Between 1958 and 1961, Facel Vega, a prestigious French brand created by Jean Daninos, brings grace to its Excellence Sedan but mostly to the great coupé HK 500. After the disappearance of prestigious brands like Delahaye or Bugatti, Facel Vega turned into the only French artisan on the market and was determined to achieve the same reputation as Rolls-Royce in France. Despite its undeniable success, the HK 500 began to grow old, mainly from the stylistic viewpoint, while Facellia came across a few difficulties. Jean Daninos therefore decided to create a new model, Facel Véga Facel II replacing the HK 500 and borrowing the Facellia style.
After 490 exemplary products, the HK 500 was forced to bow out. Its style has really put down roots during the 50’s, but didn’t suit a clientele who yearned for a more fluid and aerial shape. The little Facellia launched in 1960, in a certain way, made it look older way too early and one had to unify the range, stylistically speaking. Facell II was therefore inspired by its little sister, much more elongated and extremely elegant. During this occasion, she inaugurated the Megalux headlights created for her by Marchal (and Facellia then Facel 3 and 6 recovered in turn).
With Facel II, Daninos had an ambition: to create the fastest GT in the world. Incorporating the V8 Chrysler Typhoon TY8 383 engine (6.3 liters) which already equipped the HK 500 developing 390 horsepower in manual transmission and 355 in automatic transmission, Facel II announced between 225 km/h (in auto) and 240 km/h (in manual): significant figures for a car weighing 1 660 kg. To halt this mass, the Facel is equipped with 4 Dunlop disks. One can also order air conditioning as an option (essential for the American market, Facel Vega was distributed by the famous importer, Hoffman) but also a power steering.
Presented in October 1961, Facel II garnered praise immediately. Producing such a car, endowed with great luxury, not to mention extremely efficient, has a price: Facel II is therefore incredibly expensive. Of course, she managed to convince the great ones of this world like the Shah of Iran, Grace Kelly, Christian Dior, Norodom Sihanouk, Hassan II, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and even Ringo Starr, the drummer of the Beatles. However, this wasn’t enough to ensure a significant production volume and Facel II never managed to achieve the turnover like its predecessor, HK 500, did.
With 184 models produced until 1964, the Facel II remains a rare product. Some versions were even equipped with a V8 evolution, 6.8 liters (413 ci) and 400 horsepower, even more exclusive. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t have a progeny and was the last prestigious product. Indeed, Facel Vega was entangled in major financial issues, due to low reliability of the Pont à Mousson engine of Facellia (and the authorities weren’t much help, it is true), was out of business. From then on, nobody dared to relaunch such a project again, perhaps besides Jean Tastevin and the ephemeral Monica.
Today, buying a Facel Vega Facel II remains a pricey gift. Its rarity, luxury and prestigious blazon of course make an impact on the price. The price (LVA 2018) is 240 00 euros, but it’s possible that one has to shell out even more, to possess such a dream, not to mention the models which belonged to celebrities: the (superb) one of Ringo Starr was sold at 385 208 euros (all charges included) in 2013, during a sale organized by Bonhams.
For the less fortunate ones, who still wish to drive a Facel Vega, you’ll need to turn towards “little” Facellia and Facel 3 models, with 4 cylinders. Last but not least, you should know that there are a few models manufactured by Facel, for other brands.