A right hand drive Facel II for sale in Paris.

Facel-Vega was the last French Sports & Luxury car manufacturer in History, celebrated as the challenger of no less than Maserati, Ferrari and Aston Martin.

Successor of the mythical Bentley Continental R for luxury, speed and prestige, the Facel Vega HK2 was the epitome of wealth, elegance and power… Probably the most exclusive and costly Gran Tourismo in the sixties, it was the automobile of the happy few.

With over 250 km/h and a timeless, breathtaking beauty, the Facel II was the automobile of the elite : Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant, the Shah of Iran, the King of Morocco, Prince Saoud of Arabia, Prince Charles of Belgium, the President of Mexico, Joan Collins, Tony Curtis, Anthony Quinn, Ringo Starr, Ava Gardner all drove Facel Vegas.

Comparable to the contemporary Ferrari 500 Superfast, Aston Martin DB5, or Maserati 5000 GT for fascinating beauty, speed and prestige, the HK2 is almost impossible to find in Right-Hand drives.

This example may be the most perfect in the world, after a complete restoration by prestigious Carrosserie Lecoq (Paris).

FACEL_VEGA_HK2_1960_3-4_front

A right hand drive Facel II for sale in Paris. The sales commentary with the car;

The engine is the powerful 6,3 litre Chrysler mated with the lighter Aluminium 3-gear automatic gearbox. This fine automobile is fitted with the indispensable power steering option. Thanks to the enormous torque and power of the engine, driving is easy and relaxed with the automatic gearbox. In spite of the complete restoration, mileage shown on the odometer has been kept at 91.000 miles, a probably correct figure, which is part of the History of the car. Of course, when you admire this automobile, when you open the door, sit inside and start the engine, it looks and sounds new.

The wheels are locked with race-style central hubs & butterfly nuts.
Inside the cockpit, the impressive panel of Jaeger instruments gives an aircraft-like feeling while you cruise at high speed, sitting low and close to the road, which provides an extraordinary pleasure…

Some useful details have been taken care of : for example, an additional electric fuel pump triggered by a hidden switch allows to fill the carburettor before launching the starter – as in a racing car ; this smart feature saves battery power since it is used only when the engine is ready to start.
Otherwise, the car is absolutely authentic and looks like a new one : it brings you back to the glorious sixties when people of taste and wealth could take possession of this ultimate luxury Coupé, the best that money could buy.

This fine automobile has a very interesting history, most of which was spent in England, with the same registration number. First registered on January 1st 1960, it kept the same registration number until it left England. The first owner was Mr Jack Bowthorpe, founder of an electronics Company, Bowthorpe Holdings, now Spirent, quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

A few years after, this HK 2 belonged to a most controversial personnality, a Mr. Anton Von Kassel, who had a much publicised affair with Alexandra (Sasha) Bruce, daughter of a former UK American Ambassador.

One of the famous owners was Brititsh race driver Ron Fry, winner of several important races, with a Ford GT40 and a Ferrari 275 LM.

The car then remained in England until the mid-eighties when it was bought by a French businessman. In the last couple of years, an ambitious and comprehensive restoration program was entrusted to Carrosserie Lecoq, arguably the best specialist for Classic Cars “concours” restoration. Every time Lecoq completely restores a fine automobile to its original glory, a prestigious brass plate – with individual number – is fitted in the engine bay, as a signature of a famous Artist.

A true sculptural master piece, this Facel HK2 is today among the best investments for those looking for a Classic Automobile icon. Its market value is on the rise, based on rarity, prestige and beauty : a Work of Art.

The Story of Facellia Chassi No: FAD 144

In the fifties and sixties the de Havilland aero factory car park would have done credit to any vintage or classic show of today. Among the humdrum were Morris Oxfords, Hillmans and Triumph Heralds, not to mention everything from Fiat to Frazer Nash. .These machines were not however the pampered collectibles they were to become, but our daily transport, then of little financial value but greatly appreciated by their enthusiastic owners.
Into this motley gathering there came one day a jewel, in the shape of a dark blue Facellia owned by one of our more affluent colleagues, Iam Brocklebank. The details escape me but another chum was so inspired that he determined to acquire a similar car, and turned up forthwith in 1967 in the seat of FAD 144. It was alleged to have been owned by one Brian Rix, star of stage screen and trouserless farce at that time. In response to my enquiries he confirmed that he and his wife had both owned Facels, his and hers on personal number plates. The specification fitted and he was confident that FAD 144 was the car that he had owned. I spent some time driving and being driven in both cars, one immaculate and the other tired but happy, and found it to be an agreeable experience.

