(first posted 9/25/2014) At about 6:30 Saturday night, I looked up from resetting the trip odometer after filling the gas tank. And this grill was coming toward me. Stacked headlamps and spare lines. Way too much grill for a Mercedes 250SE coupe, but even farther from Lincoln, once champion of the chrome grid face. It kept moving, sleek and tailored. Then I remembered reading about the Facel Vega. I think I’ve seen one or two in pictures, never at a show or a museum. Or a gas station.
So I hop out of my car with my phone, and ask the kindly owner if I can take a few pictures. After all, I never expected to see a Facel anywhere, let alone getting gas at Beverly and LaBrea. He was surprised I knew what his car was—although, at the time, I hadn’t really thought about the difference between the first Facel Vega of the late 50s, and this car, the Facel II of the early 60s. Of course, once you’ve read about a Chrysler Hemi in a hand-built French touring coupe, you’re not likely to forget what it is.
Unfortunately, the gas station didn’t combine well with the natural light; and I was already late for something, and a gentleman refueling a Facel II at 6:30 on Saturday can only be on the way to dinner at 7. So these pictures don’t live up to this well-kept example, not at all.
The Vega II has a swooping windshield, and as you go backwards the car looks more and more like our host’s beloved, influential Pininfarina Florida. The main difference is that the Vega II has a vanishingly small chrome c-pillar and a curving backlight. This goes with the fast front. With a roof that seems substantially lower than the Florida’s, the Vega II passenger cabin still looks like a greenhouse instead of a bunker. The view from the rear is especially Floridian.
Unfortunately, my photo of the beautiful interior, which looks like the best of later Jaguars and Maseratis combined, didn’t come out at all, but here’s one from the web. Delicious.
By way of background, there’s no automaker I’ve had less contact with than Facel. The Facel Club reports that they made 184 Facel IIs between 1961 and 1964. The first Facel Vega (FV,FVS, HK500) was relatively common in comparison, with almost a thousand made.
The company’s downfall was a smaller car, the Facellia, a twin-cam 4-cylinder convertible intended to be affordable, maybe something like an Alfa Giulietta Spider in price and character. The engine, chosen because it was designed and manufactured by the French Pont-à-Mousson company, was so bad that Facel had to replace all of them under warranty, the blow that finished the company. Total Facel Vega production was roughly 10 years, 1954-1964, and probably fewer than 5000 all-in.
Jean Daninos revived “Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure et de Loire,” a concern started in the 1930s to provide tooling to the aircraft industry, by providing manufacturing capacity to others, including Panhard, after WWII. Facel’s biggest success in this regard was the Ford Comète, a hardtop coupe of the early 1950s, ultimately derived from a Pininfarina design. The first Facel Vega prototype was designed in 1951, and the Chrysler Hemi arrived from the U.S. in May of 1952, with assistance of Edwinston Robbins, an Army Air Force colonel stationed in France.
The car had a tubular frame chassis, with diagonal bracing and two cross members between the engine and the center of the car, intended to provide rigidity, road holding and balance. Ultimately, the leaf-sprung solid axle in the back would condemn the big Vega and Facel II to mixed reviews for handling.
The Facel II, now powered by a Chrysler 383 wedge-head V8, would have a top speed of 130-140 mph, but other than the new body the basic car was not substantially changed from the early 50s prototype. Here, losses from the Facellia engine disaster left no resources for substantial engineering changes to the later big cars.
The big cars certainly had their admirers, Stirling Moss had a ’59 Vega, Ringo Starr had a Facel II. For pure power, you couldn’t do much, or any, better than a healthy 383 and Torqueflite in those days. And the styling is, if not to every taste, somewhat timeless. The Facel II seems like a worthy rival to today’s Bentleywagen Continental, not so much outdated as unlucky not still to be in the game. It seems like Facel is another reminder that being an automaker is hard: no matter whether you build Hemis and Torqueflites by the million, or you put the best hardware in a car fit for the most beautiful people, you’re probably going to experience bankruptcy, some time or other.
Surprisingly, I knew about Facel Vegas as a teen. It seemed they could be occasionally spotted in San Francisco and Marin County, California, though in retrospect they were probably all the same two cars (colors differed).
