Established in 1939 as a subsidiary of French military aircraft manufacturer Bronzavia, FACEL (Forges et Ateliers de Constructions d’Eure-et-Loir) entered a new and dynamic postwar era under the leadership of Jean Daninos. Appointed head of FACEL in 1945 and possessing considerable automotive and aviation production experience, Daninos aggressively guided the company into automobile-body manufacturing for Ford, Panhard, Simca, and even Bentley. Well-positioned for Europe’s postwar economic recovery, FACEL’s operations were also prudently diversified among vehicle types, including production of body parts for Delahaye, Panhard, Vespa, Piaggio, Motobecane, and various components for several tractor manufacturers.
On 22 July 1954, the Facel Vega marque was established as Daninos spearheaded a move into the ultra-luxury, Grand Touring automobile market, offering high levels of luxury and exclusivity from Day One. The company’s first production models were designated ‘FV’ and debuted at the October 1954 Paris Salon. Since no French manufacturer produced engines with the required output for superior performance, Facel minimized development time and engineering costs by sourcing powerful V-8 engines, robust transmissions, and proven chassis components from Chrysler’s DeSoto marque. Due to punitive French taxation, the vast majority (nearly 80 percent) of Facel Vega production was exported to North America.
By 1956, Facel Vega cars were collectively designated “FVS’ for ‘Facel Vega Sport.’ Powered by progressively larger and more-powerful Chrysler-supplied V-8 powerplants, these cars were methodically developed and uprated; by 1958, they were alternatively called ‘FVS Series 4’ or ‘FV4’, denoting “4th Series.” Nomenclature aside, these potent GT cars delivered ample power from the twin-carbureted 354ci/355hp “Hemi” V-8 engine as used by the NASCAR-dominating Chrysler 300B. Performance was, and remains breathtaking, including 0-60 MPH acceleration in about 9 seconds and potential for 130 MPH – ideal for the discerning owner/driver seeking to cover the maximum distance in the least time with bespoke comfort and luxurious appointments. Bodywork featured numerous modernistic design cues for the era, including stacked twin headlamps per side, a bold upright radiator grille with detached horizontal elements, a fashionable wraparound windshield, straight-through fenders, and smooth body sides terminating in tail lamps atop blade-type rear fenders. Interiors were spacious, handsomely trimmed in top-quality leather upholstery, and equipped with comfortable bucket-type front seats, plus a floor console and comprehensive instrumentation worthy of competition cars. Priced from about $12,000 new, representing the cost of a contemporary high-end Rolls-Royce, Continental Mark II, or a rare coachbuilt Ferrari, the FVS ‘Typhoon’ or FV4 saw careful evolution and extremely limited production.
This Facel Vega FVS is exceedingly rare, one of 85 ‘Series 4’ examples believed to have been produced for 1958. Alternatively known as the ‘Typhoon,’ as announced on its lower front fenders, it retains the original body number (248) and engine number (TY5-562144). Very well cosmetically restored and presented, it stands as a particularly exquisite example of this rare breed. Handsomely finished in Radiant Silver Metallic paint over rich red leather upholstery, this is reputedly one of seven FVSs delivered new to the United States via Max Hoffman’s famed New York-based European car distributorship in late 1957. Power is provided by the matching numbers 354ci Chrysler “FirePower” Hemi V-8 engine sporting twin 4-barrel carburetors, mated to Chrysler’s Powerflite two-speed automatic transmission. Following restoration, this FVS won Best in Class honors at the 2013 Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance in California. More recently, it completed the famed Copperstate 1000 long-distance road rally.
As offered, this “4th Series” 1958 Facel Vega FVS looks fabulous. Excellent and consistent stainless bumpers and discreet bright trim enhance the unique design cues. The interior is particularly attractive and inviting, featuring a quality restoration with rich red leather upholstery, matching wool carpeting, a correct dash with lovely woodgrain painted motif, proper and comprehensive Jaeger instruments, and a period-correct dual-band radio. Power window lifts and a leather-clad floor console with various easy-to-reach hand controls round out the sumptuous interior. The engine bay benefits from extensive detailing, and the powerful ‘Hemi’ V-8 features a factory-correct “Batwing” dual-element air cleaner.
Similar in concept to such glamorous and rare 1950s icons as the American-Italian Dual-Ghia, the Facel Vega FVS, its variants, and successors exemplify the late-1950s/early-1960s “Golden Age” of fast, luxurious, and eye-wateringly expensive Grand Touring machines. Equally capable of rapid transcontinental dashes and dignified cruising along the exotic Côte d’Azur or effortlessly gliding along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, this compelling example is well sorted and ready for continued enjoyment by a discerning collector/enthusiast.
Offers welcome and trades considered