.
For a period after the war, the Panhard-based Monopole racing cars received unofficial support from Panhard (as did DB and other clients such as Robert Chancel), using it to good effect in winning the “Index of Performance” class at Le Mans in 1950, 1951, and 1952. In 1953, Panhard moved on to a more direct involvement with Chancel, which however came to an end after the deadly 1955 Le Mans. In the latter half of the fifties and the early sixties, the Deutsch Bonnet racers (“DB Panhard”) picked up this mantle and went on to dominate the “Index of Performance” as well as other small-engine racing classes.
The last Panhard passenger car was built in 1967. After assembling 2CV panel trucks for Citroen in order to utilize capacity in face of falling sales, and raising operating cash by selling ownership progressively to Citroën (full control as of 1965), in fall of 1967 the civilian branch was absorbed by Citroën, and the marque was retired. Since 1968 Panhard has only made armored vehicles.
In 2004, Panhard lost a competition to another manufacturer of military vehicles, Auverland, for the choice of the future PVP of the French Army. This allowed Auverland to purchase Panhard in 2005, then a subsidiary of PSA Peugeot Citroën. However, the fame of Panhard being greater, it was decided to retain the name; the PVP designed by Auverland would bear a Panhard badge.
Today the only use of the name Panhard is the “Panhard rod” (also called Panhard bar) This is a suspension link invented by Panhard that provides lateral location of the axle. This device has been widely used ever since on other automobiles or as after marked upgrade to rear axles for vintage American cars.
In October 2012, Renault Trucks Defense, division of Swedish Volvo Group since 2001, finalized the acquisition of Panhard for 62.5 million euros.
Panhard Dyna X
Panhard Dyna Z
Panhard PL 17
Models with Panhard technology
DB HBR 5
DB Le Mans
Current military models
PVPXL / AVXL: an enlarged AVL
ERC 90 Sagaie
VBR: enlarged VBL multipurpose armored vehicle
VAP: Véhicule d’Action dans la Profondeur (deep penetration vehicle), VBL based special operations vehicle
VPS: P4 based SAS Patrol vehicle
Vehicles in service
Panhard has supplied more than 18,000 military wheeled vehicles to over 50 countries with a range of combat vehicles weighing less than 10 tonnes, as follows:
5,400 armoured wheeled vehicles (AML, ERC 90 Sagaie, and LYNX VCR 6×6)
2,300 VBL in 16 countries which includes 1600 in service with the French Army
933 A4 AVL—PVP—selected by the French Army
9,500 vehicles under 7 tonnes; most being jeep-like vehicles produced under the Auverland name.
Panhard et Levassor 4 CV with Wagonette body (1896)
Panhard et Levassor Landaulette type AL (1898)
Panhard et Levassor automobile circa 1900
Panhard et Levassor water-cooled 2-cylinder automobile engine, circa 1900
Panhard et Levassor 2,4 litres Phaéton coachwork by Kellner (1901)
Panhard et Levassor 7 CV Voiturette (1902)
Panhard et Levassor Char-à-banc (1903)
Panhard et Levassor 10 CV (1914)
Panhard et Levassor X46 2300cc (1924) Saloon by Salmons and Son, Tickford
Panhard et Levassor Cabrio-Coupé Pourtout
Panhard et Levassor Eclipse (1934) Pourtout
Panhard Dyna X 86 Saloon (1952)
Panhard Dyna 750 Coupé Allemano (1952)
Panhard Dyna Z (1953)
Panhard 24 CT, (1966)
Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance 75
Auto Mitrailleuse Légère HE-60-7
The 1916 St Chamond tank
Arthur Constantin Krebs, Panhard General Manager from 1897 to 1916
1893 R 1943 L-panhard
1912-panhard and levassor ad
1934-panhard x72 ar
1934-panhard x72 av
1934-panhard x72 pdb
1937 panhard-dynamic ar
1937 panhard-dynamic av
1937-panhard dynamic inside
Rue Feuillat – Catalogue photo of Rochet et Schneider factories
|Key people||Edouard Rochet
Like other motorcars of the so-called “brass era“, the cars made by Rochet-Schneider were largely intended for wealthy hobbyists and made use of brass fittings, pattern leather, hand-crafted wood and other expensive components.
Between 1895 and 1901, the company built approximately 240 single cylinder cars “Benz-type” cars. At the 1901 Paris Salon, the company introduced a range of two and four-cylinder cars. Around 1903, these were redesigned along similar lines to Mercedes.
By this time, Rochet-Schneider had become one of the most respected car manufacturers in France. In 1904 the company was sold for 4.5 millionfrancs and a London-based company called “Rochet-Schneider Ltd.” was formed. Production averaged less than 250 cars year and by late 1907 the company was in liquidation.
Théophile Schneider bought the company bearing his name and a subsidiary called “Carburateurs Zenith” was formed. Schneider produced a range of high quality cars and commercial vehicles for several years.