Time passed and FAD 144 with its second owner left our employ and disappeared – likewise the shiny one, but in a different direction. Around 1972/73, whilst wandering around leafy parts of Hertfordshire, I stumbled upon some derelict farm buildings, the gloom in which failed to conceal the outline of a white Facellia. Further probing revealed my old friend FAD 144 and more investigation turned up a disenchanted farmer who was pining for his unpaid rent and was about to dump the car. (Sounds like the infamous Bouquillon, owner and destroyer of so many Facels – Ed).

In the halcyon days before data protection I was able to trace the whereabouts of the owner to Saudi Arabia, a popular venue for ex-de Havilland employees at that time and renewed our acquaintance by sundry calls and letters. We did a deal whereby I paid the outstanding rent, plus some supplementary beer money, receiving it and I the relevant documents in return. The naïve intention was to preserve the car for eventual restoration and use – this was 1973 but this ambition did not come to fruition until 2010. (Not unusual amongst Facel owners! – Ed)

The car was fundamentally sound and was laid up because the previous owner somehow broke a camshaft bearing carrier. I have the receipt from H.W.M. (the importers for Facel S.A. for the UK) for the replacement part for £6.50, which subsequently broke as well, whereupon he lost interest in the car.

Having had less than ten years use and 38,000 recorded miles, it is by no means worn out, just a bit frayed around the edges, and the subsequent forty years suspended animation awaiting its turn for restoration have done it no harm at all.
(This is most unusual, unless the car was in an oxygen free cocoon; the rust bug is normally hard at work on these occasions, and often results in a heap of brown powder and not much else after such a long time – Ed)

It was to have been a post-retirement project when I retired in 1993, but inevitably succumbed to more pressing tasks until now – a process known as ‘slippage’. At my advanced age I was reluctant to dismantle a complete and original car only to be incapacitated, or drop dead, before completion, with consequent complications or loss of the car. It then occurred to me that, since I derive more pleasure from the restoration than ultimate use of the end product (a conclusion arrived at over many projects) a little self-indulgence was in order. Thus reassured I dismissed the death event as someone else’s problem and decided to proceed regardless. After further thought I compromised with a solution acceptable, hopefully, to anyone interested or posthumously concerned. Rather than stripping the car to a shell and embarking on major bodywork first, a process which created the illusion of imminent completion, but which, in reality, leaves an accumulation of tedious detail still to be resolved, I started the other way round.

As each component is removed I comprehensively restore it and then store it while maintaining a log of work done and relevant information regarding replacement.

This seems to be working well and the storage cupboards are filling with shiny operational components. Over the winter I hope to prepare the shell for bead-blasting so that I can enjoy the bodywork renovation and preliminary painting next season. It is basically sound and is not particularly daunting and, if inclined toward a bout of depression, I can always gloat over the finished parts.
As the foregoing implies I am fairly self-sufficient so only minimal outside special involvement will be required. The intention is to meticulously maintain the originality, warts and all, so no ‘improvements’ or modifications to spoil the authenticity. Having said that, if time allows after completion I will construct a ‘mod-kit’ for the engine, a decent manifold and carburetion for the stores.
The camshaft bearing is still missing but unless I fall over one in my travels, I will make a new one. Everything else is there and restorable. Whilst partially dismantling the car I removed the hardtop and with some trepidation the hood, which has remained unseen for forty years. To my amazement when raise it was as good as new and fitted perfectly. The spare wheel is unused and the road wheels are still shod with the original French Michelin X, which seems to verify the mileage.

Restoring each component reveals excellent detail workmanship, especially stainless steel parts, of a standard which goes some way to justifying the original new price of the car – considered excessive at he time. Each handmade part is inscribed or punch marked with the number 342, perhaps a serial number for the car (the chassis number – Ed).

I write this in the [pious hope, that whatever transpires, the car’s history and whereabouts will be known to the Club or any interested parties such as our reverend historian, executors, bailiffs et al.
Thank you for all you do on our behalf. As a ‘passive’ member the magazine provides us with an insight into the F.V. culture!

