PA 1921-29 Belgium
During the early Twenties a leading Belgian marque from Liege whose owner/designer Mons Praillet fitted a range of side-valve and ohv Blackburne engines. Later PA also used JAP and MAG units and built their own 250 two-stroke and 350cc ohv engines. They achieved racing success on the Continent with a string of riders including renowned Brooklands/TT racer Paddy (CW) Johnson.
Pacer 1914 Guernsey
Ultralightweight 116cc JES single cylinder four-stroke engined motorcycles. No survivors recorded but included as the Channel Island of Guernsey isn’t known as a hotbed of motorcycle manufacture!
Paglianti 1954-62 Italy
Moped maker, who introduced a tiny 75cc scooter in 1959. Mopeds appear for sale occasionally.
Paloma 1954-64 France
Saint-Ouen factory established by Michel Humblot who built a range of excellent mopeds with Belgian Lavalette and French Rene Gillet two-stroke engines. Also manufactured 60cc autocycles and 75/125cc scooters.
P&M, Phelon and Raynor, Panther 1900-1967 UK
Among modern sportsbike riders are some who, with no regard for our past, heap scorn by the bucketful on veteran, vintage and classic motorcycles. Each to their own. But with the Panther and its forebears in at least one major respect they’ve missed the point. Many modern sportsbikes, tourers and even commuters use their engine as a major stress member of the rolling chassis. It’s a simple but brilliant concept without doubt, and one which Joah Carver Phelon designed and developed 105 years ago.
Fascinated by engineering and its problems, Joah had a look at the few puttering motorcycles under development as the 19th century drew to a close and didn’t think much of what he saw. The majority were motorised cycles rather than motorcycles and from the outset Phelon knew the motorcycle should be designed from scratch not built as an adaptation of the cycle or tricycle with an engine clipped about its frame.
In partnership with Harry Raynor, their business Phelon and Raynor of Heaton Street, Cleckheaton, manufactured specialist tooling and dies for the wire drawing industry. Although Joah Phelon was by no means the first to design, build prototypes and prepare for quantity manufacture a motorcycle in its entirety rather than motorise a cycle (that honour rests with the German firm Hildebrand and Wolfmuller (1894-1907), his concepts were, for 1900, extremely advanced. And if only his firm had had the finances to hit the big time instantly he’d have taken the UK, if not the world, by storm.
Not only did he design the machine in its entirety with a modern engine for the period, but from day one Joah’s motorcycle used the engine as a frame stress member in place of the downtube and he opted for all chain drive. No slipping belts and Fuller’s Earth for Mr Phelon. Design of the Phelon and Raynor flew in the face of convention but today we know it was sound.
Without the finance or premises to start the scale of production Mr Phelon knew he needed, the design was licensed to industrialist Harry Lawson and one of his companies, Humber. Wisely Joah kept his patents, while Humber paid Phelon and Raynor a fee for each machine they built and the Cleckheaton firm were also permitted to build one motorcycle per month in their own right.
During 1903 Harry Raynor died in a car accident leaving Phelon on his own, but not for long. Richard Moore – whose brother rode a Phelon and Raynor – offered to join Joah in partnership. In 1904 with a small amount of capital and a tiny workforce the partnership of Phelon and Moore was registered.
Development work by the new team continued with a two-speed gear comprising two primary chains and a selective clutch, its patented design credited to Richard Moore. Humber used the gear, too, until their licence with P&M expired and wasn’t renewed, leaving the Cleckheaton factory to plough their own furrow. Motorcycle manufacture steadily increased in volume, along with progressive development of the machine, including the replacement of the automatic inlet valve with a mechanically operated inlet valve, magneto ignition in place of battery and trembler coil, contracting band rear brake and P&M’s own design leading link front fork. A lightweight was listed 1907-10 and Mr Bernard M Marians, a P&M director, rode a 21⁄2hp lightweight at Brooklands in 1911, finishing second in the MCC Club Championship, a handicap race won by Arthur Moorhouse (994cc Indian).
Mr P Shaw also competed with some success before WWl at Brooklands astride a 499cc model. A 770cc V-twin, with the front cylinder acting as a frame stress member, was developed and went briefly into production, but manufacture was suspended after the factory secured War Office contracts for their 31⁄2hp single. During the veteran period, manufacture was moved from the Heaton Street premises to Valley Road, Cleckheaton. Richard Moore flew the P&M flag in local Yorkshire events and the factory entered a three-man team of Drake, Shaw and Sproule on immaculately prepared 500s in the first International Six Days Trial in 1913, winning two gold medals. During the 1907-to-WWI period, the 31⁄2hp P&M was one of the most advanced motorcycles on the British market, a fact not lost on the War Office. Following summer 1913 manoeuvres and a series of trials over a two year period, the Cleckheaton factory was contracted in spring 1914 to supply their 31⁄2hp model in both solo and sidecar trim to the British and Allied forces, with the bulk of their production going to the newly formed Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Although not produced in the volume of the Triumph Model H or Douglas flat twins, the P&M was one of the best models used during WWI, seeing active service throughout Europe, Egypt and the Balkans, many supplied with Mills and Fulford sidecars.
