Sold for $52,800 at 2013 Gooding and Company - The Amelia Island Auction.
Chassis #: HK J2-0426
Engine # TY41834
In the intervening years between the First and Second World Wars the influence of aviation and aerodynamics in particular was really beginning to have a noted affect on automobile design. Curved lines and lower profiles would come to be adopted by nearly every manufacturer. However, such influence would seem to stay on the outside of the car, that is, until the coming of Facel Vega.
It was only right that aviation and aerodynamics would play a part in Facel Vega's designs, inside and out, as the company would get its start in 1939 specializing creating components for both the aviation and the automobile industries. Not long after opening Facel would open a second plant devoted almost wholly to the manufacture of aircraft products. And so, before Germany would come sweeping through the French countryside, Facel would be producing as much as 50% for France's defense effort.
German occupation would cause Facel to switch its focus entirely to trucks and lorries, but, by 1945, the whole of the company had recovered and resumed its original production. A part of the company's efforts following the end of the Second World War was in the manufacture of automobile bodies for various manufacturers. Still, a lot of aviation-focused production would go on, including part for the new jet engines.
In the early post-war years Facel would be building bodies for such companies as Panhard, Delahaye and Simca. The company would also be involved with the French Ford company producing bodies for its Comete. In the case of the Comete, Facel would be practically be the manufacturer of the whole car, and this would lead Jean Daninos to make the leap into being an automobile manufacturer.
The Nazi occupation would actually put Facel in an advantageous position at the conclusion of the war. Whereas other manufacturers were raised to the ground or severely hindered in their abilities to resume production following the war, Facel would emerge from the war relatively unscathed and capable of stepping up into a manufacturing role of automobiles relatively easily.
Facel would get into automobile production when the French ultra-luxury industry had really nobody to lead it. Therefore, Daninos would be determined to do more than just build automobile bodies. Facel would begin work on its own creation. Designed by Jacques Brasseur, Facel would surprise the automotive world when it debuted its first car at the 1954 Paris Auto.
That first car would be called the Vega and would be advertised as 'For the Few Who Own the Finest'. And, in many respects the slogan would be correct. The body design would be elegant and simplistic. Performance would come via a Chrysler V-8 engine that helped the car to reach speeds near of 120 mph. One interesting design feature of the Vega would be the use of a pillar-less hardtop. But, one of the most interesting features of the car would be its interior.
This is where the aviation influence would come to the fore. Many automotive companies made use of the interior space of the car to make comfortable and luxurious interiors. Facel would add a bit of adventure to the interior of its cars by being the first to make use of the space between the front two seats and the area on top of the transmission. This wrap-around dashboard would look as if right out of a modern fighter aircraft and would give the car a bit of a sporty feel. Unfortunately, at over 3,000 pounds, this is as sporty as the car would get.
By 1956, Facel would introduce its Facel Vega FVS. While the bodies and the interiors would continually evolve, the greatest change to the FVS would be the size of the engine and the performance it put out. The FVS would have a 5.4-liter Chrysler engine capable of producing 255 hp.
Facel wasn't done, not just yet. In 1959, Facel would introduce its Facel Vega HK500. This model was essentially just an evolved version of the FVS, but what an evolution it would be. Initially, the HK500 would come with a 335 hp 5.8-liter V-8. This would be the same engine as the last evolution of the FVS. However, the HK500 would soon receive a whopping 6.3-liter Chrysler V-8 capable of pumping out 360 bhp and pushing the heavy HK500 up to a top speed of nearly 150 mph. The car, despite its weight, could also go from zero to 60 in just 8.5 seconds. Due to the weight of the car and the power capable of being produced Facel needed the best and most effective way to stop the car. Therefore, disc brakes would be offered as an option.
In 1959 Facel would produce just 190 of the HK500s. One of those, chassis J2-0426, would be brought to the United States soon after completion. Max Hoffman, a US importer, would have the car shipped to the United States in an effort to add to collection of European marques. Hoffman's aim was to bring foreign cars to the United States and he would do just that.
At the time the car arrived there was little that could compete with it when it came to top end performance. In fact, only a Ferrari was faster. Combined with the famed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic transmission, the Facel would not sit around very long before it would find itself with its first owner.
Such would be the quality of the car and the love affair it would have with its owners that this particular chassis would have only two previous owners. The first owner would store the car away for 35 years keeping it well preserved. Its latest owner would come to take possession of the car in 2007.
Because the car has only had two owners it remains highly original inside and out and has undergone just some minor improvements and refurbishments over the course of its lifetime. Completed in a refurbished striking red Connolly leather, the interior of the car has only gone through some minor refurbishments to the aircraft-style dash. One of the interesting and intriguing features of the interior would have to be the three-speed push-button transmission.
The wrap-around windscreen provides occupants with an incredible view while the sunburst-pastel yellow finish of the exterior is certain to make the car very visible from the outside as well.
This particular Facel Vega HK500 is to be a part of Gooding & Company's event held in Amelia Island in March of 2013 and boasts of under 45,000 miles. Nominated for the 2013 Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance, it is clear this Facel Vega HK500 would have to be regarded as one of the finest restored Facel Vegas.
Heading to auction, the 1959 Facel Vega HK500, chassis number HKJ2-0426, would receive estimates ranging between $180,000 and $220,000. In fact, when the gavel fell, the car would sell for the price of $181,500.Sources:
'Lot No. 10: 1959 Facel Vega HK500', (http://www.goodingco.com/car/1959-facel-vega-hk-500). Gooding & Company. http://www.goodingco.com/car/1959-facel-vega-hk-500. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
'Facel-Vega', (http://www.chrysler300country.com/facel.htm). Facel-Vega. http://www.chrysler300country.com/facel.htm. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
'Facel Vega: Historical Background', (http://www.facel-vega.com/fv-bckgrnd.pdf). Facel-Vega. http://www.facel-vega.com/fv-bckgrnd.pdf. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Facel', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 March 2013, 01:33 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Facel&oldid=541978160 accessed 12 March 2013 By Jeremy McMullen