Facel news from Bob

By keeping an eye open on the auction houses, we’re hoping to let you know about every Facel Vega that comes up for sale – at least in right hand drive form or in the UK.

The first of these is this HK500 which is being offered for sale by RM Auctions in London on September 8 (see http://www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1068688)

As the blurb explains, this is HK BC2 which was delivered new in December 1959 to Sir Christopher Soames, the son-in-law of Sir Winston Churchill and one time UK Ambassador to Paris. It was originally deep green with beige interior, wire wheels with disc brakes, about the 48th to go through HWM. It has spent much of its life in the USA.

Christopher Soames, as he preferred to be called, was born in 1920 to a brewing family which had married into the landed gentry. He served as the Assistant Military Attaché in Paris during World War II, and after the war, he entered politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Bedford. He was Under-Secretary of State for Air from 1955 to 1957 in the Anthony Eden government, and under Harold Macmillan, he was the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty from 1957 to 1958. In the 1955 Birthday Honours, he was invested as Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He married Mary Churchill, the youngest daughter of Winston and Clementine Hozier Churchill, in 1947, and he was made a life peer in 1978.

Baron Soames purchased this HK500 while serving as Harold MacMillan’s Secretary of State for War. It is right-hand-drive and features the twin-carburettor, 6.2-litre engine and a Pont-a-Mousson four-speed manual gearbox, although it was automatic at one stage of its life. It is now equipped with power windows, windscreen washers, power steering, European-style headlamps (it spent much of its life in the USA), and a Motorola solid state radio, and it has a set of new Borrani centre-lock wire wheels with three-ear Facel Vega knock-ons.

Soames’ ownership is confirmed by records of the British, French, and Dutch Facel clubs. He apparently sold the car to the son of another Member of Parliament, who in turn sold it to Mrs Coralie Leighty, of Los Angeles, California, in the late 1970s. She loved the car and kept it until 1989 when it was sold to Mark Hyman, the well-known US car dealer who has a penchant for Facel Vegas.

It was subsequently sold to Russell Steele, a helicopter pilot in Washington State who had it completely restored by Facel specialist Gary Overby, of Seattle. The restoration was comprehensive and meticulous, and it was completed in the 1990s. It was a body-off operation which left no detail untouched. Five new Borrani wheels were fitted at this time, and an extensive file of restoration invoices and details accompanies the car.

It also changed colour: it is now painted in light yellow and has oxblood leather upholstery and interior trim, whilst the carpeting is dark grey. The exterior stainless steel brightwork is highly polished and in excellent condition. The instrument panel is the familiar burl wood pattern with Jaeger gauges and an electric clock. Both the engine and luggage compartments are meticulously detailed and correctly appointed.

The estimate for this HK500 is £145-175,000.

Lot 136

1959 Facel Vega HK500 Coupé

To be auctioned on Monday, September 8, 2014

£145,000 – £175,000

Chassis no. HK BC2

Engine no. TY731567

Production no. 579

360 bhp, 6,279 cc OHV V-8 engine, four-speed manual gearbox, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,667 mm

Original owner was Lord Soames, the son-in-law of Sir Winston Churchill

Franco-American elegance and British heritage

Meticulous restoration

A grand routier for all continents

1959_Facel_Vega_HK500_Coupé_London_2014_RM_AUCTIONS_-_2014-08-30_18.17.24

One could hardly find a car more cosmopolitan than this Franco-American Coupé, which was delivered new to a British peer. This right-hand-drive 1959 Facel Vega HK500 was delivered new to Arthur Christopher John Soames, a British politician and the son-in-law to Winston Churchill.

The Facel Vega, of course, was the brainchild of Jean Daninos, a Parisian-born engineer of Greek ancestry. He worked for Citroën in body engineering and as the head of special vehicles, but he left after the Michelin takeover. He founded Métallon, a fabricator of kitchen cabinets and sinks, and in 1939, he established Forges et Atéliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loire, or FACEL for short. The two firms combined and made aero engines during World War II.

After the war, Facel-Métallon produced bodies for the Dyna Panhard, the Simca, and Ford of France’s Cométe Coupé. In 1954, Daninos decided to try his hand at a complete car. He mounted a Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine on a tubular chassis frame with box-section cross-members, and he used either Chrysler’s Powerflite automatic gearbox or the French Pont-a-Mousson fully synchronised four-speed manual unit. Suspension was in the American idiom: coil-spring independent in the front and a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The body was Facel’s own, and it was executed in steel with stainless brightwork. A few convertibles were built, but most were four-passenger pillarless coupés.