I, too, was aware of Facel Vegas as a teenager in the 60’s, you could occasionally spot one around L.A. But they were pretty rare, and such an oddity that you pretty well dismissed them immediately upon seeing one, and they never made much of an impression. But this is a stunning looking vehicle, very elegant in a sporty way. Not only the windshield, but those taillights look like they were borrowed from the Imperial. Btw, that black California license plate places the registration of this car in CA squarely in 1966, for what that’s worth. Must have been quite the serendipitous moment to have one of these pull up behind you in a gas station.
Oddly enough, this (yes, 1966) license plate is very close to the one on the Avanti written up earlier this week.
I remember seeing a small b&w front 3/4 shot in a magazine in the early 60’s, possibly Popular Mechanics? I thought it was the most beautiful car I’d ever seen. 🙂
Superb. I’ve never seen one in the metal, unfortunately. The interior looks sumptuous.
Yeah, the sheetmetal is nice, but the interior is dead sexy.
Wow, what a rare find! Sure beats my best gas station find, which was a Fiero Indy Pace Car. 🙂 I have read about these but don’t recall ever seeing one. I’m not sure that I had even heard of the Facel II.
These always mystified me as a kid. All of the books about world cars seemed to think that the Facel Vega was so important, but I had never seen a one. Of course, Fort Wayne Indiana was hardly the playground of foreign exotics. But this is the kind of insight that often escapes an 11 year old.
Looking further, that compound curve windshield looks like it might have been another donation from Chrysler.
I can see why you might say that, given how widely spread they were 🙂 But I think not, actually. The Facels were decidedly narrower than the big Chryslers. Look at the shot of the rear end, where the owner is pumping gas into it. The narrowness of the Facel’s greenhouse compared to a Chrysler is pretty evident. Now if the Valiant had used a version…..
Good point. I must still be coming down from the painkillers from some minor surgery yesterday. 🙂
Could it be the same screen as used on the Rover P5 Coupe?
Why search for so much commonality? I’m sure that if Facel had raided the parts bin of other makers, the end result would not have been as pleasing. I’m not hundred percent certain, but I’m pretty sure most of the parts are bespoke.
When you have to conform to parts already made, you end up with too many compromises. Like Colin Chapman, having to design the Elan +2S around the windscreens of the (1961-64) Ford Capri he already had made a deal with Ford to have delivered. When the car eventually came out to market, the Ford was already phased out, and there wasn’t any synergy anyway.
Chapman should be the master of making the most of other makers bits, but the end result always gets compromised, as you have to make a whole of parts that weren’t made to fit together from the start. You can never get that sense of unity you get from the Facel Vega. If they raided other makers parts, it’s the cleanest end result I have seen in my life.
There is a picture of the first prototype here: picture
It really looks like they changed both the A-pillar and the back window between the first prototype and production, which I don’t think they would have done if they had been sourcing the glass from another car.
Congratulations, what an incredible find!
Saw one of these in a body shop in Keene, New Hampshire, about 50 years ago. Comment from one of the men in shop, “Not the first time it’s been here.”
I’ve seen pictures of the Facel-Vega, but I’ve never seen one in the wild. Nice shots…even if you were in a rush. I especially like the interior.
The back view has memories of the early 1950s Cadillacs.
Years ago, I got a ride in an HK 500 while hitchhiking, it was FAST! I remember that the dash wasn’t wood, but metal painted beautifully to look like wood, even to the “glove box”, which opened on to another panel, also beautifully painted to look like wood. easily the most exotic car I had come across at the time. Elegant!
Many has remarked on the painted interior panels, as it was some kind of oversight. The point is that Daninos company were experts in alloy making, so of course every last panel is handbeaten to perfection by them. Even the “faux wood” is a Facel trademark, it was supposed to look like it was painted, as some kind of ironic statement. But I can see the irony flew over many peoples heads. In any case, it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to make it look like ersatz wood, it was just a play with the fact that everything was made in alloy, even the wooden planks of the interior.
I used to see one in Seattle, at the south end of Queen Anne Hill, years ago. It was a fascinating car.
Camus was killed in one of these.
Oh man! What a sight! I love owners who drive their classic cars around to show. It is a big risk, I admit but damned cool nonetheless. I love the original mint condition 60’s CA plates too.