With a return to peacetime and an insatiable immediate post-WWI demand for personal transport, P&M did what they did best – build more 31⁄2hp two-speeders. The V-twin, by then a dated design, was forgotten. Realising new models would be needed to secure their market share, the Cleckheaton factory developed first a 555cc four-speed single (comprising the double primary drive with selective clutch and a two-speed gearbox, although the last models gained a conventional four-speed box) with an eye on the sidecar market, and then a cracking ohv 500.
During 1923 Granville Bradshaw, who’d designed the 350cc ohv oil-cooled Bradshaw engine and the transverse ABC flat-twin, developed the new 500. Comprising a 500cc ohv single with tube-enclosed push rods, all-alloy primary chaincase and four-speed gearbox, the new model was again a leading design. For the first time the model was given a name – P&M Panther – and, at an initial price of £85 fully equipped with electric lighting, it was an attractive, quality buy.
Although not considered by many historians a racing factory, P&M entered the IoM Senior TT from 1924-29, with what were pretty much standard ohv road models simply prepared for racing. Tommy Bullus recording a worthy fourth in the 1925 race led home by the works, racing motorcycles of Howard Davies (HRD), Frank Longman (AJS) and Alec Bennett (Norton). In recognition a TT replica was added to the range.
Realising the need to include lightweights in their range, P&M again engaged Bradshaw to design for them a 250cc model for the 1927 season. Named the Panthette, it comprised an ohv 246cc transverse V-twin built-in unit with a four-speed gearbox, leaf springs to close the pushrod-operated valves, horizontally split crankcase and bevel drive to the gearbox sprocket, enabling chain final drive. Launched at the 1926 Olympia Show, its main frame member, which incorporated the steering head, was an H-section forging with U-shaped steel strips braced by fore-and-aft sheet steel plates to suspend the engine/gearbox unit.
The Panthette’s radical design, along with early teething problems and, at times, lukewarm Press reaction limited sales and depleted P&M’s bank balance. P&M began for the first time installing proprietary engines, using a range of popular 150-250cc Villiers models that helped use up some of the large overstock of Panthette rolling chassis parts.
During the Twenties, chief tester Frank Leach became more and more involved with motorcycle development. His first new designs were a 598cc ohv Panther Sloper and a 500 Panther speedway motorcycle for the 1929 season, both still using the engine as a stressed frame member. Three years later and with the UK struggling out of the depression, Leach came up with a neat ohv 250cc model, its engine mounted sloping style in a conventional frame. Coded the Model 20, it was offered in various guises and was joined by 350cc models.
Later, in a deal thrashed out with huge London cut-price dealers Pride and Clarke of Stockwell Road, Brixton, P&M went on to make the Red Panther models. Production costs and profits were pared to a minimum, resulting in Pride and Clarke offering the Model 20 Red Panther at under £30, the 348cc Model 30 at £35-15s (£35.75) and the sporting 248cc Model 70 for £45. While many sporting motorcyclists despised the Red Panther models, they were sound, reasonably quick machines that proved ultra-reliable for the daily slog to work year-in, year-out, giving their wise, frugal owners the last and longest laugh.
The Red Panther had helped P&M ride out the rough financial storm of the early/mid-Thirties, leading them to expand their range to include 350/500 Redwing Models and continually update their top-of-the-range 598cc Model 100, which was popular both with solo riders and chairmen, too. Panthers were again used in motorcycle sport, including late Thirties ISDTs, and with again Granville Bradshaw’s help, an in-line 600cc vertical twin was under development. And, again like the 770cc V-twin of 25 years earlier, its progress was thwarted by war – this time WWII.
After the war Cleckheaton production restarted with the rigid/girder front fork 598cc Panther 100 (offered with either solo or sidecar gearing), later joined by all-new, upright-engined 250/350cc ohv singles, coded model 60 and 70 respectively and later 65 and 75 with de-luxe models also offered. Dowty air-sprung forks were introduced and, for the 1949 season, competition models named the Panther Stroud (later Stroud Mkll) were offered in 250 and 350cc forms. Leading riders included Maurice Laidlaw and Bill Jackson. During the early Fifties spring rear frame became optional on 250/350cc roadsters and then the Panther 100.
