1901 Panhard et Levassor Tonneau news, pictures, specifications, and information
Rear-Entrance Tonneau
Coachwork: Henri Labourdette
Chassis Num: 213
Engine Num: 2881
Sold for $297,000 at 2007 Gooding & Company.
Sold for $242,000 at 2009 Gooding & Company.
The work performed by the French firm of Panhard et Levassor aided in the technical evolution of the automobile. The work that they did and the innovations that they produced helped acceleration the popularity of the automobile.

Automobile production in France had its advantages. The roadways were far superior to many other countries which led to a quicker acceptance of the automobile. Racing soon became popular, as did car clubs. Racing became one of the major means of advertisements, and it was often said that how an automobile finished during the weekend dictated the sales during the weekday.

There was a close working relationship between Emile Levassor and Gottlieb Daimler. Both were mechanically gifted and together designed and created some of the earliest known examples of the combustion engine. Experimentation and perfection continued during the 1890's. Levassor preferred placing the engine in the front of the vehicle while Daimler's designs had the engine located under the seat.

During an automobile race in 1897, Levassor was seriously injured and died a short time after. The company continued to produce automobiles but their importance in the automotive industry declined. In 1965 it was taken over by Citroen SA.

The Panhard marque is credited with creating the front-engine, mid-located transmission and rear-wheel-drive configuration, and remains as the favored distribution of drivetrain elements in modern times.

One of the earliest proponents of the Panhard automobile was Charles Stewart Rolls. He acquired a four-cylinder Panhard in 1897 and used it in various races, including the Paris-Marseilles road race in which he won. It was used in both endurance and speed events in Britain and on the Continent.

Panhard Et Levassor rear-Entrance Tonneau
The first owner of this automobile was Michel Plancart in Carcassonne, Toulouse who took possession on June 5th of 1901. The car still wears its original French registration plate 11T to this day. It was later stored in a basement of a castle in Carcassonne and later brought to the United States in the 1990s. A complete restoration was performed on the car with many of the original components reused and retained.

In 1996 it participated and successfully ran in the 100th anniversary of the London-to-Brighton Commemorative Veteran Car run. During the event it reached comfortable cruising speeds of 25-30 mph.

The car is painted in a dark green color with a maroon chassis and wheels and maroon leather seating. It is well equipped for the period in which it was created; it has a single Ducellier headlight, a pair of Neverout side-lights, bulb horn and a six-post roof with brass luggage rack. It has a magneto and spark ignition rather than the standard hot-tube ignition.

The car has coachwork by Henri Labourdette, a three-speed manual gearbox, and a water-cooled, two-cylinder engine capable of producing 7 horsepower. In 2007 it was brought to the Gooding & Company auction held at Pebble Beach, CA where it was offered without reserve and estimated to sell for $250,000 - $350,000. The estimates proved accurate and the lot was sold for $297,000 including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
The unusual coachwork on this car was in fact a factory option when new. It was built to resemble a handsome cab, with the driver being seated up front over a concealed engine in all the weather, while the owner sat in comfort in the enclosed cab at the rear. For the added comfort of the passengers, the vehicle has a most unusual, electrically operated gearbox, controlled by rotating the donut-shaped wheel underneath the steering wheel. It also has a clutch, which acts like a preselector gearbox and gives noiseless and smooth gear changes. The car has a four-cylinder 10 hp engine, which propels the whole conveyance around 25 mph - much faster than the horse drawn equivalent of the day!
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