I’ve gotten gasoline from this very same station many times, but the only cars I have seen there once in a while, of course. were your standard Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. Seriously. not worthy of taking photos as such as this one. 🙂
And holy moly! only 180 were produced from 1962-1964 What a find indeed!
As “Italian” as the Facel Vega seemed, it was actually built in France.
Oops; I can’t believe I did that, and nobody noticed except you. Embarrassing. But I’ve just been thinking about some actual Italo-American cars (Iso, etc), andit must have been on my brain.
Yeah, I guess us car guys are like that.Don`t be embarassed, just a minor faux pas,as the French might say.
I occasionally stop at that Chevron station – what luck to be there when this rare automobile was being fueled. Beautiful cars. I know I’ve seen a couple of the Excellence models in museums and on the streets of LA but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coupe outside of pictures.
The pillarless Excellence hardtop (Zackman must love it!) fascinated me as a kid but with the lack of side support structure (the design made one think of an overly thin fashion model), I would not want to be in one in a crash.
Gorgeous,I saw a silver one in the mid 60s in Oxford Street London near the Marble Arch end from the top of the bus.I love Euro American exotics like this.Once there were so many,I think Bristol was the last survivor.
The FVII has always been one of my favorite GT cars of the sixties, perhaps *the* favorite–to find one in a gas station would be a ridiculous storke of luck. I’ve never seen one “in the metal” but I’ve been enamored with them ever since acquiring a car book, when I was 10 or 11 years old, that featured photos and a detailed writeup of the Facel II. And it just struck a chord with me. I love the clean lines, the unique and low greenouse, the bladed rear fenders and the curve of the decklid between them, the distinctive grille… Euro cars have glass-covered headlamps instead of these quad sealed beam units, and I think they work even better with the lines. And that interior! Absolutely a work of art.
The Excellence sedan is also a favorite of mine. The finned rear may be a bit fussy, but it did date from 1957 as opposed to the II’s 1961, and the rest of the bodywork shows a clear family resemblance. Plus, like the sixties Lincoln Continental, it’s a suicide-door true hardtop. Pure class. (and lots of body flex, but you can’t have everything). And it shares the 383 powertrain with the HK series and Facel II.
More proof that when the French get it right, they get it *really* right. A prime spot in my fantasy garage would definitely be reserved for one of these.
The 61+ Lincoln Continental four-door sedans had pillars, albeit thin ones, so were not true “hardtops.”
Really…huh. Never noticed that. I think I always just assumed that the sedans would have been true hardtops, given the existence of the convertible!
You would think. Lincoln made a compromise on the ’61 Continental that took some courage. Hardtop and American luxury went hand-in-hand in the late ’50s.
Considering the desire for a four door convertible, it’s pretty amazing that Lincoln went with suicide doors. In order to get rid of the pillar, they had to account for which door would open first to allow the weather strip between the glass panes to clear. On a conventional hardtop, the rear door gasket slips in behind the front pane. On the Continental convertible, the rear door glass has to retract a few inches before you open the rear door if the front door is not open. I believe Ford engineered an automatic system that actuated when you pulled the door release handle. Continental experts would have to verify this.
That ’57 Facel Vega Excellence pictured above is an amazing car, but the limits of being a small shop reared their head. My understanding was that all the complexity of the body led to problems like the rear doors falling open on turns, not exactly a selling point for a luxury car.
So, in exchange for suicide doors, Ford made the ’60s Lincoln sedan a bit more practical with a pillar, stiffening the body, reducing the need for heavy undercarriage bracing, and and avoided trying to build a volume car with added technology in the windows that would tend to be far less reliable in the ’60s then it would be today.
A few years ago at an auto swap meet/show I mentioned the automatic window down feature on the L-C to a friend as we were looking at a 61 convertible. When she doubted me, I just had to open the rear door to prove it (the owner signaled an OK). Sure enough, the window automatically went down a few inches.
As I understand its history, the 61 Lincoln Continental represented a series of compromises given that it was based on a design that was supposed to be the Thunderbird coupe. Because rear legroom was so tight, they had to go to the suicide door configuration to ease access to the rear seat. The trunk was small for a luxury car and the beautiful curved side glass – later dropped – further restricted interior space. Sales did not really take off until later years when the car was stretched, offered as as a hardtop coupe, and overall made more conventional. Still a beauty, though.
