Sportscar Makers

Facel Vega


The Facel Vega was the brainchild of Jean Daninos, whose determination led him to recreate the classic French grande routière exemplified by Bugatti, Delage, Hotchkiss, Delahaye and Talbot in the years between the wars. After working with Citroen on the development of pressed steel bodies, Daninos established Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure-et-Loir in 1939 for the manufacture of aircraft components and metal furniture, specializing in stainless steel.

After the war, Facel built bodies for Panhard, Simca and Ford-France (described here) and also produced Pininfarina-designed coachwork for the Daninos-inspired Bentley Cresta, precursor of the famed Bentley Continental.

Building on the experience of these ventures, Daninos unveiled his first Facel - the aptly named Vega - at the Paris Salon in 1954. Over the next 10 years, the range progressed through the FV to the HK500 and Facel II models - all being fitted with the most powerful Chrysler V8 engines available. They were luxuriously appointed 2+2 coupes except for a limited-production limousine, the Excellence, produced from 1958 to 1962, with the remarkable feature of four doors with no central pillar.

In 1959 the Facellia was introduced at the Paris Salon. This beautiful two-seater convertible was a major step by Daninos towards his ultimate aim of an all-French car. The 1647cc twin overhead cam engine was designed and manufactured in collaboration with Pont-à-Mousson, who were already producing manual gearboxes for the Chrysler-engined cars. The Facellia range was later expanded to include two- and four-seater fixed-head coupes. Unfortunately, despite some advanced features and high power output for its size, lack of development and production difficulties caused disappointing reliability and the resultant poor publicity led directly to the demise of the company. Later versions of the small Facel were powered by Volvo or Austin Healey engines.

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Author: ArchitectPage

Jean Daninos