FACEL VEGA FACEL II
Rolls-Royce comforts; super sports-car urge: American reliability and driving ease. The Facel Vega Facel IT offered a combination of qualities you couldn’t buy anywhere else in the early 1960s, though there were plenty of imitators on the scene by the time Facel – Forges el Ateliers de Construction d’F.ure et Loire, of Paris — closed its doors in 1964. This, perhaps, was at the core of the Facel Vega’s unique appeal. To drive a Facel. unlike an Aston Marlin or a Ferrari, you didn’t need racing-driver skill or a mechanic in the boot.
You would, nevertheless, have to put uniquely French elegance at the top of ils list of attributes. As a pure piece of automotive artistry in the Pininfarina mould, the Facel II might never make the Museum of Modern Art; but as a stylishly charismatic period piece, there is nothing to touch it. This was a car with glamour by the truckload, true gravitas of a calibre that no mere hybrid for the big Facels were unashamed mongrels with their Chrysler V-eight engines – has since achieved. Celebrities lined up to buy them in the early 60s, while race-owners like Stirling Moss and Rob Walker gave the marque the stamp of approval. As you would expect, it was an expensive car, costing the equivalent of two E-Type Jaguars and a Lotus Elan.
The shape suggested weight and strength. The bold, sculptured rear flanks – forming clipped, tense tail fins – looked hewn from solid rock; the squat, square roof was taut and spare. Cast in the mould of France’s pre- Seeond World War Grand RoiUierx, the Facel IT, like the HK500 before it, was as stunningly quick as these rocket ship looks promised. The automatic version could lop 130mph (209kph). The rare manual was good for 140mph (225kph). This four-speed manual Pont a’ Mousson box, with a twin-carburettor 390bhp V- eight from the Chrysler 300, was a no- cost option. With the Torqueflite came the slightly less powerful 355bhp (gross) single-carburettor version of the 6.3- litre Chrysler engine. ‘Hie simplistic suspension was unchanged from the HK: coils and wishbones at the front – with anti-roll bar – and beefy half- el) iptics on the live rear axle. To soften the car’s thumpy ride, importers HWM would fit Armstrong selecta-ride rear dampers as an option. Dunlop discs were used all round. Power steering, leather seats and electric windows were standard.
Like the HK500, the Facel 11 did not escape the tyranny of excess weight. Even among contemporary big CTs it was a heavy car at 37-cwt (1880kg) dry, actually nearer two tons with four passengers and its 22-gallon (100-lilre) fuel tank lopped-up. A total 182 Facel 11s were built. The Facel Register shows the survival rate in Britain is good: 15 or 16 survive out of 23 right-hand-drive cars sold.