Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 25th October 2018

After World War II, a lot of car manufacturers were looking into developing new motors. French developer Panhard had been a well-established prewar manufacturer, though the company predicted that it would need to adapt in a post-war market. This foresight led to the development of the Panhard Dynavia, a concept vehicle that experimented with aerodynamics. We’re looking into how the Dynavia was developed.

Origin of the idea

The idea for the Dynavia came from Louis Bionier, who worked for Panhard during the war. He’d studied the movements of birds and fish, seeing how they reacted naturally. Bionier believed that he could build a fast, efficient car based on his observations. He came up with a small vehicle that was powered by a two-cylinder boxer engine.

At the same time, automotive engineer Jean-Albert Gregoire had been working on a similar car that used the same type of engine and he called it the AFG. Panhard eventually hired Gregoire to work with Bionier on a car called the VP2. The vehicle had an aluminium body and it looked similar to the AFG. The VP2 went into production as the Panhard Dyna X.

Following the creation of the Dyna X, Bionier built a concept car that was based around aerodynamic principles.

Design features

The Dynavia came with a two-cylinder OHV GM600 boxer engine, independent suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Made from an aluminium and magnesium alloy called Duralinox, the car was designed to seat four people, although the narrow body meant there was a limited amount of space. The back half of the Dynavia offered good visibility. The top speed of the Dynavia was recorded at being 81.4 mph.

The car debuted at the 1948 Paris Auto Salon and it was highly favoured by the press and public. A second Dynavia was built and shipped off to Grenoble. The car was sold to a private owner in Switzerland.

The favourable reaction highlighted that the public were receptive to an aerodynamic design. Panhard approved Bionier to design an aerodynamic body for the Panhard Dyna Z. Eventually, the Dynavia took up residence in the Cite de l’Automobile museum in Mulhouse.

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By Andrew Bone from Weymouth, England (1948 Panhard Dynavia Prototype) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons