1911 Panhard-Levassor Type Y 6.6 Liter 35hp Open Drive Limousine
Coachwork by J. Rothschild et Fils, Rheims & Auscher, Paris
Car No. 18278
Engine No. 18278
6,597cc T-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Four speed & reverse gearbox with side-chain final drive
Front and rear semi-elliptic springs
2-wheel rear drum and transmission brakes
*Formerly the property of Dr. Augustus D. Juilliard, of Juilliard School of Music fame
*ex-Richard C. Paine Jr.
*Six cylinder car with period electric Bosch starter
The Panhard-Levassor Type Y
For the first dozen years of motorcar production from 1891 Panhard-Levassor occupied the pre-eminent position in the automobile industry. Initially, under the inspired leadership of Emile Levassor, the firm had established the overall pattern for the motorcar that was to become almost universally used in the decades that followed. This système Panhard, having a front-mounted vertical engine driving through a clutch to the gearbox with final drive by side-chain, came to be modified in only one significant respect as shaft drive was gradually adopted as the preferred method for transmitting the power to the back axle.
By 1900 Panhard-Levassor cars had won more races than all the other contesting makes put together, and this was an important factor in forming the opinion of many early motorists that the products of the Société Anonyme des Anciens Etablissements Panhard et Levassor were the 'best cars in the world'. In the early years of the new century demand was such that there was a significant waiting list for new Panhard-Levassors, and those fortunate enough to be shareholders in the firm received an annual 50 dividend on their investment.
In the sphere of racing others such as Mors, Mercédès, Richard-Brasier and Renault came to challenge and take the leading position from Panhard-Levassor, although the winning of two races in 1904, the Circuit des Ardennes and the Vanderbilt Cup here in America, where one fifth of Panhard-Levassor's output of passenger cars was sold, kept the name to the fore. However, it was in the market for passenger cars that the competition was fiercest and for several years the firm lost its momentum. Nevertheless it survived the 1908 financial recession despite a 40 per cent drop in sales and gradually began to reinvigorate its products. Wooden chassis were replaced with those of pressed steel, shaft-drive was introduced for three models in 1908, and at the Paris Salon the following year cars with sleeve-valve engines were introduced although Panhard-Levassor did not immediately abandon the use of conventional poppet-valve engines but made both types in parallel until 1920.
Also in 1909 came the introduction of two six cylinder cars, one chain-driven, the other with shaft drive, both models using the same five liter engine. These were not the first six cylinder cars made by the firm, but until 1909 Panhard-Levassor had only rarely toyed with the concept, despite the fact that Napier had introduced the first viable six cylinder cars for the 1904 season and the success of these had created a strong demand that many other manufacturers, particularly of luxury cars, rapidly moved to satisfy. Prompted by its English agent, Harvey du Cros, Panhard-Levassor built a handful of 11-liter six-cylinder cars in 1906, all of which were exported, the model not appearing at all in the firm's French sales brochures. Two years later an even bigger 'six' was marketed. This 65cv Type U4 was among the largest production cars ever built, having an engine of just over twelve liter capacity. Considering their size, and a price of 29,000 French francs without bodywork, the selling of fifteen examples of these huge cars over a three-year period represents quite an achievement.
In April 1910 a much more practical 6-cylinder model was introduced, this being the 6.6-liter Type Y, its chassis only price new was 20,000 French francs or £800. It was of similar mechanical specification to the U4, including the use of side-chain final drive, but the engine was of more advanced design. The early six-cylinder Panhard-Levassor engines had used individual cylinders, well spaced along the crankcase, and were therefore of exaggerated overall length - in the case of the U4 the engine appears to occupy almost half the total chassis length. When the five liter six cylinder cars were introduced in 1909 The Automotor Journal had commented: 'the construction of the engine is radically different, for the cylinder castings although separate units during the process of manufacture are rigidly bolted together in the finished engine, giving the appearance of a monobloc.' It was this method of construction that was used for the larger Type Y and the result was both a significant reduction in length and a much more rigid engine.
