1964 FACEL VEGA
This is a once every decade opportunity to purchase one of 26 RHD cars in a fully restored condition. In October 2011 a LHD unrestored, average car sold at Artcurial Auctions in Paris for £175,000.
355 bhp, 383 cu. in. Chrysler V-8 engine, Chrysler three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, independent front suspension and solid axle with leaf springs in the rear, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,660 mm
Some of the most exciting and flamboyant sports cars in history were produced in Paris and its surrounding areas through the first half of the 20th century: Delahaye, Delage, Talbot Lago and Panhard to name a few luminaries. Unfortunately, performance and the French government’s extreme post-war taxation of higher horsepower vehicles did not mix. As a result, French performance automobiles were literally killed off by the mid-1950s, something Jean Daninos intended to change.
Daninos was an industrialist who employed 2,000 workers in his four FACEL factories and manufactured everything from kitchen sinks and office furniture to scooters and combustion chambers for deHavilland and Rolls-Royce jet engines. When Panhard cancelled manufacturing plans of their new model at Daninos’ Colombes plant, Jean saw his opportunity to build a great luxury performance vehicle that would once again bring worldwide prominence to a Paris-built car. Of course, due to French taxation he would have to manufacture his Facel cars mostly for export.
As a replacement for the stylish HK500, the Facel II was introduced at the Paris Salon of October 1961 and was the flagship model of the Facel Vega range. A foreign powerplant would best ensure the success of such an export venture, which led to Daninos selecting the technically superior Chrysler V-8 engine. The Facel II had excellent performance and was a capable high-speed tourer; the engine was rated by the factory at 355 horsepower and could sprint from 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 134 mph. The intoxicating blend of exquisite French styling and American power made the Facel II a desirable car that has always been appreciated by car collectors with a keen eye for unusual design. All told, only about 26 right-hand drive cars were sold, presumably due to the high purchase price of £5,570 in 1962, when a new Aston Martin DB4 was £3,967!
Intercontinental Cars, a subsidiary of HWM, imported this particular Facel II into the UK. The car was specified with an automatic gearbox and power steering and was originally finished in grey coachwork with red leather hide. It was first registered 20 March, 1964 and supplied through Lazenby Garages of Rothley in Leicestershire to Gee Advertising Ltd. with its original registration GEE 999.
In April 1965 the car was sold to Birds Swansea Ltd. on the registration number BB45 after having covered 20,000 miles. Well-known car collector George Milligan acquired it in August 1968 following a “wanted” advertisement he had placed in a motoring magazine. The car joined another Facel II in his stable and remained with him until 1981, whereupon it was sold to Hamish McAlpine who kept the car until the 1990s. Mr. McAlpine sold the car to French film producer Daniel Carrillo, a noted French car collector who kept it for over 10 years. I purchased the car in 2008 and entrusted it to UK restorer Alan Carrington, who embarked upon a full restoration with parts supplied by Hans Ruhe, a Facel Vega specialist in Holland.
The body was stripped to bare metal and restored with new metal where necessary. The car was painted in Gunmetal Grey metallic, and the chassis was detailed at the same time. The suspension was dismantled and restored with new shock absorbers all around and new Coopercraft brakes. A full re-trim of the interior was carried out, the seats were re-trimmed in red leather, a red cloth headlining was fabricated, and every rubber seal was replaced with a new item. The dashboard, painted metal, was restored correctly, as was the wooden rim steering wheel. The power steering system was rebuilt, and five new stainless steel wire wheels and correct Dunlop tyres were also fitted.
A right-hand drive Facel II is rarely offered on the market. With only 23 examples known to exist, from the original 26 made, this may very well be the only opportunity for many years to come.
Located in England....+44 (0) 1622 814 140
photo and text credit: © 2011 Godin Banks