Total Production: 428
The automotive pioneers, the French-built spectacular road and racing vehicles during the first half of the 20th century. Daninos chose to go ahead and develop a complete car in 1954 under the Facel Vega badge. Originally described as a 'classy Franco-American hybrid GT', the Facel Vega FV was introduced in 1954 and produced until 1959. Designed and built by Facel Metallon, the original styling was most likely influenced by Simca Sport and other vehicles built by Facel during the late 1940's and early 1950's. The Facel Vega was engineered in very limited-production and featured a large-tube fabricated chassis that carried independent front suspension along with a conventional live axle rear end. Separate bodyshells were also built by Facel.
Introduced on July 29, 1954, at the Facel plant, the prototype Facel Vega 'FV' was unveiled. Originally the car featured a standard curved wind-shield, but it eventually replaced by a wrap-around screen after the 11 vehicles were produced. The most current American luxury cars where Facel's closest competition, and because of this, Danino stayed motivated. In 1955, production was well underway, and no two FV's were alike due to the custom coachbuilding.
Considered to be very expensive, the FV's were also known for their speed thanks to Chrysler Hemi-head V8's which were supplied with increased displacement in both 1956 and in 1958. The top speed of the FV was 130 mph and even higher on later models with larger engines.
The Facel Vega FV was easily recognized with its unique front end with a vertical egg-crate grille surrounded by oval head-parking lamp clusters. It also was most often riding on wire wheels and where thin-pillar two-door coupes, though a few convertibles were also produced. The FV was unique with its individual French styling, its capable performance, reliable Detroit engines, and low-production appeal. The downside of the FV was its lack of parts availability, its drum brakes, and its production rate.
The FV was built on a tubular frame chassis and originally had a 4.5 liter DeSoto engine, but eventually was changed to Chrysler engines. The Facel Vega FV featured an overall length of 179.0 inches, a weight of 3,585 lbs, a wheelbase of 103.5 inches, and was sold at a price of $7,000. The majority of the vehicle produced with spacious 2+2 coupes, but also a few four-door saloons were also produced. Only 46 of the FV-1 were ever produced, 103 of the FV-2, and 205 of the FV-3.
The introduction of a larger version of the DeSota engine was one of the biggest major revisions of the FV. Its power now jumped to 203 bhp, and near the end of the 1955 model year, the 'FV2' was unveiled. This newest model used a 5.4 liter Chrysler engine that was capable of achieving 250 bhp. The following year a new third FV model was introduced, and it featured a much more powerful version of the Chrysler engine. Only 350 examples of the FV were produced between 1954 and 1957. The FV was eventually replaced by the all-new HK500.
Very well received by the press, the Facel Vega FV featured great performance along with exceptional luxury. At one time, the Vega FV was the only car built in France that had a displacement of over two liters. The Vega FV was also extremely expensive and one of the few vehicles in its class that used a third-party engine. This ended up being the reason why the FV was not the best seller though it perhaps could have been.By Jessica Donaldson