Tag Archives: Rene

Au Revoir P et L – Panhard 24 bt

In 1887 French Engineers René Panhard and Émile Levassor founded Panhard et Levassor to manufacture motor cars and using a Daimler motor manufactured under license offered their first car in 1890. All of their early cars were one off designs as they introduced a string of improvements on successive models. In 1891 they built a vehicle with a front mounted motor and rear wheel drive that would become ubiquitous in the motor industry for over half a century.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

After a 48 hour 48 min drive Émile Levassor crossed the finish line first in the first mass start motor race, the 1,178 km / 731 mile which in 1895 Paris Bordeaux Paris. Panhard et Levassor was not awarded the win because the race was intended for vehicles with 4 seats and Levassor’s car only had two as did the Panhard et Levassor which came second.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

Recording many race victories Panhard et Levassor became one of the largest automotive manufacturers prior to the Great War of 1914/18. Between the two World Wars Panhard et Levassor diversified into new areas including, like Bugatti, into rail buses.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

After the 2nd World War Panhard focused on making light cars with two horizontally opposed cylinder motors and front wheel drive. Unofficial support for racing car manufacturers like Deutsch et Bonnet led to many success at Le Mans in the Index of Efficiency classifications during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

The Panhard 24 bt like the one seen here at the Malta Classic Car Collection was launched in 1964 featuring and air cooled 848 cc / 51.7 cui two cylinder engine, with origins dating back to the late 1940’s, driving the front wheels which allowed for the exceptionally low bonnet line which results in exceptional aerodynamic efficiency.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

In 1965 Panhard was absorbed by Citroen during a period of rationalisation that was rampant throughout the European motor industry, so as not to compete with Citroen’s de luxe four door, four seater AMI 6 Citroén kept the spec of the 24 bt high and vetoed the development of a four door version.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

Like, among many others, numerous BMW’s, the NSU Prinz, Stingray Corvette and Corvair from Chevrolet the Panhard 24 bt had a distinctive chromed trimmed midrift.

Panhard 24 bt, Malta Classic Car Collection

Saloon / Sedan 24 bt’s and the Coupé 24 ct‘s were amongst the earliest vehicles to feature integrated front and rear bumpers which gives the cars an efficient and stylish appearance which is taken for granted on new models these days but was well ahead of the curve even when production of the 24 bt ceased in 1967 marking the end of Panhard as a passenger vehicle manufacturer.

Thanks for joining me on this “Au Revoir P et L” edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking the 1955 Indianapolis Pace Car on Americana Thursday. Don’t forget to come back now !


French Revolutionary – Matra Bonnet Djet VS

After building over 1000 vehicles including the successful DB Panhard HBR Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet parted company over a disagreement about the supplier of engines for future models.

Matra Bonnet Djet VS, Goodwood Revival

René was keen to switch to Renault motors while Charles wanted to stick with Panhards with which they had found much success.

Matra Bonnet Djet VS, Goodwood Revival

In 1962 Automobiles René Bonnet launched the Djet, with the D allegedly added to help french owners pronounce the name correctly. Fiberglass bodies for the Djet were manufactured by Matra, a company at the time more commonly associated with missile production, which were then glued to a steel chassis.

Matra Bonnet Djet VS, Goodwood Revival

The car is revolutionary because this is was the first sports car to go into mass production with a engine mounted behind the driver and ahead of the rear wheels the so called mid rear position.

Matra Bonnet Djet VS, Goodwood Revival

The VS, yes that is a ‘V’ as in roman numeral and not a ‘Z’, denotes that this car is powered by a 90 hp Gordini spec 1108 cc / 67.6 cui 5 bearing 4 cylinder Renault ‘Cléon’ motor which gave the model a top speed of 118 mph.

Matra Bonnet Djet VS, Goodwood Revival

The model was launched as the René Bonnet Djet in 1962 of which less than 200 were built by 1964 when as a consequence of focusing on racing activities Bonnet got into financial difficulties and was subsequently bought out by Matra.

Matra Bonnet Djet VS, Goodwood Revival

Matra launched improved versions of the Djet in 1965, like the 1966 example seen here and sold them successively under the Matra Bonnet Djet, Matra Sports Djet and Matra Sports Jet up until 1967 when production ceased with over 1,490 further vehicles completed.

