Citroen usually springs to mind when thinking of quirky French cars, but in the late 1960s, Panhard gave that firm a run for its money. Featured on a recent episode of "Jay Leno's Garage," this 1967 Panhard 24 BT showcases the automaker's unusual style.
Weighing just 1,800 pounds, the 24 BT is powered by an 850-cc air-cooled twin-cylinder engine. The tiny engine means top speed is limited to about 90 mph, but the car also gets 40 mpg, Leno said. It also didn't stop Panhard from racing these cars. The "24" is a reference to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Panhard won the Index of Efficiency prize for fuel economy.
The 24 BT stands out thanks to sleek styling (which has more than a hint of Chevrolet Corvair), as well as exposed four-corner drum brakes that are bolted directly to the wheel rims.
1967 Panhard 24 BT on Jay Leno's Garage
Originally called Panhard et Levassor, Panhard was one of the earliest automakers, pioneering the panhard rod, which is still in use today on some vehicles. While its early cars were fairly extravagant, after World War II the company refocused on smaller, more efficient designs.
That didn't work out, as 1967 was the last year of Panhard passenger-car production. The car division was absorbed by Citroen, but Panhard continued making military vehicles. After several mergers, the Panhard name disappeared from those vehicles as well in the early 2000s.
It's unlikely that you will stumble upon a Panhard 24 BT, as very few were sold in the United States when new. This one was imported from France by television producer Quinn Martin, Leno said. Watch the full video to see it in action. Unless you live near Leno's famous garage, you'll probably never see one in the wild.