1956 Facel-Vega

Jean Daninos was a successful postwar entrepreneur in France, the country which originated both the word and the concept. His company, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure et de Loire, started in the Thirties but blossomed in the postwar years as a producer of such diverse products as kitchen cabinets and Dyna Panhard bodies. Even as socialism strangled the great French grandes routieres like Talbot Lago, Delahaye, Delage and even Bugatti with confiscatory taxation Daninos dreamed of returning France to the prominence it had enjoyed. His vehicle was the Facel, the acronym for his company, and its critical components came from France's longtime ally across the Atlantic, the United States. In 1955 he dropped a DeSoto hemi-head V8 and Torqueflite automatic transmission into a twin tube frame with independent front suspension and live rear axle, and then welded a beautiful full envelope coupe body designed by Jacques Brasseur to the frame for extra rigidity. It evolved quickly with some 357 built before production shifted to the interim FV2B like this exceptional example. The FV2B was a new hardtop coupe which foreshadowed the HK500. It was still Mopar powered, starting with the 276 cubic inch DeSoto engine and soon building up to the full 331 cubic inch Chrysler Hemi with dual exhausts. This example is beautifully presented in Dark Metallic Gunmetal Grey with inviting Tan leather upholstery and interior trim. It is appropriately fully equipped as a luxury gran turismo, including pushbutton Torqueflite automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes and twin antennas. The 4-barrel carburetor has a fabulous batwing air cleaner that could have inspired George Lucas's designs for "Star Wars" fighters. The dual exhausts exit through the rear bumper under distinctive v-shaped taillights. This is a highly desirable car that has never had, nor has it needed, a full restoration but has received regular mechanical and cosmetic attention as needed which maintained it in condition to be shown at the prestigious Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance in 2002. It is very correctly put together and subtly luxurious in its Gunmetal over Tan livery, a beautiful, powerful, great handling automobile and worthy of its stature as the last of the great French grandes routieres.

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