A friend’s Mercedes (2002 CLK) does the window trick. Lowers a touch when you open the door, raises a touch when you close it. That car being a coupe, and a non-hardtop one at that (the 1st gen CLK was not a pillarless hardtop like the second one was) I always assumed it was a way to have frameless doors without the possibility of wind noise as the window tucks neatly into a channel in the roof.
Pretty impressive that the Continental convertible did it in the 60’s!
The drop glass feature is also used on the ’02-05 Thunderbirds (ask the man who owns one!), presumably to allow the glass to clear the convertible top weatherstripping and then to make a tight seal on its way back up. Works perfectly.
Fun story about the Continental convertible drop glass, I still remember accompanying my dad on his annual new car introduction excursion when the ’61 Lincoln came out. I carefully opened the rear door on a convertible model in the showroom, fascinated with the center-opening door concept, and that glass dropped a couple of inches. I jumped a foot, thinking something had broken and I would be the culprit. Neat feature.
There’s an interesting connection to Volvo with the Facel-Vega. After the conundrum with the Facellia, Facel turned to other makers to source an engine, and finally they settled for Volvo. The Facellia was renamed the Facel III, and another 400 cars were made, fitted with the Volvo B18-engine, before the company closed for good.
But where it gets really interesting is where the companies cross bread. The story I heard is that a group of Volvo executives liked the idea of a Swedish Facel-Vega very much, and tried to sell the idea to the company board. One of them bought a Facel-Vega Facel II for his own money in secret, just to have the concept evaluated. Or if Volvo got them free in exchange for the engine deal. In any way, the concept grew, and a prototype was finished in 1966 as the P172. It would’ve been on the market in 67/68 or thereabouts, probably based on the then not even released Volvo 164, and with that cars 3-litre straight six B30-engine.
Considering how great it looked, I think the P172 is Volvos greatest missed opportunity. With that much class, it would’ve put the company in BMW-territory, as a contender to the E9 Coupes.
There are some interesting Volvo prototypes on this page, the P172 on the bottom of the page. Most prototypes are just styling excercises, to test different styling trends or possible ways to go. Most of them weren’t really serious, but some of them were more serious than others.
Fascinating. Yes, I’d almost forgotten about the B18 in those cars; they should have used it in the first place!
It looks like the red Facellia in the article’s picture has Volvo wheels too.
I don’t think so. They have the distinctive French-style bolt-on hub cap. Also, Volvo didn’t use this style wheel until 1970 or so; their earlier vented wheel looked a bit different. Coincidence.
Thanks for showing that, Ingvar. That would forever have changed people’s perception of Volvo – if they’d made it. What a missed opportunity.
+1 great page for prototypes and that coupe is way nice.
Superb find, Rich.
And the pictures do make the car justice. Jesus f***g christ and almighty god what those panels are perfect. And that piano black color is just so amazingly suited for the car. That is a rolling sculpture, it’s a rolling piece of perfect craftsmanship. They don’t make them like this anymore, and they almost didn’t even then either. That is just perfect.
+100 This car really slays me. Much more than the earlier ones too, for one reason or another. The FV/HK500 looked a bit too American and slightly chunky, especially from the rear and with that wrap-around windshield. The Facel II really nails it.
Looking at it again, even the wheel-well cutouts are beautiful, and the fact that they made them like that and got the car’s suspension beneath the car is amazing. It really is something…
This is a car that someone, somewhere in the world should have continued building. Maybe a Russian oligarch can commission one of Russia’s new coachbuilders, who seem to be able to custom-build almost anything when given an unlimited budget, to reproduce the Facel II body on a Mercedes or BMW chassis.
TVR didn’t have a continuation of building under a Russian owner.The old factory is now an ice skating rink,I was going to have a look at it recently when I was in Blackpool for the punk festival and air show but didn’t have time
Many people said the tail lights on Citroen C6 were similar to those on an American car,but I instantly thought Facel Vega.A British Leyland salesman I knew,studied mechanical engineering in Sydney a few years earlier and bought a used Facel Vega.He was a civilised Aussie larrikin and told me that when he was a student he would drive around the wealthy eastern suburbs until he spotted a mansion in party mode,drive up to the door in the Facel Vega and the doormen would usher him into the parties whilst his car was parked.He told me he ate and drink very well and met many women during his student F/V years.The auto featured here is IMO the best looking of all the models.
