1962 Panhard CD Le Mans coupe

This is a very collectible automobile, albeit for an enthusiast with a specific set of passions, with Le Mans, French, and weird being essential to the mix

From 1950-64, Panhard & Levassor rekindled a sporting tradition dating back to 1895 and Emile Levassor’s victory in Paris-Bordeaux-Paris, the world’s first motor race, and continued in Grand Prix until 1908. During these 15 years, the firm took part either directly, or through its clients, in international competitions by exploiting the qualities of its new, aircooled, twin-cylinder engine designed to equip the new Dyna series from 1946. The engine’s excellent performance caught the eye of makers and performance-tuners of small-engine racing cars, along with amateur drivers. That’s how the Champigny-based firm DB (founded by Charles Deutsch and Rene’ Bonnet) adopted the Panhard engine at the end of 1949.

From 1950-53, Panhard were represented in competition only by clients to whom they sold mechanical components and chassis, which they prepared in line with current regulations. Their clients proved increasingly active, accumulating victories both domestically and internationally.

As a result of the fine results by cars with Panhard engines, the factory became further involved in 1953 by creating an official team under Rene’ Panhard. A Panhard, with Riffard bodywork, won the index of performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, inciting the factory to create a properly structured racing department. In 1954, a DB-Panhard won the 750-cc class at Le Mans, and the Coupe Biennale. Co-operation with DB was stepped up. DB entered four cars for Le Mans in 1955. Following the fatal accident at that year’s race, Panhard renewed its cooperation with Monopole, while simultaneously pursuing its 1954 agreement with DB. The Panhard-Monopole acted as an official team from 1956 to 1958, when Monopole pulled out of racing. Panhard turned to DB, creating the official team known as Panhard-DB from 1959-62.

In January 1962, however, Panhard learned in the press that Charles Deutsch and Rene’ Bonnet had split up, and that Bonnet had gone over to Renault engines. Panhard promptly contacted Charles Deutsch with a view to constructing cars for the next Le Mans, the one event on the calendar that Panhard could not afford to miss. Charles Deutsch had indeed been making plans for a Grand Turismo car with a Panhard engine. Panhard gave the green light at the end of January, and a technical team set to work urgently to produce five prototypes (chassis numbers 101-105) with coachbuilders Chappe & Gessalin involved in manufacturing the laminated plastic bodywork and Panhard supplying the mechanical elements.

Three cars took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1962 (Chassis numbers 103, 104, and 105). Chassis 105 then took part in hill climbs fitted with a 954-cc engine. On September 16, during the Tour de France Automobile, this car—fitted with a specially prepared 702-cc engine and with modifications to the streamlining— touched 129 mph. The car is presented in its 1962 factory configuration, with its 848-cc engine with two inverted double-barrel carburetors. This is a magnificent opportunity to acquire one of the amazingly fast Panhards, which, during a difficult period for French motorsport, ensured the Marseillaise resounded after top international events.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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