Emile Levassor designed 'le crabe' (the crab)

The end of the nineteenth century was a time of excitement and innovation where motorisation and the design of an automotive 'car' was concerned.

First important innovation of Emile Levassor

Petrol engines were beginning to pull ahead of gas and steam engines, and Panhard and Levassor enjoyed an exclusive contract with Daimler for the manufacture of a V2 petrol engine.

The oldest Panhard and Levassor (1891) car on the Champs-Elysées in 1921

Then Emile Levassor invented a radically different new concept: he stopped trying to adapt horse-drawn carriages or quadricycles (as Peugeot was doing) instead designing a two-seater car, whose front-mounted Daimler engine drove the rear wheels.
The engine was followed by the clutch and gearbox. The steering was replaced by pivoting wheels. Nicknamed 'the crab', this blueprint for future cars underwent its first trials on the boulevard Masséna. One year later Panhard and Levassor had already sold 6 cars, causing Daimler to say, "you are the father of the modern car".


Book : Benoit Pérot, Panhard, la doyenne d'avant-garde, EPA, 1979.

Video : Panhard: 1890 – 1891 available under https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCMWsyQPbZQ

Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Estampes et photographie, EI-13 (2680)