Frank Leach left the company briefly and established his own marque – FLM (Frank Leach Manufacturing) – to produce 125/197cc lightweights using both Villiers and JAP engines c1951-53. Frank rejoined P&M and began designing a range of Villiers-engined lightweights during 1955 for the coming season, starting with the 197cc 8E-engined 10/3 three-speed and 9E 10/4 four-speed singles for the 1956 season. For the 1957 season the 10/3 gave way to the 10/3A with three-speed Villiers 9E engine and a Model 35 with 249cc twin Villiers 2T unit. A proposed Model 25, with either 224cc 1H or 246cc 2H engine, came to little or nothing.
With the P&M management wanting more capacity and more power, the Cleckheaton team reworked for the last time their big ohv single cylinder. The loved and faithful 598cc Panther 100 was stretched, with bore increased by 1mm to 88mm and stroke from 100 to 106mm, to give the 645cc Panther 120.
Launched in September 1958 and coded the Model 120, it delivered. 28bhp at 4500rpm, more power than the 600’s 24bhp at 5300rpm, but the gain was at the loss of oil scavenge efficiency. The longer stroke design meant the piston skirt would clout the flywheels at bdc. Rather than reduce the piston skin length by around ½in and risk slap, P&M skimmed about the same off the flywheels which, in turn, increased the gap between the flywheel rim and the cast oil scrapper. Oil scavenge efficiency is reduced and consumption rate naturally rises. Other modifications included work to the head mounting of the engine as part of its frame stress member role.
Back to two-strokes. The Panther 35 was uprated for the 1957 season to give the Villiers 2T-engined 35 Sports. The 45 Sports with 325cc Villiers 3T engine appeared a year later and the grandly named Panther 50 Grand Sports, again with Villiers 3T power, appeared for 1959. The 35 was the only Panther two-stroke to continue in production until almost the end of the story.
Panther entered the scooter market in 1959 with a Villiers 174cc 2L engined-scooter, the Princess, looking like a Lambretta TV175. The tubular frame shared bodywork with offerings from Dayton and Sun. Offered either with kick or electric start, it continued until 1963, by which time the Official Receiver had been installed for some months at Cleckheaton. In truth, it wasn’t a bad scooter but lacked the image of Vespa or Lambretta, and was launched too late to cash in on the first waves of the scooter boom.
As a teenager, I watched sadly as this proud Yorkshire factory, which I admired for their trend-defying designs, slithered through protracted death throes to their final demise. First came the Official Receiver in 1962, then cut-price deals including over £40 off the 120 by London-based Panther dealers George Clarke in 1965-66 and then finally the Red Panther was back in Pride and Clarke – this time the 250cc Model 35 with red paintwork at a bargain £149-10s. Legend tells us the last Panther 120s to leave Cleckheaton were fitted with overhauled rather than new Magdynos and gearboxes, as both Lucas and Burman had stopped production of appropriate new components.
For many enthusiasts, Panther custody is far more than ownership of a classic motorcycle, it’s a way of life. Enthusiasm, extensive club activities, technical help, camping weekends, touring etc, abound for fans of the big cats from Cleckheaton.
Panther 1933.c1975 Germany
Braunschweig-based firm founded in 1896 as cycle-makers. Began making autocycle-type machines with 73-98cc Ilo and Sachs two-stroke engines. Production was suspended at the outbreak of WWII and didn’t restart until 1950 with the 98cc two-stroke Sachs-engined TS98.
More Sachs-powered models followed, including the 9bhp 175cc KS175S. Mopeds joined the range and continued long after motorcycle manufacture had ended. The Panther was exported at various times to many countries including the UK, where it was sold as the Leopard to avoid any confusion with Cleckheaton-built machines.
Many spares are still available for post-WWII Sachs engines along with limited numbers for pre-WWlI Sachs and Ilo units, making the German Panther an interesting and practical lightweight.
Pannonia 1951-75 Hungary
Along with Danuvia, Panni, Tinde and White (the Pannonia brand marketed in the USA) the Pannonia was built in Budapest, Hungary by the state owned Czepel works. While Pannis were predominantly 48cc mopeds and mini-scooters, the Pannonias were two-stroke motorcycles. Production began with Jawa-like single cylinder models, later joined by two-stroke twins. Although not recognised as a great sporting marque, Pannonia gained national Hungarian motocross success in the Sixties. Although the Pannonia sold well in Eastern Bloc countries during the years of communism, the Hungarian company wanted a slice of the huge American motorcycle market, But the US public viewed the Pannonia as a strange looking device and it had no known racing or off-road success outside its native country. Large sums were spent on promoting the Pannonia as the White in the USA, but sales were poor.
Through the late Sixties and early Seventies, Pannonia sales fell in Eastern Europe leading to production ending in 1975. Survival is fair, with examples surfacing at many European jumbles, but spares back up is near nil.Enjoy more The Classic MotorCycle reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.