The first cars were designated FV, and by 1956, a 5,407-cubic centimetre Chrysler Hemi-powered version was introduced as the FV2B. Power-assisted steering became available, and an Excellence four-door pillarless saloon was displayed at the Paris Motor Show late in 1957. In 1958, several engines were offered, with the largest being a 5,801-cubic centimetre Hemi, and the Excellence reached production, with 22 being built.

A modest restyling heralded in 1959, and the coupé was now called the HK500. During the year, the Chrysler 6,279-cubic centimetre “wedge” engine, which was replacing the Hemi in the United States, was made available. With twin four-throat Carter carburettors, it made 360 brake horsepower. Tom McCahill, the loquacious auto critic for Mechanix Illustrated, called it “sexier than the Place Pigalle and throatier than a Russian basso”.

Christopher Soames, as he preferred to be called, was born in 1920 to a brewing family which had married into the landed gentry. He served as the Assistant Military Attaché in Paris during World War II, and after the war, he entered politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Bedford. He was Under-Secretary of State for Air from 1955 to 1957 in the Anthony Eden government, and under Harold Macmillan, he was the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty from 1957 to 1958. In the 1955 Birthday Honours, he was invested as Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He married Mary Churchill, the youngest daughter of Winston and Clementine Hozier Churchill, in 1947, and he was made a life peer in 1978.

Baron Soames purchased this 1959 HK500 Coupé whilst serving as Harold MacMillan’s Secretary of State for War. It is of the right-hand-drive configuration and features the twin-carburettor, 6.2-litre engine and a comparatively rare Pont-a-Mousson four-speed manual gearbox. It is equipped with power windows, windscreen washers, power steering, European-style headlamps, and a Motorola solid state radio, and it has a set of new Borrani centre-lock wire wheels with three-ear Facel Vega knock-ons, which is another rare and desirable factory option.

Soames’ ownership is confirmed by records of the British, French, and Dutch Facel clubs. He apparently sold the car to the son of another Member of Parliament, who in turn sold it to Mrs Coralie Leighty, of Los Angeles, California, in the late 1970s. She loved the car and kept it until 1989. It was subsequently sold to Russell Steele, a helicopter pilot in Washington State who had it completely restored by Facel specialist Gary Overby, of Seattle. The restoration was comprehensive and meticulous, and it was completed in the 1990s. It was a body-off operation which left no detail untouched. Five new Borrani wheels were fitted at this time, and an extensive file of restoration invoices and details accompanies the car.

It is painted in light yellow and has oxblood leather upholstery and interior trim, whilst the carpeting is dark grey. Exterior brightwork is stainless steel throughout, and it is highly polished and in excellent condition. The instrument panel is a burl wood pattern with Jaeger gauges and an electric clock. Both the engine and luggage compartments are meticulously detailed and correctly appointed.

As the Facel Vega is a subtle crossbreeding of French flair with American practicality, it is comfortable on all continents. It is fast, cosy, and elegant—a real grand routier in the proper sense. With just 190 built, all by hand, in 1959, it is a worthy legatee to the pre-war, coachbuilt European prestige automobiles. On condition alone, this car is amongst the best extant. As it is equipped with right-hand drive, the dual-carburettor wedge engine, and a rare manual gearbox, it is part of a very select constituency. With its Churchill family and political provenance, it is incomparable.

 

Jon Goodwins Facel

Restoration of 200JPK Part II

Moorland Classic Cars’ long-time customer Jon Goodwin bought 200JPK back in 2002/3 and so began a long journey to rejuvenate a true classic.
Part 1 of the restoration was documented in Facel Letter in November 2003 when my brother and business partner, Martin, chronicled the mechanical restoration of the vehicle.

