The Panhard Dyna X was a lightweight compact saloon car designed by the visionary engineer Jean Albert Grégoire and first exhibited as the AFG (Aluminium Français Grégoire)Dyna at the Paris Motor Show in 1946.
Mindful of the precarious economic situation in France in the aftermath of war, and aware of government enthusiasm for expanding the strategically important aluminium industry, thePanhard company, which had been known in the 1930s an a manufacturer of expensive six- and eight-cylinder sedans, purchased the rights to build the little car. The dramatic change of direction was not well received by everyone at Panhard, but it did usher in a period during which Panhard was one of the most loyal followers of the Pons Plan. In view of the fates of France's luxury auto-makers in the next ten years, and the huge development potential that Panhard extracted from the Dyna X, this adherence to the Pons Plan was probably good for Panhard, at least until the early 1960s. The Dyna was made production ready and was emerging in commercial quantities from Panhard's Ivry plant by 1948: it set the pattern for Panhard passenger cars until the firm abandoned automobile production in 1967.
The car was also known as the Dyna 110, the Dyna 120 and the Dyna 130. The numbers in these names represented the progressively increasing maximum speeds (in kilometers per hour), as engine power and size increased during the production run.
The Dyna X saloon was replaced by the larger Panhard Dyna Z in 1954, although some of the sporting derivatives continued in production for a few more years.
Grégoire had during the 1920s and 1930s become known for his expertise in two particular areas of automobile construction, these being lightweight bodies and front wheel drive. The AFG Dyna, planned under difficult circumstances in occupied France, had an all-steel tubular frame chassis, to which was attached a lightweight aluminium four-door superstructure. The style of the saloon was modern and aerodynamic. Contemporary press photographs showing the car with three elegant young women seated in the front and three more in the back were presumably designed to emphasize the car's interior space, and the Dyna X certainly was usefully wider than the Renault 4CV. Nevertheless, the photographs almost certainly employed exceptionally thin young ladies and/or a certain degree of image manipulation, and it would have made more sense, even in that age of austerity, to view the Dyna X as a four seater for most purposes.
The compact engine and the lack of a radiator permitted a wind-cheating front design on which the headlights perched like frogs' eyes, between the wings and bonnet line. The shape of the car changed little during its model life, but one change that did occur involved the headlights and took place early in 1948 when the stand alone conventionally formed headlights were replaced by headlights that could be described as integrated into the bodywork, by means of a reducing torpedo shaped molding linking the rear of each headlight to the space between the wing and the hood/bonnet. The front grille also changed at least once.
Alternative bodies included the two-door cabriolet and a 3-door estate version. A ‘Fourgonette’ light van version was also offered.
The chassis and engine of the Dyna turned up in the Panhard Dyna Junior sports car of 1951 and were also a popular basis for low-volume lightweight sports cars produced by specialist manufacturers.
The Dyna X’s low profile engine was characteristically idiosyncratic. The two cylinder front mounted boxer unit was air-cooled. At launch in 1946 the 610 cc unit delivered a claimed maximum output of 24 hp (17.6 kW) at 4000 rpm, which by 1949 had increased to 28 hp at 5000 rpm. The car’s aluminium body gave it an excellent power-to-weight ratio and in this form a maximum speed of 110 km/h (68 mph). The Dyna X made a considerable impression in the touring car championships of the late 1940s. The car was also noted for its frugal fuel consumption.
Engine displacement was increased in 1950 to 745 cc, and to 851 cc in 1952, by which time claimed output had increased to 40 hp (29 kW) in the Dyna 130, named for its 130 km/h (81 mph) top speed.
The gearbox was a four speed manual unit controlled using a column mounted lever, featuring synchromesh on the top three ratios. Power was transmitted to the front wheels, front wheel drive having been a specialty and an enthusiasm of Grégoire for many years.
In July 1948, in a period during which much of the news was gloomy the car received favourable publicity when an enthusiastic customer called Georges Desmoulin, with two friends, drove a standard car to the north of Finland, well within theArctic circle, covering long distances on roads which, in the north, were still unmade. Desmoulin expressed his delight with the comfort and reliability of the car.
Commercially, the Dyna X nevertheless got off to a hesitant start when compared to the Renault 4CV, which appeared around the same time and which would head the French auto sales charts for much of the 1950s, and the Citroën 2CV, which also caught the mood of the market. Critically, both Renault and Citroën were able to support their sales with a far more extensive national network of dealers and service outlets than that established by Panhard. Sources differ as to the number of Dynas produced: according to a conservative source, by 1954 a respectable 47,049 Dyna X’s had been built, including 33,093 of the four-door saloons.