Excellence- The Story of Facel Vega
A Large American V8, Fit into Beautiful French Bodywork, What more could You Possibly Want?
The story of Facel Vega begins in 1939, when the company was formed by Jean Daninos to make pressed steel products such as tools, aircraft parts (for the French military), and automotive bodies. The company was now fully contributing to the war effort, but following the fall of France in 1940, some of the companies manufacturing plants were taken over by the Germans to make wood burning condensers. After 1945, however, the company was then fully restored to its former glory, and with the war coming to an end, they needed to think of something to keep the company afloat (as all they were doing at the time was making auto bodies.) So, finally in 1955, the company decided to start making its own cars, with the bodies and chassis made by them right in France, with engines provided by Chrysler. The first car that they made was the beautiful and powerful Facel Vega FV, a beautiful car that started the iconic Facel Vega look, though not as well known as its successor, the Facel Vega HK500, a masterpiece of design and engineering. With every piece handcrafted and polished to perfection, looking spectacular both inside and out. With beautiful fins, and much details to the chrome, and special wood finish inside. One interesting feature that some models had, though, were push-button transmission
The famous and successful Facel Vega HK500, a masterpiece of design and a great classic.
After the success of the HK500, the company had an idea, make a limousine that would outshine a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley, and be just as fast as some of their other cars. The result of this was something wonderful, the Facel Vega Excellence.
The Facel Vega Excellence, a massive limo with an equally massive amount of power.
The Facel Vega Excellence was released at the Paris Motor Show of 1956, and the cars went up for sale in 1958. Daninos, the head of Facel Vega, hoped that the Excellence would appeal to celebrity's, dictators, and heads of state worldwide, after all, it had a beautiful wraparound windshield, flamboyant fins, and, despite the immense weight, a high top speed. It was powered by a 355 cubic inch Chrysler V8, which gave the car a top speed of about 130 mph despite weighing in at over 4,000 pounds. Despite all the appeal, it had hardly any success, with only 230 being built. The car also had some large problems, despite having a heavily reinforced chassis, it would actually (when fully loaded), sag in the middle, making it impossible to open the doors, and trapping the owners inside the car. Despite the major flaw, the car was arguably one of the best limousines money could buy at the time, with a resplendent interior, and the dashboard was also a thing of beauty. Every chrome knob, every dial and every square inch of wood finish was beautifully organized and detailed.
The beautiful interior of the Facel Vega Excellence.
Here is a collection of photos of the Facel Vega Excellence-
After the Excellence, Daninos decided that Facel Vega should try to make the perfect French luxury GT. The result was Facel Vega's final car, the Facel Vega 2.
The Facel Vega 2, a handsome GT, while having different styling than it predecessors, still retained the Facel Vega look.
The Facel Vega 2 was a wonderful car, with ample power and good looks. It looked like a beautiful performance/luxury machine, and it really was, as it packed 390 HP, and could reach speeds of about 150 mph. Unfortunately, before Daninos and could roll out another masterpiece, the company hit bankruptcy, due to one of the previous models, the Facellia. The Facellia was, from the outside, a decent car, with good performance and also good looks. And for an affordable price, but unfortunately, instead of having the normal Chrysler V8 that previous models had, it had a French-built flat four. This turned out to be a massive mistake, as it had decent power output, it was notoriously unreliable, with burnt valves, overheating problems, and a tendency to break down. This caused a huge plummet in sales, putting the company into receivership. Facel Vega was forced to shut down production of the Facel Vega 2, with only 180 being built in total. It was a sad end for a company with such great designs, if they hadn't fallen into bankruptcy, they would be, without a doubt one of the best car companies in the world, but despite the quick end, they were, one of the best car manufactures in the world, holding record value when they come up to sell.
Image Sources: ClassicDriver.com, Hemmings, JBClassicCars.com.