Great find! Like others here, I’ve read about these but never seen one.
In some ways this Facel reminds me of a modern Rolls Royce, in that it is a low volume hand built car with a mass produced (but premium) powertrain.
Actually, the twin-cam Pont-á-Mousson engine was good, but it featured the same problem as the ill-fated MG-A twin-cam engines: they revved to easily destroying themselves.
The Facellia has also been fitted with the Austin Healy 3 litre engine, which makes it an even rarer beast.
The European Twin- Mercedes style headlights were made by Marchal and were a real work of art ont he Facellia.
The dashboard was painted steel because Jean Daninos thought it would be safer in an accident when wood tends to splinter.
The idea behind the large Facel was simple, romantic but briljant : France desperately needed foreign currency for their balance and Daninos was given the licence by the French government to import the Chrysler powerplants.
The thing was : They’d use expensive Dollars to buy, but they’d make more then enough money by exporting Facel’s to the U.S.
And that thought was not stupid, I mean a car with a European style, body and glamour, a supercar in its day but with the running costs and maintenance bills of a Chrysler.
Even de Gaulle used the big 4 door Excellence as a Presidential carriage, until one of the doors refused to open “en plein public” (in public) The car was dismissed, and de Gaulle insisted on the make he’d been driving for all of his life : Citroën.
Ow, Pont-a-Mousson is a city in the North West of France, just passed it last week on my way up to the North
Road & Track in their test in 1961 described the engine as ” notable for low end power” and “high up in it’s speed range… it does not breath as easily as a Weber carbureted unit might”
It wasn’t a free-reving nature that killed the Facellia’s engines, it was lack of cooling for cylinder #3 and a paucity of camshaft bearings.
I actually went and looked at a black HK500 coupe that a fellow Mopar freak had for sale. It was a great-looking car…should have driven it, but I didn’t want to trouble him, after all I couldn’t possibly afford it.
I saw one in a repair shop in Sonoma in ’84, they told me Robin Williams owned it.
Wow Robin Williams,a man with taste and wit.I f you want to have a laugh watch youtube,Robin and British muso/comedian Bill Bailey singing together at a British Royal command performance.Charles and Camilla laugh a lot.
Looks cooooool and impressive. Especially the “Excellence”… Thanks for posting this article.
Incredible find. Thanks to the owner for sharing it with us.
Looks like it should be driven by a Bond Villain trying to push 007’s Aston Martin off a cliff. Very handsome and simultaneously intimidating.
That sent a shiver down my spine…..
For some years now I’ve been reading about a new Facel Vega. We’ll see. Here’s the source of the impression below, Facel Vega Concept on Facebook:
It’s always startling to see such a fine vehicle in the real world. My coolest sighting was a 300SL roadster, black on red with patina. This was about 2 years ago. The very unpretentious owner had bought it in the 1970s and was only too happy to talk to me about his baby. He told me he didn’t care what it was worth, he’d never sell it. What a cool guy. Drive them if you’ve got them! Incidentally, the French existentialist Albert Camus died in his HK500, they were not very crashworthy at all if you’ve seen pics of what was left.
It was actually his publisher who owned (and was driving) the Facel-Vega when they died. Albert Camus drove an old, black, 4-cyl Traction Avant and thought that big, powerful cars like the HK500 were “silly” – IMO, the only time he was off the mark philosophically!
Robert, Thank you for making the time to take shots of this car! It’s the most handsome of it’s kind I have ever seen. Had I been there the kind stranger would have most likely had to call the police and requested a restraining order against me:)
I was offered a red 1961 HK500 coupe in 1971 for $2,000. But I decided to go to college so the luscious exotic would have to wait…….never will happen now.
Where’d you spot this? I gave up trying to triangulate the Mobil stations near Ortho Mattress stores…I did see one in Sierra Madre not too long ago, but couldn’t get that close. Beautiful car, and kudos to the owner for daring to drive it around.
Excellent write up for the most beautiful French car of the 60s (tied with the Panhard 24).
