In 1954, successful French industrialist Jean Daninos realized a long-held dream when he expanded the coachbuilding division of Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure-et-Loir (FACEL) into a full-fledged automobile manufacturer. His glamorous new Facel Vega was a distinctly French GT car with lavish trimmings and sophisticated style. Chrysler provided their potent V8 engines and robust automatic transmissions as FACEL lacked the resources to develop engines in-house. The extravagant Facel Vega was an immediate hit, and the list of prominent owners includes Pablo Picasso, Christian Dior, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, and even Stirling Moss, who preferred driving his fast and comfortable Facel between races on the Continent. The next natural step from the two-door GT came as a stately four-door luxury sedan worthy of world leaders and captains of industry.
Aimed at cars like the Bentley S-Type, Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer, and later, the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, the Facel Vega Excellence was France's premier luxury automobile. The aptly named Excellence debuted in prototype form at the 1956 Paris Salon. This striking four-door sedan shared similar styling to the 2-door model, but with sweeping, finned quarter panels and dramatic rear-hinged doors that opened to reveal a fully pillarless door opening. Technically, the Excellence shared chassis components powertrain options with the FV4 and HK500, albeit on a stretched platform. Production cars came in three series, the earliest EX (11 examples, including the prototype), EX1 (133 built), and EX2 (8 built). Rarely seen today, the Facel Vega Excellence is a fascinating alternative to more common luxury cars of the era, with a unique, instantly recognizable style.
We are pleased to present this fascinating and unique Facel Vega Excellence, chassis number EX8A. This car is the eighth Excellence produced and is one of just eleven 'EX' first-series cars. It was delivered ex-works to Jean Cavalier, a close personal friend of Jean Daninos and President of Pont-A-Mousson – the firm that supplied manual gearboxes to FACEL. On July 21, 1958, it was registered as “7440 HE 75” under “Societe Metallurgique et Minière du Périgord – 91 Rue Jouffroy – Paris,” the parent firm of Pont-A-Mousson. Factory production records show it was delivered in Isetta White with a black roof and black Vaumol leather trim. Since Cavalier was such an important customer and ambassador for Facel Vega, his Excellence was treated to several bespoke upgrades and updates during his ownership.
Records show EX8A was completed with a Chrysler 300-C Hemi engine and automatic gearbox; however, it is believed Facel Vega retained the car and updated it with a 4-speed Pont-A-Mousson transmission. In December 1961, the car was re-registered as 450 JL 54 and owned by Pont-A-Mousson, and at the disposal of Chevalier. It is believed that EX8A returned to the factory several times, as some of the features are from later Excellence and HK500 models.
Notable features fitted by the works include a more powerful HK500-spec Wedge engine, with proper Facel number TY 39251, the aforementioned manual gearbox, and HK500 disc brakes with knock-off disc-style wheels. The coachwork was revised, with squared-off wheel arches and unique décor trim pieces affixed to the rear doors. Finished in Isetta white with a black roof, the Excellence undoubtedly made a bold statement on the streets of Paris and wherever else it took Mr. Cavalier on business.
In the late 1960s, the Excellence was sold to Mr. Mieck, a scrap metal dealer who had rescued many significant automobiles through the years, amassing an extensive collection which he housed in Nancy, France. Correspondence on file from Michel Lorrain states he saw the unrestored Excellence at Mieck's in the 1970s. In 1983, Mr. Etienne Marquant purchased EX8A intending to restore it, though the project never got off the ground. He, in turn, sold it to an American enthusiast named Peter Phillips in 2007, who finally began the process of restoring the Excellence.
Today, this unique Facel Vega presents in fine order, finished in its original color scheme of Isetta white with a black roof and black leather upholstery. It retains its factory-fitted Chrysler Wedge engine, four-speed Pont-A-Mousson gearbox, disc wheels, and unique trim pieces on the rear doors. The car is offered with with excellent paint, brightwork, and cosmetic detailing, with period-correct touches including proper Michelin X tires and Marchal Equilux headlamps. The cabin is lined in attractive black leather that covers the seats, door cards, dash, and console, along with matching black carpets. The soft trim is in good condition overall, and the cabin is faithful to original specifications, with correct woodgrain-effect dash and a full array of Jaeger instruments.
Chassis number EX8A is a unique Facel Vega with a rich and fascinating history, and it represents a rare opportunity to add one of the most exclusive luxury motorcars of the 50s to your stable.
Offers welcome and trades considered
Stock number 6982
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