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Krebs' hand written note
about the origin of the Société Anonyme des Anciens Établissements Panhard et Levassor (Exhibition 1902)



Note about the origin of the Société Anonyme des Anciens Établissements Panhard et Levassor
(Exhibition 1902) 

Origin of the company

    The Société Anonyme des Anciens Établissements Panhard et Levassor collected in 1897 the heritage of a House whose state of services in mechanics were yet brillant.

    Périn, inventor of the band saw, founded in about 1846 the House who became later the Société Panhard et Levassor. His workshop was dedicated to wood machines construction and particularly the saw he was the inventor.

    The name of the House had been :
in    1846 Périn
       1867 Périn Panhard
       1872 Périn Panhard and Cy
       1886 Panhard and Levassor
       1897 Société Anonyme des Anciens Établissements Panhard et Levassor

     From the origin, the House carried on providing the most irreproachable manufacture, essential condition for wood machines which generally comprise parts set in motion by very rapid movements.

Construction of first gas engines
and first petrol engines

    These habits of work precision brought the House to deal with construction of gas engines from the years 1875. Soon, after 1886, it started the construction of petrol engines whose patents had been bought from M. Daimler of Carnstadt.

Creation of the first automobile

    In 1891 the Panhard House realized the first motorcar operated with petrol engine, thanks to the persevering energy of one of its leaders, the missed Émile Levassor. Thus it can be considered exactly as the cradle of the automobile industry.

Creation of several dispositions
now adopted by all constructors

    Since the first car left the Panhard Levassor workshops, each year had been point out by new improvements, whose whole, adopted by all constructors, state the type universally known as the French type after being simply the Panhard type.

    This type is featured by the following points :

- Engine at the front
- Wooden wheels
- Steering wheel
- Change speed lever
- Position of the radiator
- General disposition of the motion transmission
- Wooden armed chassis.
    Each step cleared of, each progress realized, received its approval during great sportive events to which Company’s cars took part.
1895    Paris - Bordeaux - Paris (endurance) 
1896    Paris - Marseille - Paris (endurance) 
1897    Paris - Dieppe (1st use of the radiator) 
1898    Paris - Amsterdam (steering with irreversible steering wheel, balance of four cylinders engines) 
1899    Paris - Bordeaux (radiator on front) 
1899    Tour de France (brakes with shoes on the differential) 
1900    Paris - Toulouse (change run without angle pinions shift) 
1901    Paris - Berlin (engines without  cylinder head gasket, mechanism suspended by three points) 
1902    Paris - Vienna (engines with extra light steel cylinders, use of the nickel steel, brake on wheels tightening  forward and backward). 
    In all these events the Panhard Levassor Company attempted to keep its superiority by the good design and the good execution of its cars and not by the use of engines with an exaggerated power.

     Between enhancements which stood out each of the steps above and whose most of them had been patented by the Panhard Levassor Company, we will particularly point out the following topics :

     The irreversible steering whose usage is became so general that it seems impossible to make now a motorcar which should not fitted with it, as well as in France and abroad.

 Balance of engines, of four and two cylinders.
 The mechanism suspended by three points (the January 14th, 1901 patent).
 The brake with shoes on the differential which constituted an epoch-making progress as well (the December 16th, 1898 patent).
 Engines with steel cylinders (the October 23rd, 1901 patent).

Choice of materials - testing methods

     While these new dispositions where created, continuous improvements where brought out to the building, the choice of materials, the good execution of the work and the design of the whole and of the details.

     First cars were fitted with ordinary conditions in usage in mechanics; engines’ power being not then considerable there were no difficulty to realize the motion transmission in such conditions.
     Engines power increasing and lightness conditions having to be respected; we had to have recourse to more resistant metals than those usually employed.

     The Panhard and Levassor Company, after having studied with the greatest care the result given by the temper of ordinary steels, adopted the first the nickel steels for the manufacture of speed gears and crankshafts (the first order of nickel steel sent to the J. Holtzer House, is dated of June, the 3rd of 1901).