Facel could have survived the Facellia disaster. They were exporting a lot of their cars and had kept a pretty good image. The French government bought a controlling interest in Facel through the SNECMA, a State-owned aircraft company, when Daninos began having troubles with the Facellia. The French minister of finance, V. Giscard d’Estaing, probably under orders from De Gaulle (who hated Facel and Simca due to their American and Italian connections), bluntly refused to extend Facel’s line of credit in September 1964. In October, Facel-Vega had a stand at the Salon de l’Auto 1965 but were barred from making any sales. After all, you have to get behind somebody before you can stab them in the back…
The car that started Daninos down the road to luxury cars was this Facel-bodied 1951 Bentley.
I have always liked the style of facel vegas and often think of the Swiss built Monteverdi sedan.The Monteverdi in the metal was a beautiful but slightly challenging automobile.
Facel-Vega, Monteverdi, Bristol, Jensen, Iso Rivolta, De Tomaso, Monica = European style & American muscle (usually Chrysler). A potent combo…
Tatra87—when I was 17yo working in new car sales for the local British Leyland dealer,the manager,a friend of my father and mother,travelled to England in 1973 and returned to the dealership with three used cars,a 1968 silver Bentley T1 sedan,1972 blue with black interior,immaculate Jensen Interceptor and a white with black leather and timber interior 1971 Rover P5B Coupe.I didn’t get to drive the beautiful Interceptor,which had the most comfortable seats of any cars apart from Peugeot and Citroen.I did get to drive the P5B Coupe and was a fan ever since.I recall the Monica,often described as the French Jaguar.The Euro/USA combination produced some very worthwhile cars but as a fan of the many stylish USA cars,I wonder why,to my eyes at least,what happened to American cars being mechanical and style leaders? Where are those beautiful modern day versions of Rivieras,Continentals,Chryslers,DeSotos etc? Is it just the quest for aerodynamic efficiency that makes so many makes generic or have designers become immune to creativity?
+1 A long time of Euro American exotics here,especially Facel Vega & Bristol.
Biiiiiiiig topic of discussion… Why did the big Three lose their place at the helm of car-making, engineering and design?
Well the 70s happened. Cars became too big, too bland, too thirsty and quality went down the toilet. Owning a Cadillac outside the US was a positive status symbol in the 60s, but became eccentric and then ridiculous in later decades. Even within the US, fewer and fewer people were willing to part with their money for cars that were becoming a joke.
I understand the love some people feel about 70s/80s/90s Broughams, especially on this forum, but those things are difficult to take seriously for a majority of people. Up to the early 60s, global car styling was aping US car styling. In the 70s, only the Japanese aped US car styling. But nobody copied American styling after about 1975, because virtually nobody outside the US bought American cars after about 1975. So style-wise, I would say the fall of Detroit’s leadership predates the aerodynamic era. By the time Fords went all jelly-bean, nobody cared any more.
(I would add that nearly ALL (American, European, Japanese, etc.) cars designed in the late 80s / early 90s are beyond bland
and should be set on fireand should, but for nostalgia, be consigned to the dustbin of automotive history.)
In the 70s, the big Detroit V8s also got their balls cut off by CAFE (or rather by Detroit’s reaction to CAFE) while Japanese and European engines got turbos, fuel injection, better mileage and better built. It’s no coincidence that these Euro-American marques all disappeared when they did, circa 1975 (except Bristol and TVR, because of the “special relationship”, I guess). And after the big oil shock in 1979, the idea of having 7-litre engines producing 150 hp was just ludicrous for pretty much everyone, except a few Arab sheiks and the Dukes of Hazzard.
So stye-wise and engine-wise, the US became an oddity about 40 years ago and its domestic industry has since remained aloof, lost in a continent of smooth, straight roads, cheap gasoline, vinyl roofs and opera lights. The rest of the world, with very few exceptions, is cramped, badly paved, energy-conscious and prefers restrained (Benz or Lexus-type) luxury if they can afford it.
I doubt we’ll see Detroit claw its way back to the top. The Big Three cartel has little relevance in the car world anymore. Pick-up trucks, SUVs and vans are their bread-and-butter and have been for some time. Maybe Buick will still exist as a Chinese brand in 20 years, but there won’t be any Rivieras in Shanghai. It’s just like BL/Rover — decades in decay followed by Asian zombies.
About 10 years ago there was this. The MG ZT260 with the 4.6 liter V8 from the Ford Mustang. IIRC there was also a Rover 75 equivalent.
