1961 Facel Vega HK 500
Year of manufacture1961
Chassis numberHK1 BG5
1961 Facel Vega HK500 Coupé
Chassis no. HK1 BG5
Engine no. TY7-29468
In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand built, they were, of course, necessarily very expensive the Facel II was priced in Rolls-Royce territory and were bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. The roll call of owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers: Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Ringo Starr, Joan Fontaine and Ava Gardner being counted among the latter. Confirming that there was high-performance substance behind Facel's unquestionable style, they were owned and driven by great motor racing figures such as Sir Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Rob Walker.
Founded by Jean Daninos in 1939, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure-et-Loir (FACEL) specialised in the construction of aircraft components and metal furniture. After the war the company engaged in the supply of car bodies to Panhard, Simca and Ford France, before branching out into automobile manufacture in its own right with the launch of the Vega at the 1954 Paris Salon. Government legislation had effectively killed off France's few surviving luxury car manufacturers after WW2, but that did not deter Jean Daninos in his bold attempt to revive what had once been a great French motoring tradition. A luxurious Grand Routier, the Vega took its name from the brightest star in the Lyra constellation and featured supremely elegant coupé bodywork welded to a tubular-steel chassis. There being no suitable French-built power unit, Daninos turned to the USA for the Vega's, that chosen initially being Chrysler's 4.5-litre, 180bhp V8, while there was a choice of push-button automatic or manual transmission.
Improvements to the first FV model were not long in coming, the FV1, introduced in March 1955, featuring a lengthened wheelbase for increased rear seat room and a 4.8-litre, 200bhp Chrysler V8. A few FV1 cabriolets were built, but Daninos was not keen on soft-tops and production concentrated on fixed-head coupés, although there was also the Excellence, a limited-edition four-door saloon on an extended wheelbase.
An improved model, the HK500, appeared in 1957. Maximum power was now around 360bhp courtesy of the latest, 5.9-litre (later 6.3-litre) version of Chrysler's 'Hemi' V8 and top speed rose to around 140mph, making the HK500 one of the fastest cars of its era. Power steering became an option and Dunlop disc brakes were adopted as standard equipment in 1960. Capable of effortless and virtually silent 120mph cruising, the HK500 possessed, according to The Motor magazine, 'a brilliant combination of good comfort and quite exceptional roadholding.' HK 500 production amounted to just 500-or-so units between 1958 and 1961 and today this rare Franco-American Grande Routière is highly sought after.
An automatic transmission model, chassis number 'HK1 BG5' was manufactured in February 1960 but was not delivered (via Facel's USA agent) to its first owner until 1962, which is when it was first registered. These details are recorded in the accompanying letter from Amicale Facel Vega, Holland, signed by Dr Hans G Ruhé of the Facel Vega Register and dated 24th November 2001, which also states that the car was then 'in need of full restoration'. The car was delivered with 6.3-litre engine and three-speed automatic transmission and was equipped with disc brakes all round.
Treated to an exceptionally comprehensive restoration between 2010 and 2014, the Facel comes with an illustrated Taxatierapport (valuation report) compiled by Oldtimertaxatie and dated 23rd July 2016, which confirms its excellent condition. Indeed, we are advised by the vendor that the car is 'like new' throughout.
Representing a rare opportunity to acquire a well restored example of this supremely stylish Franco-American Grande Routière, this beautiful and exclusive HK500 is offered with customs documents; assorted Polish paperwork; and a copy of its old California Ownership Certificate (1986).