Friday, July 19, 2013

Musclecar Monday – Bastille Day Edition - Facel Vega


FACEL (Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure-et-Loir) was initially a metal-stamping company but decided to expand into car manufacturing in the early 1950s. Facel entered the automobile business as a supplier of special bodies for Panhard, Delahaye and Simca.

Vegas appeared in 1954 using Chrysler V8 engines, at first a 4.5-litre (275 cu in) DeSoto Hemi engine; the overall engineering was straightforward, with a tubular chassis, double wishbone suspension at the front and a solid driven axle at the back, as in standard American practice. They were also as heavy as American cars, at about 1,800 kg (3,968 lb). Performance was brisk, with an approx 190 km/h (118 mph) top speed and 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under ten seconds.

1959 models had even bigger engines, a 5.8-litre and later a 383 cubic inch Chrysler V8, and were quite a bit faster despite their extra weight. The final evolution of the V8 models came in 1962 with the Facel II, which was lighter, with sleeker, more modern lines, and substantially faster.
Facel Vega owners included Pablo Picasso, Ava Gardner, Christian Dior, Joan Collins, Ringo Starr, Max Factor Jr, Joan Fontaine, Stirling Moss, Tony Curtis, Saudi princes, Dean Martin, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Louis Malle, The President of Mexico, François Truffaut, Robert Wagner, Anthony Quinn, King Hassan ll of Morocco, Debbie Reynolds, The Shah of Iran, Frank Sinatra, and French Embassies around the world. Race-car driver Stirling Moss would drive his HK500 from event to event rather than fly.
Facel left the car market completely in 1964 when the French government scuttled the endeavour.