Non-Radio – Panhard PL-17

Another Non-Radio post, this time about a 1961 Panhard PL-17.

I’ve had Panhards on and off for the last 35 years, and I think this is number 5 or number 6.  I drove all over England in a very similar 1961 during Grad School.

This one had its mechanicals sorted out, including important things like overhauling the brakes & suspensions, rebuilding carburetor and motor mounts and so on by Ralley Motors in Midland Michigan.  I’m not a good at bodywork so a local shop is doing the strip-down and repaint:

Interior reflects the 40,000 KM history

Starting the strip down – the dark on the paint is nearly fifty years of dirt, rather than rust

Fixing old damages, which mostly were the trunk lid and some passenger-side damages

The Hood and Trunk in Primer


Panhard PL-17 engine shroud and inner fenders painted

Engine shroud and inner fenders/firewall painted

The car is being painted in the original blue, and once the basics are all completed I have a specialized electronic ignition to fit, a new upgraded oil-filtering system, and an alternator that looks just like the original generator to fit.  I will also replace all possible bulbs with LEDs to preserve the original lenses and reduce current loading.  Last will be altering the electrical system to take modern fuses.

In all cases I’m not pioneering, having either done the same on earlier cars or following someone else’s successful work.

Quick background, this car is a 2-cylinder, opposed, 850cc (0.85L or 52 cubic inch) engine that in the form put in this car is rated at 60 bhp.  Basically the same size and rating as a medium motorcycle!  This car was built as a PL-17 Tigre (Tiger) which was the higher tuned level the factory put out.

It is front wheel drive, a four-speed (on the column) and is actually a lot of fun to drive.

You have to listen to the engine, as there is no torque-reserve to pull you out of dogging-down if you miss a downshift, nor is there any sort of kick-down horsepower rush available.

The company was absorbed by 1967 and today only produces light military vehicles for mostly the French military & police.

A reputation of being slightly fragile and difficult is perhaps more about needing to gain access to the small community of enthusiasts and suppliers, as well as a proper set of manuals (and special tools).  Manuals can be a bit of fiddle to find as they do not seem to be up on the internet and translated manuals are scarce or require a separate translation.  There are a handful of suppliers, but no great depth.

I took the XYL on our very first date, picking her up in the 1961 PL-17 I had at the time.  I hope she likes this one when it is finished!



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