 

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After running 200JPK for six or seven years and entering it into numerous events, Jon decided the Facel was starting to show too many signs of a mediocre body restoration and respray which had been carried out several years before he bought the car. So early in 2010 he commissioned us to begin the restoration.
We agreed that we would dismantle the entire car, except for the running gear, to carry out the task.
Before we started we decided it would be sensible to tackle the problem of ‘raining in’ around the door and rear quarter windows, as they didn’t actually have a seal as such. New seal retainers were fabricated and fitted, as the originals which simply didn’t seal, were just not fit for purpose. However, by chance we discovered that Ford Escort MK1 rear quarter window seals were the perfect profile to do the job on the rear quarter windows of 200JPK. Once we were happy they were leak tested and found to be watertight – a great result.
Now the car was ready to be dismantled. Everything was photographed, labelled and packed away.
The paint and layers of ‘body filler’ were removed to reveal a multitude of previous repairs to sills, doors, wheel arches and so on… At this point we also decided to scrape off a thick layer of underseal on the underside and in the boot which revealed even more dodgy repairs.
Every panel and part of the car needed a repair or re-repair – even the roof! This had rotted, as had the bottom of the pillars and the joints along both gutter seams. These had previously been repaired (a term I use quite loosely in this case) with body lead. The two front screen pillars were no longer actually attached to the rest of the car, apart from with half a kilo of lead which had cracked through!
We hand-formed new sections and welded them in. In addition, all of the glass and trims needed to be refitted once more. At the same time we fabricated new sills, lower sections of all four wings, rear arches (inners and outers) and welded them into place. As you can imagine, this is a massive task and took months of painstaking work.
Next, the bonnet and bootlid skins were removed. The bootlid outerskin had a section ‘wheeled’ up and welded in, while the inner was repaired and blasted, then fitted back together. We could see that the bonnet skin was just too bad to re-use so a new skin for this was also ‘wheeled’ up and the original centre scoop spot welded back in. The two skins were then bonded back together using a modern panel adhesive – a compound which is used by many vehicle manufacturers today, thus avoiding any distortion.
Many areas of the complicated chassis were found to be severely corroded, so we hand formed new sections and welded them into place.
Both doors had previously been repaired, but not to the high standard the car now merited, so these sections were cut out and replaced with new ‘shaped’ sections which we welded in (edge to edge).
During the many months of the restoration, Jon had various ideas on a colour change which he felt would enhance the finished look. From the start he felt a blue –an elegant ‘French’ blue, would be ideal but couldn’t decide on an exact shade. We agreed the best way to trial the colour was on a model, so Jon purchased several HK500 1:18 diecast models, and we masked and painted them up in various colours from metallic green to gloss black. Eventually, we formulated a colour in-house which fitted the ‘French Blue’ theme; the model was painted and the decision made.
Once all of the steelwork was finished and all the trim and bumpers fitted up, the painting process began. Many hours of priming and flatting by hand followed to gain the shape and finish required.
Finally, the topcoat in Base and Clear was applied and then ‘colour sanded’ with 2000 grit sandpaper. This was then buffed to a ‘glass flat’ concours finish.
The colour was a perfect complement to the lines of the car. It looked stunning!
The next job was to prepare and paint the boot area in satin black.
All of the original trim and carpets were refitted and it has to be said that the original patina of the seats – that unique aged look and irreplaceable lustre – is one of the car’s greatest assets.
All of the brightwork and bumpers, being made from stainless steel were ‘machine polished’ back to their former glory, with any small dents being knocked out and flatted prior to polishing.
We agreed that the aluminium outer sill covers had really seen better days and so decided to fabricate new ones in mirror polished stainless steel to match the bumper lines and both ends.
Jon decided that the ‘Frog’ mascot previously fitted needed to go back on as part of the car’s history, and I have to say that drilling a hole in the bonnet skin I had spent so many hours making and fitting was not a pleasant experience. But I must admit, once the frog was in place it did look perfectly at home.
To complement the stunning presence of the grill and light arrangement at the front of the car, a motorcycle-sized number plate was created and fitted. While not strictly legal it really does keep the look tidy at the front.
200JPK was almost finished and the last decision to be made was on the style of the wheels. Jon felt that chrome wires were in order, so we tried several spoke styles and rim widths before agreeing upon the ‘centre laced’ rims.
The final ‘spit and polish’ was applied and the car delivered back to Jon’s stable, amid snowy weather, on Christmas Eve, 2010 enabling Jon to unveil it to his family during the Christmas festivities. It was almost 12 months since we had begun this mammoth task and a huge sigh of relief was breathed by all involved. A rare classic given a stunning new lease of life, hopefully for generations to enjoy.

Tony Hine, Moorland Classic Cars.