Anyone else remember Gerald Harper driving a Monteverdi in Harper a British TV series?
Two cars come to mind when I think of Facels, the Graber bodied Alvis and even more so the Gordon Keeble; I think both are more attractive and boast better engineering but then I am an Englishman…
From what I’ve read Danios was no business man and whatever the reasons for the Facilia’s demise it was painfully underpowered.
The Volvo p1172 was indeed very interesting but that B30 engine, smooth as it is does not a sports car make. I think it was wise of Volvo to move on and do what they do best.
Incredible gas station find – it’s gonna be tough to top this one!!
Like Chris M., I saw one in a book as a kid and was both instantly lovestruck and mystified. Was it an American car? An Italian car? It wasn’t until much later that I learned of it’s true origin and it’s Chrysler heart, which made them seem even more interesting, and as the years have gone by they’ve only become more beautiful and perfect to me.
And they’re still mystifying, too. What is it that gives them their uniquely universal appeal? (have you ever heard of anyone who doesn’t like Facel-Vegas? Me neither). Obviously it’s a beautiful car, but there are lots of beautiful cars. The interior is really special and timeless, so that’s surely part of it… but I think, more importantly, Facel was far more successful than anyone else at marrying the ideals of the two continents in terms of style and the overall package. It isn’t just a European car with an American V8, it’s as if they’re saying “here’s what American cars would look like if we built them” – and that reflects a particularly French romanticism of America, something that probably doesn’t exist anymore. It’s like the automotive equivalent of the Statue of Liberty.
Such a shame that the company folded the way it did, but I can’t, and don’t want to, imagine what the ’70s version would have looked like.
I can never make up my mind as to which I like best, although if I had to pick I’d go with the Excellence for it’s audacity and unconventional shape. And black is a MUST! They look good in the other colors, but black on a big Facel is perfection!
Sweet car ! .
I was in Golden Cove last Sunday and two Facel Vegas pulled in , one DHC and one FHC with the Volvo engine .
Both stunners .
In the mid 1970’s a rich guy who used to hang ’round our Indie Garage and show off his eclectic oldies bought a ’56 (IIRC) Facel Vega Coupe with a bad engine , removed and _discarded_ the engine thinking any old Chrysler V-8 would pop right in .
Oops . I don’t think he ever got it running again .
Then there was a decent ‘ survivor ‘ DHC I used to see parked right near the old L.A. Jail in downtown on a regular basis , always with the top flopped .
I’d buy one of these if my wallet was a big as my wishful dreams are .
Has anyone here ever spotted a Dual Ghia? That’s a curbside classic I’d like to read!
I just had the pleasure of seeing one in a client’s collection. You can barely see part of it in the picture. It was parked next to the Facel Vega.
Does anyone know where I could buy weatherstripping for a 1961 Facel Vega? I’m searching for windshield, both doors and qt. windows. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
That HK500 is an impressive car. A muscular GT coupe that could whisk away two couples and their luggage. Why couldn’t America deliver something like this? The first series Buick Riviera kind of channels that vibe at a much lower price point. Unfortunately the American personal Luxury coupes that followed became too big and over styled. A ’69 Pontiac Grand Prix could be a contender except for the extended front end and poor rear seat accommodations. The long hood short deck formula gave us cars with exaggerated proportions. The ’75 Cadillac Seville even as a sedan, could be thought of as this type of road burner, at least in size and lean appearance. Except that the execution rendered it a car that was not engaging to the driver. Only adequate power. Flat bench type seats, no buckets or console, no instrumentation beyond a fuel gauge and a speedo, vinyl tops and wire spoke hubcaps. Can anyone name an American production car that even comes close to demonstrating the appeal of the Facel Vega?
My first boss had an FVII and he took me for a ride in it; he was amazed I knew what it was. Talk about power! And yet, stayed luxurious and quiet.
Two: I think after the Pont-a-Mousson engine catastrophe, the last Facelia’s were built with Volvo B18 engines in a last-ditch attempt to save the model and the company.
As a teenager in the ’50’s I always admired Facel Vega. Another cause of its demise was the French government who designated horsepower ratings of one to seven. T higher the number the higher the annual tax on the car. Here is a view of the rear seat of an Excellence.
Look what sold at auction today