When race owners like Stirling Moss and Rob Walker gave the Facel Vega their stamp of
approval many of the celebrities, royals and racing drivers of the 1960s lined up to buy
them. This marque was an expensive car offering the comfort of a Rolls-Royce, the urge of
a sportscar and the reliability and driving ease which had come to be associated with
American cars. For the price, however, you could have bought a couple of E-type Jaguars
along with a Lotus Elan.
The Facel Vega, easily France’s most stylish and expensive marque in the 1950s and
1960s, was produced by Facel-Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure et Loire of Paris,
but was powered by a Chrysler V8 engine.
To drive a Facel, unlike an Aston Martin or a Ferrari, you did not need the skill of a racing
driver or a mechanic in the boot. You would, however, have to put uniquely French
elegance at the top of its list of attributes. When first released its looks impressed all who
saw it. The shape suggested both weight and strength, from its sculptured rear end with its
pronounced tail fins to its square roof and impressive front end. In fact, it was a heavy car
weighing in at 1880kg.
The automatic version with a Torqueflite transmission was powered by the 265kW single-
carburettor version of the 6.3-litre 90-degree V8 Chrysler engine and could exceed
209km/h. However, the better performance came from the less popular four-speed manual
which was good for 225km/h and was powered by a twin-carburettor 291kW V8 from the
Chrysler 300 as a no-cost option.
The simplistic suspension of the Facel Vega was a hand-me-down from the earlier model
HK comprising coils and wishbones at the front with anti-roll bar and hefty half-elliptics on
the live rear axle. Some dealers retro fitted Armstrong rear dampers to somewhat soften
the ride. Dunlop disc brakes were used on all four wheels and other standard equipment
included power steering, leather seating and electrically operated windows. In the cabin
the car had the feel of a small aircraft being fitted with a vast array of dials and switches.
The Facel Vega II was introduced in 1962 with cleaned-up styling but almost identical
running gear to earlier models. However, in 1964 after only 184 cars had been produced
the Facel marque died when the company was bankrupted by an excess of warranty
claims on its unreliable smaller car, the Facellia.