1955 Facel Vega FV1
Sold for $88,000 at 2007 Bonhams, An Important Sale of Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia.Sold for $137,500 at 2010 Gooding and Company - Scottsdale Auction.Sold for $203,500 at 2014 Gooding & Company - The Scottsdale Auction. Hardtop Coupé
Chassis #: FV1 55-050
Engine #: S2 1-28146
During its brief life in the automotive production business, the French firm of Facel produced around 2,900 cars. There were hand-built, exclusive, stylish, fast, and luxurious. Their high price tag made them affordable only to the wealthy or those of considerable means.
The name 'Vega' was taken from the brightest star in the Lyra constellation. The cars were built in coupe configuration with the bodywork welded to a tubular-steel chassis. Power came from Detroit, more specifically - from Chrysler, with their 4.5-liter V8 engine that produces 180 horsepower. There were two gearbox options, a push-button automatic or manual.
The FV was later joined by the FV1, a new and improved version introduced in March of 1955. It had a longer wheelbase which gave more room to the rear passengers. The engine was improved, now displacing 4.8-liters and producing 200 horsepower. A few cabriolet versions were built, but most were fixed-head coupes. A very limited-edition four-door saloon, called the Excellence, was also available. This rode on an extended wheelbase. The FV evolved into the HK500 and Facel II. All were powered by Chrysler engines.
This FV-1 is one of only three examples sold new to the United States. It left the factory finished in a metallic silver gray with a black roof, and included the options of a radio, twin antennas, and automatic transmission. The automatic transmission was an important item, as prior to this, all Facel Vegas had featured the four-speed manual Pont-a-Mousson gearbox. This was one of the first three Facels fitted with Chrysler's two-speed automatic transmission.
This example is finished in black over white with blue-piped stone upholstery. In 2007 it was brought to the Bonhams Auction, An Important Sale of Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia
, held at the Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club in Carmel, California. The lot was sold for $88,000 plus premiums and taxes.
This car was originally delivered to the United States on July 12, 1955. The original owner was a Mr. Milestone - almost certainly Lewis Milestone, the Academy Award-winning director. Best remembered for his films All Quiet on the Western Front, Two Arabian Nights and Ocean's Eleven, Mr. Milestone spent much of the 1950s in Hollywood, working on the small screen.
In the 1990s, this car was in the care of a Mr. B. Rutan. Years later, it came into the possession of an individual who shows many auctions on the lawn at Pebble Beach. Under this ownership, it is thought that this car participated on the California Mille.
In total, there were fewer than 100 of the FV1 models produced.
In 2010, this car was offered for sale at Gooding & Company's Scottsdale Auction in Arizona. The car was estimated to sell for $175,000-$225,000. The lot was sold for the sum of #137,500, inclusive of buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2014
In the mid-1950's the French metal produced Facel, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure et Loire, entered the car manufacturing industry. Created by industrialist Jean Daninos, they had achieved success in building complete body-shells for manufacturers such as Simca and Panhard.
In 1954 Facel introduced the Vega, a luxury Grand Tourer with elegant design and powered by an American power-plant. Most of the vehicles were intended for export due to taxation existing in France. Vehicles were taxed based on the amount of horsepower they produced. A Chrysler/DeSoto V8 engine with various displacements was used to power the Facels.
In 1958 the car received a face-life and re-engineering and was transformed into the HK500. The Vega II followed soon after bringing with it a 383 cubic inch Chrysler V8. During this time, it was regarded as the world's fastest sedan.
The 383 cubic-inch Chrysler V8 power plant was capable of producing 360 horsepower. The Facels could race from zero to sixty in 8 seconds and achieve a top speed of 140 mph. Finned alloy drums were used until 1960 when they were replaced by disc brakes.
The HK-500 carried a price tag of $9,795 meaning only the well-to-do were capable of affording one of these masterpieces. From 1958 through 1961, only 458 HK500's were produced ensuring the vehicles exclusivity in modern times.
Brasseur and Danios were responsible for creating the styling of the vehicles body. The chassis was the result of Lance Macklin of HWM. The interior was elaborate, elegant, and trimmed in wood and leather. The instrument panel was exquisite, inspired by Duesenberg airplane instrument panels.
A smaller edition, the Facellia, was introduced in the early 60's featuring a Facel derived twin-cam engine. The combination, coupled with poor reliability, did not work and Facel went out of business.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2007
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 it 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