Rare Rides: A Panhard PL 17 Tigre Cabriolet From 1963

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a panhard pl 17 tigre cabriolet from 1963

Rare Rides introduced the Panhard brand to the series a while back, showcasing the little 24. The miniature coupe would end up as the last passenger car offering from the brand before it was stomped out by its parent, Citroën.

Today we’ll take a look at an even smaller Panhard from 1963. It’s a rare PL 17 convertible, in even rarer Tigre guise.

The PL 17 was the first Panhard model developed with guidance from Citroën. After the French giant got involved with the smaller manufacturer in 1955, all its models continued unchanged until the PL was introduced in 1959. PL was an all-new line for Panhard, and the direct successor to its Dyna Z model. Panhard started its Dyna line of cars with the Dyna X in 1945, and continued it through the Dyna Junior in 1951, and finally the Dyna Z that went on offer in 1953.

The new PL 17 was in fact a rework of the Dyna Z. While the PL was much more streamlined for a proper early Sixties look, it maintained the same 101.2-inch wheelbase. Modernization carried extra weight with it, and all versions of the PL weighed at least 200 pounds more than the equivalent Dyna Z. The extra heft was down to cheaper steel panels that replaced the aluminum ones of prior Panhards.

Initially offered only as a sedan in 1959, a convertible version joined the ranks in 1961, followed up by a five-door wagon in 1963. In the earlier days of production, the PL sourced power from a carryover Dyna Z engine: an air-cooled 848-cc boxer two-cylinder offering 42 horsepower. The transmission sat at the rear; exhaust was at the front. 1960 saw the arrival of more power via an 851-cc version of the same engine. That meant a jump to 50 horsepower, or 60 for more powerful “Tigre” sports versions. A single transmission was available — a four-speed on the tree. Lightweight 180-inch cars could reach 81 miles per hour in standard guise, or 90 as Tigres.

All the while, Citroën had its hand on Panhard’s pricing and model offerings. The company ensured that pricing was not competitive with Citroën cars, and thus Panhard was not a threat to other French marques, either. Though more refined due to its engineering, Panhards were less powerful and more expensive than other offerings. It wasn’t all bad news though, as Panhard took the PL 17 out to do some rallying. With the PL, the marque placed first, second, and third in the 1961 Monte Carlo Rally.

The 17 continued with its small sales figures through 1965. At that point, it was replaced by the 24 as Panhard suffocated under the wet blanket of Citroën ownership. Today’s restored Rare Ride went to auction recently in Lyon, France, and was expected to bid between $65,000 and $88,000.

[Images: seller]

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  • Ttacgreg Ttacgreg on Nov 18, 2019

    It would be interesting to know what sort tweaks they made to the 851cc motor over the 848cc because most certainly the extra 3cc could not possibly account for 8 or 18 more horsepower.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Nov 19, 2019

    A couple thoughts. That car is kinda cute. In an era of angry Pokemon, this is especially refreshing. Is 45hp good for a 2 cylinder engine of the time period? How did it compare to small 4 cylinders? Also, that front end vaguely reminds me of The Muppets Mana Mana video, the big pink puppets.

  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……