Project Facel Vega

A barnfind 1963 Facel Vega Facel II (below) fetched £141,000 at Historics Auctioneers’ Ascot sale. One of only 26 right-hand-drive examples, the rarity needs a full restoration but shows just 50,000 miles on the clock. First sold by Roy Salvadori, it was found, V8 intact, after 25 years missing.

The sale nestled within its estimate on 2 March when many exceeded, including a 1993 Porsche 964 turbo that sold for £87,360 (est £5868,000). A 1971 VW Beetle appeared a bargain at £5880 (£810,000).

1963 Facel Vega II
1963 Facel Vega II 

Built by one of France’s most famous manufacturers of high-speed grand tourers, the Facel II continued the marque’s tradition of American performance coupled with French styling. Powered by a 355bhp, Chrysler V8, the four seater Facel II could sprint from 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds and achieve a top speed of 134mph while carrying its passengers in total luxury. This intoxicating experience made the Facel II one of the most desirable cars of early 1960’s society. Approximately 180 of the Vega II were manufactured between 1962 and 1964. In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel produced around 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand-built, they were, of course, necessarily very expensive – the Vega II was priced in Rolls-Royce territory – and were bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. 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 Motor Show. Government legislation had effectively killed off France’s few surviving luxury car manufacturers after the Second World War but that did not deter Jean Daninos in his bold attempt to revive what had once been a great French motoring tradition. A luxurious Grande Routière, the Vega featured supremely elegant coupé bodywork welded to a tubular-steel chassis. The roll call of esteemed owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers such as: Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner and Ringo Starr as well as great motor racing figures such as Sir Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Rob Walker.

Originally registered on 16th April, 1963, this car was on the Facel stand for the London Motor Show. An interesting, yet slightly chequered history, accompanies this Vega. We do know this vehicle was for sale in Roy Salvadori’s showroom on the A3 and appears to have been sold and financed by Southern Organs who were part of a relatively large Hire Purchase scam. In 1972, the car was owned by a Jon Wilson who was detained in H.M. Prison in Cardiff. A letter in the file written by Mr. Wilson authorises a Mr. Angelo Papacosta to sell the car on his behalf. Little is known of the cars whereabouts after then, however we are aware the car spent some 25 years in a barn where she has fairly recently been recovered from.

In need of total restoration, this Facel Vega II is one of only 26 righthand drive examples manufactured. It has a 383ci Chrysler engine mated to a TorqueFlite automatic transmission and is currently finished in red with red leather trim although it is thought the original factory exterior colour was grey. Fitted with power steering and rare chromed disc wheels, the interior of this handsome Facel is an area of beauty, the magnificent dashboard area is akin to a piece of furniture. The seats appear to be original and with the correct treatment will have many miles left in them. 
These are very stylish cars and are relatively simple mechanically. With restored examples changing hands in excess of £300,000, this Facel Vega II offers excellent value given the rarity and relatively inexpensive cost of restoration.

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