The Type Y continued as a catalogued model until 1915 by which time 59 examples had been sold, the vast majority in 1910 and 1911. Panhard-Levassor advertising proclaimed the six-cylinder cars as 'the vehicle of the Heads of State', and the French government bought a number for official business. Period photographs show President Fallières using a Type Y with fine Rothschild limousine coachwork on formal state occasions, but he was also to be seen in an example bearing a consecutive registration plate and fitted with a tourer body.
The Motorcar Offered
The Panhard-Levassor works records show that car offered here left the Avenue d'Ivry factory on the 19th July 1911, to the order of a Monsieur Hogan of Paris. Nothing is known about this gentleman, but he could well have been the managing director of an agency or garage in the city, it not being uncommon for the name of the individual who placed the order being recorded rather than the name of the business that they represented.
The car was fitted with its open-drive limousine body by J. Rothschild et Fils, this firm, managed by Monsieurs Rheims and Auscher, being responsible for so many bodies that were fitted to Panhard-Levassor chassis from the earliest days. The 'Maison' Rothschild that had pioneered the use of aluminum for body paneling, replacing the traditional wood used for this purpose on horse-drawn vehicles, created in 1901 the original Roi des Belges body style that was so widely copied, and was one of the leading 'Carrossiers' of the belle époque era.
It is believed that this car's first owner was Augustus D. Juilliard; certainly it carries a small brass plaque d'identité on the dashboard, as required for motorcars in France under the decree of March 1899, bearing his name and address. However, the latter is given as 70 Worth Street, New York, which tells us a great deal. Not only must the car have spent some time in France, since such an owner's plate was not an American requirement, but it also confirms that the owner was a gentleman of distinction whose name is still well-known today.
Augustus Juilliard was born aboard ship in April 1836 whilst his parents from the Burgundy region of France were in the process of emigrating to America. In the 1870s he established a successful textiles distribution business and went on to amass a fortune from this and investments in railroads, banking, and insurance. He was a generous supporter of the arts and learning, being a patron of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, whilst he was also President of the Metropolitan Opera from 1892 until his death in 1919. However, it was the $5-million bequest that he made to the Institute of Musical Art in New York that caused this body to re-name itself as the Juilliard Foundation, becoming the Juilliard School of Music in 1946. 'The Juilliard', has a worldwide reputation and its distinguished alumni include Nigel Kennedy, Yo-Yo Ma, Pinchas Zukerman, and Miles Davis, to name a few.
It seems most likely that Juilliard acquired the car in France and later shipped it to the U.S. The listed Worth Street address correlates with his business activities in this era, Juilliard being a noted on New York Company Director records at this address in 1915. The surviving Official Automobile Directory of the State of New York for 1914, note A.D. Juilliard as owning a Panhard at his home address of 11 West 57th Street, it seems most likely that was this car. By the late 1940s, contemporary rally reports in 'The Bulb Horn' recorded the ex-Juilliard Panhard as being in the ownership of C.R. Neidlinger of the insurance business of that name and clearly a pioneering collector. It seems most likely that the car had remained in the U.S. and perhaps in the Tri-State area to this point. Neidlinger is again noted as the owner of the car in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, on October 16, 1959.
The early 1960s were a particularly active period for another noted collector, Richard C. Paine Jr. of Maine. He would famously acquire the majority of Dr. Samuel Scher's collection in 1966/7, and so it is entirely possible that it was in this same period that the Panhard arrived in his collection. It was certainly there from the mid 1970s. In 2007 the car passed from the Paine Collection to the present owner, who after its many dormant years had the car re-commissioned to run.
As befits a motorcar of the nature of this Panhard-Levassor, the passenger accommodation that includes two folding occasional seats is fully trimmed in corded cloth, whilst the chauffeur and footman have leather for their seat. Although it is still largely in original condition, at some stage early in its life the car received a subtle and practical upgrading. Dietz electric lighting was fitted, as were detachable wheel rims, a Carter carburetor replaced the original unit, and most importantly an American-Bosch electric starting system was installed. It appears that the profile of the back mudguards was probably changed at this time to encompass the wheels, rather than having the horizontal line, up-curved at the rear extremity, that is generally to be seen on Rothschild bodies of the period.
The Juilliard Panhard-Levassor is an imposing motorcar of refinement, with adequate power to perform effectively. It was made by one of the great names in the history of motoring, bodied by a leading coachbuilder of the day, and its original owner also occupies his own place in history.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.