Car buff: Attorney wins two awards in show


– Photo courtesy of Michael Gzybowski

Attorney Michael Gzybowski won two awards for his Panhard  PL17 in the July 10 Rolling Sculpture Car Show in Ann Arbor.

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

Attorney Michael Gzybowski entered his very first car show in July - and went home with two awards for his Panhard PL17, one of only a handful in the U.S. that are still running.

Gzybowski, a patent attorney with Brinks, Gilson & Lione in Ann Arbor, entered his car in the 21st annual Rolling Sculpture Car Show held July 10 in downtown Ann Arbor, an event that attracts exotic, antique, classic, and one of a kind vehicles.

Gzybowski and his yellow beauty snagged the "Editor's Choice Award" from Car & Driver, and the "Twisted Wrench" Award from Rennstatt, Inc., a local repair company.

"My church, Lifepoint, was looking for events to get involved in so I offered to put my car in the show," Gzybowski says. "This is the first time I've shown my car since I bought it 44 years ago. There were some 300 cars in the show and about 8 to 10 awards and I was the only one who won two.

"Panhard started building cars in the late 1880s and there is a lot of history behind my car," he adds. "I suppose 97 percent of people have never seen a Panhard or even heard of one. It was a treat to just be able to share my car and let people see it. A lot of people thanked me for showing it. My car is not immaculate, but it's beautiful and very artsy and everyone who has ever seen it really likes it."

The car's first owner was an attorney, who bought it from a dealer in Warsaw, Ind. He later sold the car to Gzybowski's friend. When the car stopped running this friend asked Gzybowksi to help her get it in working shape and when she decided to sell the car, she let him have first dibs.

"I bought it for $250 because it was just a real odd looking car," Gzybowski says. "Panhard sold these PL17's in the U.S. in 1960 and 1961 then Citroen bought Panhard out and quit selling them. Only 270 were ever sold in the U.S. It took me over three years to find anyone who knew much about them and how could work on them."

Gzybowski was directed by a museum in the U.K. to John Skene in Cloverdale, Ind., who had bought up the dealer's stocks of parts and worked on Panhards. Skene rebuilt Gzybowski's car over 3 to 4 years.

"Then I went to college, a job as a patent examiner in the U.S. Patent Office and the car was in storage for years," says Gzybowski, who earned an undergrad degree in engineering from Purdue University, and his J.D. from George Mason University of Law in Arlington, Va.

The car was stored at his mother's home in Fort Wayne, Ind. When his mother moved three years ago, Gzybowski brought the vehicle to Ann Arbor. After joining a Panhard club, he found there are fewer than 20 PL17s still running. The club also has a source of parts from a company in France.

"My club is thrilled with my win," Gzybowski says. "I think I'll have to enter it into more car shows from now on."

Gzybowski also found the "Points and Condensers Preservation Society" in Ypsilanti, an organization that stores cars and holds monthly meetings and events.

"I started driving my car around town two years ago," he says. "Last year the carburetor leaked gas onto the engine so I didn't drive it. It turns out there are club members in Ypsilanti available to help work on cars. The carburetor got fixed and the car is running better than ever and I will drive it regularly around town this summer when it's not raining."

Published: Mon, Jul 20, 2015