Facel Vega FVS

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Facel Vega FV/FVS/HK500
Facel-Vega FV Front-view.JPG
Overview
Manufacturer Facel
Also called Facel Vega HK500 (1959–1962)
Production 1954–1962
Designer Jean Daninos
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe
Layout Front engine, rear wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine 4,528 cc DeSoto Fire Dome V8
4,768 cc DeSoto Fire Dome V8
4,940 cc Chrysler Poly V8
5,407 cc DeSoto Fire Dome V8
5,801 cc Chrysler Hemi V8
6,279 cc Typhoon V8[1] Chrysler B-383[2]
Transmission 2- or 3-speed automatic
4-speed manual
Chronology
Successor Facel Vega II

The Facel Vega FV/FVS was a car produced by French car maker Facel from 1954 to 1959. It continued until 1962 as the HK500.

History[edit]

FV[edit]

Rear view of early FV

The Facel 'Vega' was launched at the 1954 Paris Salon. By 1956 the cars were called FVS (for Facel Vega Sport), earlier cars often being referred to as simply "FV".[3] The 1954 versions of the Facel were fitted with a DeSoto Firedome (Chrysler) 4.5 litre Hemi V8 engine, paired with either Chrysler's two-speed Powerflite automatic transmission or, at extra cost, a four-speed manual made by Pont-à-Mousson.[4] At this stage, the 180 hp FV was capable of 172 to 193 km/h (107 to 120 mph) depending on which rear axle ratio was installed. The chassis, designed by Lance Macklin, was tubular framed, featuring coil springs and double wishbones at the front, with a leaf-sprung live rear axle.[1] Styling, by Daninos himself, was somewhat American and perhaps a bit heavy, with rudimentary tail fins. The body was an expanded version of the earlier, Facel-bodied Simca/Ford Comète. An abundance of stainless steel brightwork was fitted.

The interior was uncommonly luxurious, and of exceptional workmanship. The dashboard was aircraft-inspired, and one of the first to feature a middle console over the gearbox. The rear seats folded flat to provide a luggage platform and additional access to the boot.[1] In 1955 the engine capacity increased to 4.8 litres and 200 hp (FV1), which later in the year grew to 250 hp (FV2). 47 of these early FVs were built in 1954 and 1955. Six were convertibles, but as these suffered from rigidity troubles the rest of the large two-door Facels were pillarless coupés.[1]

FVS[edit]

Early Facel Vega FVS (1956 FV2B), combining the first front design with panoramic windshield

The 1956 FVS featured a panoramic (aka wrap-around) windshield. Sometimes referred to as FV2, the car featured the same engine as in the later FV1s. Subsequently the 5.4-litre FV2B appeared, with 255 hp. Later versions offered a three-speed automatic, and disc brakes were available from 1958. At some point a reworked, more harmonious front end was introduced, featuring what looked like twin stacked headlights but what were actually headlamps on top and auxiliaries beneath. Power steering and power brakes were both standard as of 1957.[2] For 1958, the engine grew to 5.8 litres (FV4) and 325 hp, although the earlier 4.5 and a 4.9 (FV3/FV3B) were also listed as available. In total, 357 FVs and FVSs were built.[3]

A four-door version, called the Excellence, was added to the lineup in 1958, but was even more rarefied than the two-door version.

HK500[edit]

Facel Vega HK500

For 1959, the Facel Vega HK500 was introduced. Essentially, it was just a renamed, upgraded FVS. Equipped at first with the 335 hp[5] 5.8-litre V8 from the FVS, the HK500 soon received a 360 bhp 6.3 litre Chrysler V8 making for a top speed of 147 mph (237 km/h). 60 miles per hour came up in 8.5 seconds.[2] Initially disc brakes were optional, becoming standard in April 1960.[3] The crisply designed Facel Vega II replaced the HK500 in 1962, after 489 had been built. One was a specially made convertible. Total FV/HK production was 842[2] or 846 depending on the source.

French publisher Michel Gallimard was driving his HK500 on January 2, 1960 when he lost control and crashed outside of Villeblevin. The crash killed him and one of his passengers, Nobel laureate Albert Camus. Some have speculated that the driver was not familiar with the car's handling and weight, and that contributed to the severity of the crash.[6]

Production[7]
1954-1955 47 (FV)
1956 107 (FVS)
1957 118 (FVS)
1958 85 (FVS)
71 (HK500)
1959 190 (HK500)
1960 202 (HK500)
1961 66 (split between
HK500 and Facel II)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Flammang 1994, p. 201.
  2. ^ a b c d Flammang 1994, p. 202.
  3. ^ a b c Lawrence 1991, p. 111.
  4. ^ Wood 2002, pp. 58–59.
  5. ^ Or 325 hp, sources differ.
  6. ^ Bayley, Stephen. "Albert Camus’ Crash". Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  7. ^ From Flammang 1994, pp. 201-203 and Lawrence 1991, p. 111. Some of these numbers vary slightly depending on the source.

References[edit]

  • Flammang, James M. (1994). Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-1990. Iola, WI, US: Krause Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-87341-158-7. 
  • Lawrence, Mike (1991). A to Z of Sports Cars. Bideford, Devon, UK: Bay View Books. p. 111. ISBN 1-870979-81-8. 
  • Wood, Jonathan (2002). The Ultimate History of Fast Cars. Parragon Books. pp. 58–59. ISBN 1-4054-6068-7.