In 1954, French Industrialist and all-around car enthusiast Jean Daninos expanded his rapidly growing coachbuilding operation into a full-fledged automobile manufacturer. Applying the experience gained while building bodies for the Ford Comete and a brief partnership with Pininfarina, he created the Facel Vega. It was a distinctly French GT car with lavish trimmings and sophisticated style, powered by reliable and potent Chrysler V8 engines. With Delahaye and Delage out of business and Talbot-Lago on the brink of closure, Facel Vega was left to carry the torch as France's only home-grown prestige car. As soon as deliveries began, the Facel Vega's highly exclusive image endeared it with the wealthy and famous, and the impressive roster of customers included Pablo Picasso, Christian Dior, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtiss, and Ringo Starr. Even racing drivers like Maurice Trintignant and Stirling Moss owned Facels, which they used for high-speed continental drives between Grands Prix.
This outstanding Facel Vega HK500 is one of just 190 cars produced in 1959. Once completed by Facel, it was shipped to the United States and sold through the highly influential dealer Max Hoffman Imports. Build records show it came equipped with the 6.3-liter Chrysler V8 backed by a Torque-Flite pushbutton automatic transmission. The first owner was a passionate and enthusiastic owner from day one, and it remained in his care for roughly fifty years. In the late 2000s, it was treated to a comprehensive restoration by a group of marque specialists led by WGM Restorations in Illinois. The original Chrysler engine and Torque-flite gearbox were rebuilt, and the cosmetics treated to a high-quality restoration, culminating in a beautiful pale-yellow paint scheme over lush red leather upholstery. Noted European specialist Hans Ruhe supplied many of the rare factory parts needed for the project.
In 2013, the Facel Vega traded hands to another dedicated enthusiast who commissioned several mechanical improvements. The car now features dual-circuit, vacuum-assisted brakes with Wilwood discs in front and cast-iron drums in the rear, wire wheels, and improved cooling. The most recent owner carried on the task of maintaining the HK500 in excellent mechanical and cosmetic condition.
Resplendent in its pale yellow over red color scheme, this HK500 remains in superb condition thanks to its previous owners' attentive care. Paint quality is excellent, and the body exhibits superb fit and finish, with beautiful trim all around, including the stainless steel bumpers which have been chromed for a bright and long-lasting finish. The chrome wire wheels are in excellent condition, fitted with black wall radial tires.
The luxurious cabin is a particular high point of this Facel Vega. Gorgeous red leather features on the seats, dash, console, and virtually every interior panel, including the quilted headlining. The hides are accented with red carpets and the broad, woodgrain-finish dash with aircraft-inspired Jaeger instruments with chrome bezels. The switchgear and controls are correct originals pieces, and equipment includes power windows, power steering, and a period-correct Becker Grand Prix radio. Like the body, the quality of the interior trim reflects the no-expense-spared restoration.
Powering the Facel is the original, matching-numbers 6.3-liter Chrysler "Wedge" V8, bearing the correct factory "TY" stamping per production records. The engine bay is well detailed, with modern additions such as the updated brakes, electric cooling fans, and Edelbrock carburetor appearing well-integrated without spoiling the authentic feel. The mighty Chrysler V8 propels the HK500 down the boulevard with ease, with vast reserves of torque making for relaxed progress in ultimate style.
With just 490 built, the Facel Vega HK500 is highly prized for its rarity as much as its quality and distinctive style. This outstanding example is ready for comfortable long-distance touring and would be a welcome addition to any grouping of the finest French grand routiers.
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