Thanks for joining me on the revolutionary mid engined edition of ‘Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


1914 Indy Winner – Delage Y

Continuing this months series of blogs celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 today’s photograph by Ed Arnaudin was taken in 1964 and shows the most famous of the Delage Y’s which, in the hands of Rene Thomas, won the 4th running of the Indy 500 in 1914.

Indy64 6s

Designed by Arthur Michelat four Y models are thought to have been built between 1913 and 1914 at the Delage factory on Boulevard de Verdun in Courbevoie in NW Paris.

This one was fitted with a 113 hp, 4 cylinder 4.5 litre 275 cui motor, featuring 4 valves per cylinder, was connected to a 5 speed gearbox making it one of the most advanced racing cars of it’s time.

In 1913 Paul Bablot drove the pictured vehicle to victory in the, latter of two, French Grand Prix held at Le Mans.

With support from British journalist in Paris WF Bradley, the Indianapolis 500 attracted the first foreign entries in 1913 which in 1914 included two Delage Y’s, the 2nd Delage driven by Albert Guyot placed 3rd in the race.

Rene Thomas prior to winning the Indianapolis 500 at his first attempt is also known for surviving the worlds first mid air collision near Milan in 1910 after his Antoinette monoplane ‘fell’ onto the Farman biplane of Captain Bertram Dickson who was not so lucky.

Thomas went on to record a land speed record of 143 mph in 1924 at Arpajon south of Paris aboard another Delage. Amazingly after a full life of risk taking Rene Thomas died aged 89 in 1975.

The story goes that as this winning car was being loaded on to a ship to return to France it was purchased and ultimately remained in the USA. The car was later ‘found’ by Edgar L. Roy a founding member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America and restored by him prior to the car finding it’s way to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for sending me the scan of his Dad’s photo and to E.B. of The Nostalgia Forum for identifying this vehicle.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s 1914 edition of ‘Getting a lil psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a 1915 White Squadron Stutz. Don’t for get to come back now !


Broken Promises – DB Panhard HBR

Somehow almost overlooked this photo by Ed Arnaudin of John B Mull in his DB Panhard competing in Race 1 at Thompson CT on the 20th July 1958, although John did not finish this race, we shall see this is a significant model in the world of national and international class H up to 750 cc 45.7 cui racing.

The manufacture of DB cars commenced after a promised drive failed to materialise at the 1936 French Sports Car Grand Prix for Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet. The following year they entered a special of their own devising using the remnants of of a Citroen Traction Avant 11 CV.

Their specials placed in the very first post war race in Paris in 1945 and with the construction of the open wheel DB7 Automobiles Deutsch & Bonnet became a business entity in 1947.

Unhappy with the supply of Citroen parts they switched primarily to using flat twin Panhard motors of 744 cc / 45.4 cui. DB Panhards took class victories at the Mille Miglia, four times, Le Mans, three times, Sebring, twice and SCCA class H, the latter in 1958 with Howard Hanna at the wheel and in 1959 with Ray Heppenstall at the wheel.

Despite their on track success after building nearly 1000 vehicles, a disagreement over the architecture of their next model led to Deutsch and Bonnet going their separate ways forming CD and Automobiles René Bonnet respectively, the latter using Renault power became part of Matra Automobiles in 1965.

Panhard which as Panhard et Levassor had been in business since 1897 was absorbed in to Citroen in 1965 with the last vehicle produced in 1967 the name is still to be found in use as a brand of French built military vehicle.

The HBR model seen here was built from 1954 to 1961 on the most common DB chassis shared with Mille Miles and Coach models of which a combined total of 660 were made.

John B Mull appears to have had a collection of vehicles to race with Evelyn Mull between them they are known to have raced a Jaguar XK120, AC Ace Bristol, Austin Healey 100 S and this DB Panhard, JB is also known to have raced an OSCA S750.

Hope you have enjoyed the Race 1 Thompson CT 20th July 1958 series, my thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for the photograph and to Terry O’Neil for the race results. Join me tomorrow for Ferrari Friday when we will be looking at a vehicle driven by a reigning 3 time World Grand Prix Champion on it’s victorious debut and a month later was driven to a class victory by the USA’s first future world champion. Don’t forget to come back now!