Monday, November 10, 2014

Styling Crimes: Panhard Dyna X

It is generally easier to design an attractive large car than come up with a very small car with attractive styling.  That doesn't mean that small cars necessarily must be ugly, though that's all too often what happens.

This post's case-in-point is the Panhard Dyna X, produced 1948-1954.  As best I can tell, the "X" label was applied years after the introduction as a means of distinguishing it from later Dyna redesigns.

Jean-Albert Grégoire was a famous automobile engineer best known for proposing innovative designs (biographical snippet here).  During World War 2, he worked on a small sedan design that, among other features, weighed comparatively little because much of the body was made of aluminum.

His AFG design interested the Panhard firm, but when Paul Panhard licensed the design from AFG and Grégoire in 1943, it was stipulated that Panhard had the right to modify the design.  And modified it was, as the images below indicate.  As best I can tell, the redesign was handled by Louis Bionier and Panhard staff.


AFG-Grégoire prototype from about 1944
Panhard used the engineering as the basis for the Dyna, but the body wasn't considered suitable.

Dyna X prototypes from around 1947
French car buyers strongly preferred four-door sedans, so the two-door AFG design had to be reworked.  The woman in the driver's seat serves to indicate how small the car was.

Prototype Dyna X
A closer look.  The models are posed a short distance beyond the car to make it appear larger than it really was.

Production Dyna X
The main final styling touches are the redesigned grille, the slightly blended headlamp housings and the hood louvres.

Rear three-quarter view of Dyna X

Even though the Dyna entered the market in late 1948, its styling was in line with that of American cars from around 1937.  So the selected design puzzles me because the designers were surely aware that the trend was to "envelope" bodies where fenders and other formerly separate elements were blended into the overall shape of the body.  Perhaps there were technical / manufacturing reasons why the design was so archaic.  But it was what it was, and what it was was a collection of awkward shapes and details, especially those headlamp housings.

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