The Panhard company has been mentioned here a few times before, but only in connection with their post-war two-stroke cars. Here’s a look at a pre-war model, which was an entirely different beast altogether. This 1925 model 35CV “Huit” was about as luxurious as French cars got at the time.
The “conduit exterieure” body style was popular with top of the line luxury cars in the 1920s, and it left the chauffeur entirely exposed to the elements. After all, the sort of people who could afford this sort of car didn’t want to breathe the same air as their employees, right? The driver’s compartment tended to be quite small and cramped, dominated by a huge steering wheel, while the passengers lounged in comfort and style in the enclosed back.
The “CV” number gives away that here was a car with an enormous engine. The “CV” indicated the engine size for tax purposes. So the Citroen 2CV and Renault 4CV were certainly at the lower end. The 35CV went along with a 8-cylinder 6350cc engine - power output can really only be guessed at. But to put things into perspective, in 1930 a tuned Panhard 35CV model with a single seater body managed to drive 214.64 km (133.37 miles) in 60 minutes. But even the standard model would have been able to move quickly enough.
The engine itself was of an interesting design - popular in its day, but almost forgotten now. Panhard used “Knight” type engines that used sleeve valves instead of the more common poppet valve construction. While these engines were manufactured in the largest quantities in the USA, the French gave the Knight engine more intensive development than any other nation. Ultimately Knight patents were issued in at least eight different countries and were actually built by about thirty firms.
The design was remarkably quiet and the sleeve valves needed little attention. It was, however, more expensive to manufacture due to the precision grinding required on the sleeves’ surfaces. Also it used more oil at high speeds and was harder to start in cold weather. The engine’s design allowed a more central location for the spark plugs, large ports for better gas flow, and hemispherical combustion chambers that in turn gave increased power. In addition, the sleeve valves required much less maintenance than poppet valves, which needed adjustment, grinding, and even replacement after a few thousand miles. The down side were overheating problems, as the engines could not dissipate heat quickly enough.
After WWII, Panhard...oh wait, jobjoris already told that story, so you can read it there. The model here is a 1/43 by Solido from the late 70s.