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						Panhard Junior 13
The Other Air-Cooled Speedster

Panhard Dyna Junior for sale

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

An exotic, air-cooled speedster from the 1950s — you’re thinking Porsche 356 right? And 99 percent of the time you’d be correct, but this quirky little speedster was actually a product of the 133-year-old French firm Panhard. Surviving in extremely few numbers, the Dyna Junior shows that the Porsche wasn’t the only boxer-engine two-seater being shipped over from Europe in the 1950s.

Recall the inception of the Porsche 356 Speedster, when Austrian-born Max Hoffman, the sole U.S. importer of Porsches, suggested that the company offer a stripped-down version of the 356 cabriolet with a low windscreen for the American market. Well nearly the exact same events led to the Panhard Dyna Junior. An Irish-born man by the name of Joseph Bell Ferguson was importing and selling European exotics at his New York-based Fergus Motors in the 1950s. One of the brands he offered was Panhard, and he cooked up a formal proposal that Panhard should construct a small, affordable sports car for the American market.

With some financial support from Ferguson, Panhard came up with a design for the project and hired Di Rosa to craft a prototype with an aluminum body on its existing Dyna X platform. Ferguson withdrew from the project upon seeing the prototype, but Panhard elected to continue with the project after making extensive changes.

Ten pre-production cars were constructed in aluminum, and Panhard planned to build a total of 500 Dyna Juniors. But demand proved higher than the company anticipated, and Panhard switched to an all-steel body and other measures to suit higher production quantities. In total, about 4,700 Dyna Juniors were built.

Keeping costs down in the precarious post-war years, Panhard based the Dyna Junior on existing chassis from their other cars, starting with the X86 chassis. The front suspension used upper and lower transverse leaf springs, while the rear was a rigid trailing axle with torsion bars. Power came from an air-cooled, two-cylinder boxer engine. Early cars were 745 cc with about 33 hp, while later cars were upped to 851 cc boasting 37 hp. However an optional supercharger could be fitted in 1955, bumping power up to 60 hp. Four-speed manual transmissions were used, and cars were font-wheel drive.

Like the Porsche Speedster, the Dyna Junior was known for having few frills and limited features. There were no external door handles or external trunk access, and interior features were limited to a single dial on the early roadster models. The windshield could be folded down, however, and the cars provided an enjoyable driving experience for the affordable purchase price.

Any Dyna Junior is a rare sight today, as the cars were likely seen as disposable, and spares were probably hard to come by. But this seller on eBay happens to have a pair of them, both 1953 models, along with literature, tools and parts. The cars are both partially restored and have run, but the seller details some work and shortcomings of each car.

The olive-colored car is a legit roadster model with a single gauge in the dash and no side windows. Having been modified for track use in the past, the seller went though substantial effort to restore it to its original appearance. The yellow car is a cabriolet model with more instrumentation and side windows fitted originally. The car is mostly complete and has some nice engine upgrades, but the seller notes some damage and bondo is present in the front end under the paintwork.

With both cars and all spares offered in a single sale, it’s going to take right buyer to bite here. But the cost of entry is probably not too steep, given the niche nature of these cars. For the right sum, we wouldn’t be surprised to find these cars on a boat back to France for a resourceful collector.

See two Panhard Dyna Juniors for sale here on eBay.

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Air-Cooled French Panhard