Panhard-Levassor Dynavia


It's all about low drag, baby.

In 1948, Panhard made quite the splash with this droplet at the Paris Motor Show. The attendees may not have known its drag coefficient was 0.24, and that figure would be 0.01 better than that of a Toyota Prius in 2015.

With just 610cc, 2 cylinders, and 28 horsepower, the Dynavia made due with a Dyna X chassis and powertrain. In the conventional car, drivers would struggle to hit 110 km/h (68 mph). With the slippery bodywork, about 130 km/h (80 mph) was possible. Seats six, too!

Extra speed is fantastic, but its fuel consumption was also on par with a Toyota Prius. Seriously: sources online generally claim its figure to be about 3.5 litres per 100 km (67 mpg U.S.). Just imagine how much fuel we'd have saved if cars like the Dynavia had been common from the '50s and beyond… As it happens, just two were built, and one survives as part of the permanent collection at the Cité de l'Automobile, or better-known as the Schlumpf Collection.

Finally, who should we thank for this beautiful shape? Panhard designer Louis Bionier. There's a great three-part series on him that was last year: be sure to check it out.