     The choice of the steel, and in a general manner, the metals best suitable to all parts of the car, had been done as a result of lot of resistance tests, and in particular shock tests, executed after the most new methods. The Panhard and Levassor Company, were the first (in the automobile industry) to use it in tests for guiding us in the choice of new metals to employ and for studying the suitable treating for these metals. We think we can say that nobody before us used these tests for the study of fragility of hard steels.

     The Company’s testing service includes, more than the mechanical testing laboratory, a chemical testing laboratory. The Panhard and Levassor Company did not conceive the application of a great power engine to a race car unless this engine should be particularly light, so, the first one, she had been lead to employ steel forged cylinders with brass water jackets.

     So she obtained engines of 60 nominal HP (70 real), weighting only 4 kg by real HP, and 24 nominal HP (30 real) weighting only 5 kg by real HP.

     The engines of this type which got a so brilliant success in 1902 between Paris and Belfort, were ordered to the Holtzer House, concerning the cylinders, since the 31 October 1901. The construction of these cylinders had been patented on the 23 October 1901.

Many types of cars
according to the varied needs of the clientele

     Concerning the types of cars, the Panhard and Levassor Company did not be afraid to face a problem of an extreme difficulty : constitute, by the mean of a reduced number of interchangeable parts, a considerable number of types satisfying all of the requests.
     This result had been obtained the most completely. The buyer who comes in the Company’s office can choose between cars of eight different powers, varying from 5 to 60 HP, and for each power, between 40 solutions perfectly defined and adapted to all types of bodies.
     We think have to insist on that point, which constitute one of the main strength of the House and which not could be obtained without bringing in studies and work a lot of order and method.
     Execution of parts were not less coordinated than the design of types of cars, interchangeability being obtained by the use of improved machines fitted with studied mountings stated by the Company and ensuring the good execution independently of the worker’s skill. 

     At last, that important fabrication (today 120 cars a month) is controlled by a special verification service completely independent from the workshop and to which each parts is submitted after each step of shaping.

Novelties presented at the Exhibition 1902

     The novelties presented by the Panhard and Levassor Company at the Salon 1902 are briefly described in the notice A and the drawings jointed.

     We allow us however to point out to the jury’s attention the following topics :
     We consider that the automatic carburetor constitute a very important improvement and totally new. Since we realized that device and requested the public to verify the way it operates, we had been noticed the lot of efforts made in order to get the same result. The existence of these different trials is not surprising us because we did ourselves similar trials earlier which did not go forth, the results being not more conclusive than those obtained by our competitors. The reason is that the solution caught could only be realized after a study absolutely complete and rational of the very subtle phenomena which occurs within the carburetor during the engine’s changes of speed. This study is exposed in the notice B, presented to the Académie des sciences in her assembly of the 22 November 1902.

    Experiences to which the public can daily attend in the Grand Palais, since the opening of the exhibition, prove superabundantly that the result is attained.

Importance of the Panhard and Levassor Company

     The good traditions of work and loyalty of the Panhard and Levassor Company gained her the sympathy of a numerous clientele ; so her turnover reaches annually more than fourteen million francs. The business she does abroad can be evaluated to a third of her turnover.

     The House had built until today more than five thousand cars and see periodically coming back in her repairing workshops the oldest cars which left her workshops. All these cars are carrying out their regular service and had saved their trade value, this is an advertising practically alive which exempt her to do more.

     Therefore the Company just had to build, next to her construction workshops, repairing workshops which occupy a surface of 7000 m². Workshops which are the subject of the biggest attention because it is there the new dispositions are judged ultimately. It is also there we often find the inspiration for new dispositions to adopt.

    The Company builds also standing engines for Electro-generator groups for varied utilization and boats powered by these engines. She won a lot of success in that branch of industry.
 At last she applies as well her engines to light machines for railways.
     The Company besides carry on the fabrication of wood machines and saw’s blades.