Panhard 24CT

Panhard 24CT 1960s French classic car

Panhard's last hurrah was the '24' Series - which hit the showrooms in '63. Founded back in 1889, the French firm was now floundering - pitched against more conventional products from Peugeot, Citroën and Renault. Sadly, even the iconic 24CT could not save Panhard. The car fought against the financial odds, though, with all the Gallic gusto it could muster. Its aerodynamic bodywork saw it flying into the French marketing fray. The car's large windows - supported by finely-wrought pillars - provided excellent visibility. And the CT's cowled-in headlights pierced through darkness, with aplomb. The automotive giant that was Citroën, though, would gobble up little Panhard, in the end.

The 24CT's flat-twin engine made but 60bhp. Capacity was just 845cc. That was still enough, however, to give a top speed of 100mph. No doubt, the CT's svelte shape helped, too. That was aligned with the highest-spec 'Tigre' engine option - complete with its twin-choke carb. The standard lump provided 10bhp less. At lowish revs, the 24CT failed to impress. Torque was reduced - and the flat-twin motor ran rough. As revs picked up, though, things 24CT settled down nicely. Transmission was via a 4-speed floor-shift. Retardation-wise - from '65 onwards - disc brakes were fitted all round. Handling was fine - and all the better for front-wheel drive.

The 24CT's roots were in the Panhard Dyna. That car had been designed by Grégoire - in the 1940s. Panhard's PL17, too, brought good looks and innovation to the automotive table. The 24 Series itself sold well enough ... 23,245 cars being built. Citroën took Panhard over in '65 - and did its best to make the 24 Series a success. But, a car as elegant as the 24CT is never cheap to make. That, ultimately, proved to be its Achilles' heel. In '67, Citroën accepted that Panhard's Paris factory could be put to more profitable use building its own brand's cars. One of motoring's great pioneers had reached the end of the road. The Panhard 24CT, though, was a more than fitting finale.

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