• This French company was one of the first automakers to place the engine in the front rather than the center of the car.
  • The Voiturette featured tiller steering and carriage-type lights with candles.
  • It used hot tube ignition.



In 1886, Parisians René Panhard and Emile Levassor became business partners.  They were experimenting with gas engines and had become the sole French agents for Daimler engines.  Experiments continued and modifications were made, the result being a V-shaped, 2-cylinder gasoline engine.

In the early 1890s, most motorized vehicles had the engine in the center, under the floor.  Panhard and Levassor tried their engine in that location, then at the back, and finally moved it to the front in a vertical position.  After winning a number of important road races with the new engine location, the partners were confident that the design change was a good one.  Eventually, most other manufacturers adopted this idea.

The Panhard et Levassor firm brought out their first sales catalog in 1892.  The vehicles offered had tiller steering and the carriage-type lights used candles.  There was no electrical system for ignition, so the “hot tube” was used in place of spark plugs.  The “hot tube” was operated by turning the fuel valve on, then lighting the burners (one for each cylinder).  The cylinder probes above the flame heated up which, in turn, fired the fuel mixture in the cylinders.  Top speed was advertised as 12 mph.  Fifteen of these vehicles were produced in 1892.

1965 was the last year of production for the Panhard et Levassor name when the company merged with Citroën.



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