Rochet-Schneider took a stand at the 20th Paris Motor Show in October 1926, and exhibited their five model range. Prices quoted below are the manufacturers’ prices for cars in “bare chassis” form, leaving the customer to make his own arrangements in respect of a car body:
- Rochet-Schneider 12CV 4-cylinder side-valve engine: wheelbase 3,030 mm (119 in) priced at 42,000 francs
- Rochet-Schneider 14CV 4-cylinder side-valve engine: wheelbase 3,200 mm (130 in) priced at 55,000 francs
- Rochet-Schneider 18CV 4-cylinder side-valve engine: wheelbase 3,400 mm (130 in) priced at 50,000 francs
- Rochet-Schneider 20CV 6-cylinder side-valve engine: wheelbase 3,440 mm (135 in) priced at 79,000 francs
- Rochet-Schneider 30CV 6-cylinder side-valve engine: wheelbase 3,570 mm (141 in) priced at 67,000 francs
From the mid-1920s onwards the company placed growing emphasis on commercial vehicles although passenger cars were still being sold and still being exhibited on the manufacturer’s stand at the 25th Paris Motor Show in October 1931, the manufacturer’s last new model being the formidable Rochet-Schneider 26CV with a large 6-cylinder engine of approximately 5-litres displacement along with dual ignition and servo brakes.
W.A. Stevens was established in Maidstone, Kent in 1897 by William Arthur Stevens and had by 1906 built its first petrol-electric vehicle using designs patented by Percival (Percy) Frost-Smith. A petrol engine was connected to an electrical generator and the current produced passed to a traction motor which drove the rear wheels. According to the website of the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Trust the simpler to operate petrol-electric transmission was popular among bus drivers rather than the conventional crash gearbox (in the days before synchromesh) as few bus staff had previously driven motor vehicles.
1908 X2 with the very ornate Tilling 34 seat open top body with Quorn station as the backdrop
Tilling-Stevens factory was situated in St Peter’s St, Maidstone. The factory buildings, built in the 1920s in the Daylight style, survive as of 2012. They were Listed as Grade II in July 2011. It is described as “one few buildings of this style not to have undergone significant alteration from the original”.
The petrol-electric transmission was fitted to chassis built by J.E. Hall and Co, of Dartford, (who used the trade name “Hallford”, so these were known as “Hallford-Stevens”) and Dennis Bros, of Guildford (as “Dennis-Stevens”), until an arrangement was agreed with a large bus operator, Thomas Tilling, who wanted to produce their own vehicles which were named Tilling-Stevens. The ease of driving and soundness of construction of these vehicles soon led to the company supplying chassis to many bus operators in the UK, and several abroad as well.
Tilling-Stevens Motors Ltd consolidated its position with bus operators in World War I because the petrol-electric chassis were not considered suitable by the Army for use in France. However, many men were trained to drive in the War on vehicles with conventional gearboxes which led to a decline in popularity of Tilling-Stevens’ system. By the 1930s, chassis were being produced with conventional petrol/diesel engines, gearboxes and transmission.
Tilling-Stevens split from Thomas Tilling in 1930 and renamed itself T S Motors Ltd (TSM) in 1932, but were again renamed Tilling-Stevens before World War II had broken out.
Tilling-Stevens was still manufacturing buses after World War II, with a large order built in 1947/1948 for export to Hong Kong (China Motor Bus (108) & Kowloon Motor Bus (50)).
Tilling-Stevens also produced goods chassis available with either petrol-electric or conventional gearbox transmissions and built many trucks during World War I. Their cast aluminium radiators were distinctive, with “Tilling-Stevens” cast into the top and either “Petrol-Electric” or “Maidstone” into the bottom tanks.
After the war, they failed to invest in updating their products and acquired Vulcan Trucks of Southport, Lancashire in 1930 to extend their range (and use Vulcan petrol engines). Production stayed at Maidstone.
The unusual electric transmission became less of an advantage as other makers developed their simpler mechanical transmissions to be reliable and easier to drive. Tilling-Stevens specialised in some unusual markets where the transmission could offer a particular advantage, by also using it as a generator. Some early turntable ladder fire engines were produced where arc lamps for lighting and the electric motors to raise the ladder could be powered by it.
In the 1930s the lorries also lost the large cast radiators in favour of first a thinner cast aluminium shell and then a cheaper steel pressed bonnet and a small diamond-shaped “TSM” badge.
Leading up to World War II they specialised in the searchlight trucks for which they are probably still best known today.
1914 Bus Postcard – B.C.T. 1914 Tilling Stevens – Petrol-Electric Bus U130
In 1950, the company was sold to Rootes Group, and complete vehicle production ceased soon afterwards. The plant continued to produce light commercial engines (particularly the iconic Commer TS3 2 stroke diesel) and vehicle bodies, before finally closing in the 1970s, some years after the group had been acquired by Chrysler.
The Tilling-Stevens petrol-electric bus is interesting as an early example of a hybrid vehicle, although without any direct engine propulsion or battery storage. As the petrol engine ran continuously, it was almost certainly less fuel efficient than a competing petrol engine, which may have contributed to its demise. However hybrid petrol-electric cars, such as the Toyota Prius, are now seen as being a partial solution towards cutting carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the risks of damaging global warming.
1919 Tilling Stevens bus in Amberley
- The Transport Museum, Wythall – Midland Red/Birmingham City Transport O 9926
- “Saved in the nick of time!”. Kent Messenger (9 March 2012). p. 12.
- “1924 Tilling-Stevens TS3A petrol-electric lorry”.
- “Tilling-Stevens fire engine in New Zealand.”.
- “Tilling Stevens TS20 searchlight lorry”.