In the world history of the automobile, cars originating from France hold a special place for having abundant style and mechanical sophistication. In the 1930s and 1940s, French car makers and carrosserie were producing some of the most opulent and flamboyant machines of all time. By the 1950s it was all about Citroen and their magnificently sophisticated, space-age DS. At the same time, a small French auto maker was building their own high end luxury cars with a unique style and a thumping heart of American V8 muscle. Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure et de Loire, known simply by its contraction “Facel”, was originally formed in 1938 by Jean Daninos as a supplier of machine tools for the aircraft industry. During World War II, they diversified into gas generators as military machinery could not be built under the German occupation. After the war, they returned to the aircraft industry but also added stainless steel kitchen equipment and soon car bodies, namely for Panhard, Simca and Ford France. In a short time, Facel had amassed a very diverse portfolio!
Daninos was quite a petrol head, and he had a strong desire to build a distinctly French luxury car of his own design. His first car, known simply as the Vega, took its name from the brightest star in the Lyra constellation and featured supremely elegant coupé bodywork on a tubular-steel chassis. Given the fact that Delage, Delahaye and Talbo-Lago were gone, there was a void in the top of the French luxury car market. The Vega sold enough examples to be updated and improved through a further three generations. The ultimate evolution, Facel II, used Chrysler supplied 383 (6.3L) engines with either a Torqueflite automatic transmission or the very rare optional Pont-a-Mousson four-speed manual. These were very capable Gran Routiers, capable of over 135 mph in automatic equipped examples. In fact, the Facel Vega company advertised the Facel II as "Le Coupé 4-places le plus rapide du Monde" ('The Fastest 4-seater Coupé in the World'). All told, only 182 total examples were built before Daninos changed tack to build smaller sporting cars, a decision that would lead to their bankruptcy in 1965.
According to factory production records maintained by Amicale Facel, this fabulous 1965 Facel II was delivered new to the Facel agent in Dusseldorf, Germany. The first few years of its life are unaccounted for, but it has a known history since 1973 when it was purchased by JD Snapper of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1978 the car was bought by Gary Overby in Washington who performed the restoration and in 1996 it was purchased by Geoff Eaton who owned the car until acquired by us. Upon close inspection the Facel’s restoration has held up very well and still presents quite wonderfully, showing minimal careful use since being completed. The paint maintains a fine lustre and the panel fit and gaps are tight and consistent, reflecting the superior standard to which these cars were originally built. Exactly how it rolled out of the Paris workshop back in 1965, our car is finished in its original and striking color scheme of Silver Grey over Rouge leather. A Facel signature feature, the curvaceous wrap-round dash was in fact metal but meticulously painted to look like wood, with aircraft inspired switches, this is one of the coolest cabins of all time. Retaining its original numbers matching TY8 Chrysler Typhoon 383 cubic inch wedge engine with four-barrel carburetor and TorqueFlite automatic transmission, it has all the options and power assists including air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, fog lights and correct Borrani wheels. The engine compartment is nicely detailed and all the details inside the car and under the hood are correct. It is fully sorted and ready for touring and events, but has been prepared to a level that makes it suitable for the occasional show as well. The pinnacle of the French grandes routieres, capable of steady 100+mph touring in near complete silence , luxury and safety, this Facel II is the culmination of a half-century of great French cars by Delahaye, Delage, Talbot-Lago, Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza and Facel.