This was ironic, given that the company pioneered the once-conventional layout of front engine and rear-wheel drive as the Système Panhard in motoring's earliest years, but it meant that when Panhard hit deep financial trouble in 1955, front-driven Citroën was a sympathetic rescuer. Or so it seemed until Citroën took complete control in 1965, killed the PL17 and stopped production of Panhard's surviving 24BT and 24CT coupés in 1967.
Panhards were sold in small quantities in the UK but you had to be a bit eccentric to buy one. Even a similarly streamlined Citroën ID or DS seemed normal next to the PL17, not least because it had an engine normal people could relate to. Today, PL17s and their relatives do venture out occasionally; I encountered a cluster at Brooklands on Drive-it Day in 2011, including one converted into a half-car trailer to match its bright green tow car, and the Oily Rag meeting at Bicester Heritage has been known to attract a few more. It's that sort of car, appealing to lovers of nuts and bolts and strange machinery at work.
And then there was the celebration dinner in Hamburg, I think, to mark the crowning of the current Fiat 500 as Car of the Year 2008. It took place in a converted warehouse containing a car museum, classic car storage, restoration workshops and a few classic car dealers. One of these had for sale, at a cruelly affordable price, a freshly-restored PL17 and my heart was a-flutter, not least because it was painted the light mauve of my Dinky Toy.