Monaco | Lot 216
1961 Facel Vega HK500
€130,000 - €160,000 EUR
| Monte Carlo, Monaco
14 May 2016
- Ordered new by American industrialist and Facel Vega devotee William Carr
- Freshly restored in classic colours
- Iconic Franco-American Grand Routier
360 bhp, 361 cu. in. Chrysler Typhoon OHV V-8 Engine, three-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,667 mm
The Facel Vega was the brainchild of Jean Daninos, a Parisian-born engineer of Greek ancestry. Daninos worked for Citroën in body engineering and as the head of special vehicles, though he left after the Michelin takeover. He founded Métallon, a fabricator of kitchen cabinets and sinks, and in 1939, he established Forges et Atéliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loire, or F.A.C.E.L. The two firms combined and made aero engines during World War II.
After the War, Facel-Métallon produced bodies for the Dyna Panhard, the Simca, and perhaps most famously, the Ford Cométe coupé. In 1954, Daninos set about creating a car in the tradition of the great French grand routiers of the pre-war era. In designing the car, he combined French elegance and craftsmanship with transatlantic flair and genuine grand tourer performance.
In the absence of a suitable French-built power unit, Daninos chose the Chrysler Hemi V-8 engine mounted on his own tubular chassis frame with box-section cross-members. Two gearbox options were available: either Chrysler’s TorqueFlite automatic transmission or the French Pont-a-Mousson fully synchronised four-speed manual unit. By the time the HK500 was launched in 1957, power had risen to a published 360 brake horsepower, from a 361 cubic-inch version of Chrysler’s Hemi V-8, making it one of the fastest cars in the world in its time, capable of effortless cruising at over 100 mph.
The gallery of Facel owners reads like a who’s who of high society, film stars, and royalty. Owners included Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Ringo Starr, Joan Fontaine, and Ava Gardner. Proving that the Facel Vega also had substance to match its style, several racing drivers—including Stirling Moss and Maurice Trintignant—also chose to add a Facel Vega to their garages.
The HK500 offered here, chassis number HK C2, production number 72, was ordered directly from the factory by American industrialist William Carr. Mr Carr was the son-in-law of Walter P. Chrysler, and his wife owned her own HK500. Undoubtedly a great enthusiast of the marque, he subsequently purchased two further HK500s and a Facel II! Chassis HK C2 was originally delivered with the three-speed TorqueFlite gearbox, and it was finished in Sand with beige leather interior, tinted glass, and wire wheels. The car remained in the United States until the 1980s, when it returned to Europe. The car remained unrestored for many years, until in its present European ownership; it was fully restored back to original condition, but with a change to the current body and interior colours.