Panhard was one of the world’s oldest names in car manufacturing, dating back to 1872. But by 1955 they had lost their upmarket image and had to be rescued by Citroën, who eventually bought them out completely in 1965. The Dyna, produced after World War II in response to a need for a small, practical, and economical machine, had an aluminum alloy frame, bulkhead, and horizontally opposed, air-cooled, twin-cylinder engine. In 1954, the Dyna became front-wheel drive, with a bulbous but streamlined new body.
The 848cc flat-twin engine was a gem, and in post-1961 Tigre guise pushed out 60 bhp; this gave 90 mph (145 km/h), enough to win a Monte Carlo Rally. Advertised as “the car that makes sense,” the PL17 was light, quick, miserly on fuel, and years ahead of its time.
The PL17 majored on safety and sported a huge, full-width pop-out windshield—rare for 1961. Inside, the lack of a transmission tunnel meant a flat floor and increased legroom.
The unusual interior had bizarre oval-shaped pedals, column gear change, and an unsuccessful pastiche of American styling themes.
Technically advanced, the steering was rack-and-pinion, with only two turns lock-to-lock.
With its aerodynamically shaped body, Panhard claimed the lowest drag coefficient of any production car in 1956. Emphasis was on weight-saving, with independent suspension and an aluminum frame and bulkhead. Despite its quirky Gallic looks, the PL17 was a triumph of outstanding efficiency.
Heads had hemispherical combustion chambers and valve-gearing incorporating torsion bars.
Simple design meant fewer moving parts, more power, and more miles to the gallon.
The engine design dated back to 1940. Cylinders were cast integral with their heads in light alloy, cooling fins and cast-iron liners.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Panhard PL17 Tigre (1961–64)
PRODUCTION 130,000 (all models)
BODY STYLE Four-door, four-seater sports sedan.
CONSTRUCTION Separate chassis with steel and aluminum body.
ENGINE 848cc twin horizontally-opposed air-cooled.
POWER OUTPUT 60 bhp at 5800 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Front-wheel drive four-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Independent front with twin transverse leaf, torsion bar rear.
BRAKES Four-wheel drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 90 mph (145 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 23.1 sec
A.F.C. 38 mpg (13.5 km/l)