Cars from 1920 to 1950 - The golden age of the car
Panhard & Levassor 35 CV
Body style: single-seater
Speed records were much coveted by automobile makers between wars, as they enhanced the reputation and sales of a make. 8 and 10-cylinder engines were often used. When Paul Panhard took over management of Panhard & Levassor, his aim was to restore the sporting image of the make, with new records.
From around 1930 onwards, British gentlemen started to show great interest in these big beasts with engines upwards of 8 litres. The fashion was for short-course races and world record attempts. The old Brooklands circuit became the scene of unforgettable, meets bringing together these roaring “monsters”. Captain Eyston, a British racing enthusiast, was responsible for modifying this 35 CV model, fitting this sleek body to a Panhard chassis. He felt that the car would be able to race at 125 mph (201.25 kph) if it was well tuned. The engine was upgraded to 290 hp with a dual ignition, the brakes were removed from the front wheels and the aerodynamic surface was reduced to the size of the radiator front panel. Eyston shattered even his own targets in February 1934 in Montlhéry with this unique model, managing to drive 214.64 km (133.37 miles) in 60 minutes. The record made waves at the time, but was obviously soon exceeded. Merely twenty years leader, a Panhard two-cylinder vehicle nearly achieved the same performance, reaching 202 km (125.52 miles) in one hour, with an engine that was only one-tenth of the size.
This car was housed at the Panhard plants, initially transferred to the Association des Amis de l’Histoire de l’Automobile (AAHA) and stored at the Linas Montlhéry racing circuit, with the hope that a large Paris motoring museum would be created (1959). When this plan was abandoned, the vehicle was exhibited at the Autorama in Château de la Grange from 1966 to 1970. When Autorama closed, it was returned to Panhard, before finding a fitting home in the Panhard and Levassor collection at the Cité de l’Automobile in 1983.