CD Panhard LM64 #45 – Spark

1964 CD Panhard LM64 #45
Pilots: J. Allen, J. Canal, W. Stevens
Team: S.E.C.A CD
Race: DNF (P 3.0 class) at Le Mans in 1964
Spark - S5072 (resin)

Published 03/11/23

Up until 1961, Charles Deutsch had a partnership with Rene Bonnet. Both talented French engineers, they were responsible for the “DB” Panhard competition cars for many years. With the end of the DB brand, Bonnet went to work for Renault while Deutsch continued working with Panhard. The first car that Deutsch created for Panhard was the CD Panhard Dyna, which raced at Le Mans in 1962. It came not only first in class but also won the Index of Performance. Soon after, Panhard created a road version of the car, for the general public. Based on the Dyna, in 1964 Deutsch designed something even more advanced. Officially called the CD Panhard LM64, Deutsch produced two cars. The chassis (from the Dyna) had a steel central backbone for rigidity covered by a fiberglass body. The engine was a small 2-cylinders 848 cm³ boxer, that with a Sferma supercharger delivered 78 hp.

While the big dogs focused on overall wins, privateers were always after the IoP.

Interestingly, the idea behind the LM64 was not to win Le Mans. Charles Deutsch was after the Index of Performance (IoP), and perhaps, a class win. Nowadays, it may sound strange for a race team not being interested in winning a race. However, up until the 1970s the IoP was huge. Created in 1926, the IoP was a not very simple calculation with parameters that varied through the years. In a nutshell however, it was calculated according to the distance covered by the car, target distance (set by ACO) and engine capacity. That being so, small displacement engines had a better shot at it. With a very hefty prize money as a stimulus, many teams focused on IoP. However, with such a small engine, the LM64 needed an advantage. Therefore, Deutsch had to make it aerodynamically efficient.

Panhard LM64: a car ahead of its time.

The design of the LM64 was nothing short of groundbreaking. Charles Deutsch used design elements decades ahead of its time, like a smooth underfloor and the rear shaped like a diffuser. Moreover, the car had an absurdly low Cx of 0.12. Just to put that into perspective, to this day no other car at Le Mans had such a low drag coefficient. Weighing just 570 kg, the LM64 reached 220 km/h on the Mulsanne straight. Unhappily though, none of his two cars finished the race. LM64 #45 (chassis #LM64/1) retired with a broken gearbox, and engine troubles retired LM64 #44 (#LM64/2). On the plus side, both chassis survived and exist to this day. LM64/2 even raced at the Goodwood Festival of Speed  (3m06s) in 2016.

No beauty contest winner, however the LM64 was sleek.

So the LM64 is not a winner and quite frankly, it is ugly. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s fugly or dog-ugly, yet it is far from beautiful. VERY far, in fact. On the other hand though, it was ground-breaking. Think of ground effect 17 years before Norbert Singer came up with the idea for the 956. Therefore, an oddball of a car with quite a history behind it. Though I would expect such weirdness from Bizarre instead of Spark, I’m not complaining. Spark recreated it masterfully in 1:43, and I ordered one as soon as they announced it. Being factual, weirdness aside, it’s a FANTASTIC model. So if goofy cars with heavy history behind it float your boat, this one is great. And for me, therefore, it’s perfect for the W143 Garage!

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