1960 Facel Vega Facellia FA Cabriolet
Facel S.A. was a French manufacturer of pressed steel automobile components, later complete automobiles of their own design.
To intensify its World War II war effort, French subcontracting company for military aeronautics Bronzavia created a subsidiary called Facel (acronym of Forges et Ateliers de Constructions d'Eure-et-Loir) in December 1939. After the war, in 1945, by merging with Métallon, Facel began to make short-run special bodies, coupés or cabriolets for Simca, Ford of France, Panhard and Delahaye. Approximately 2,900 cars of all models were hand-built in Facel's short life.
Unitary bodies without a chassis became general for mass-produced cars, and Facel lost its big customers. French niche manufacturers ceased production. Métallon left the partnership in 1953, and Facel set about designing and making its own complete cars using engines made by Chrysler, Volvo and Austin. Its first design, named Vega, was shown to the public in 1954.
The Facellia model, introduced in 1959, was under-developed, and losses brought about by its warranty problems became impossible to recoup. Prior to closure, Facel had been placed under the control of Sud Aviation subsidiary SFERMA (Société Française d'Entretien et de Réparation de Matériel Aéronautique). Though initially successful, Facel closed its factory in October 1964.
In 1960, Facel entered the sports car market with the Facellia, with a premiere at the Paris Motor Show in 1959. It was a small car similar in size to the then popular Mercedes 190SL. Facellias were advertised in three body styles: cabriolet, 2+2 coupé and 4-seat coupé — all with the same mechanical parts and a 2,450 mm (96.5 in) wheelbase. Styling was similar to the Facel HK500, but with rather elegant (though fingernail-breaking) flush door handles. Following Facel Vega's demise several of M Daninos's styling cues were "borrowed" by Mercedes-Benz. Prices were roughly US$4,000 for the Facellia ($39,568 in 2022 dollars), US$5,500 for the Facel III ($49,460 in 2022 dollars) and US$6,000 for the Facel 6 ($59,352 in 2022 dollars).
With the idea of creating a mass-produced all-French sports car competing with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the Triumph TR3 and Porsche 356B, Facel moved away from Chrysler engines because Chrysler didn't offer a four-cylinder engine at the time. Instead, the Facellia had a four-cylinder 1.6 L twin-cam engine designed by former Talbot-Lago chief engineer Carlo Machetti, who won at Le Mans, along with the advice of famed English cylinder-head guru Harry Weslake, and built in France by Paul Cavallier of the Pont-à-Mousson company (which already provided manual gear boxes for the company's larger models) so as to be compliant with the punitive French horsepower tax system and increase sales. The engine had only two bearings supporting each camshaft, using special steels, as opposed to the usual four or five. Despite the metallurgical experience of Pont-à-Mousson, this resulted in excessive flex, timing problems, and frequent engine failures. Famed engineers Charles Deutsch and Jean Bertin were called in to solve the issues, but it was not enough and the engine was pronounced a disaster and the Facellia with it. The updated Facellia F2 was presented at the March 1961 Geneva Motor Show. Company president, Jean Daninos having been obliged to resign in August 1961 in response to the company's financial problems, the new boss, a former oil company executive called André Belin, gave strict instructions to the after-sales department to respond to customer complaints about broken Facellia engines by replacing the units free of charge without creating "difficulties". The strategy was intended to restore confidence among the company's customer base. It would certainly have created a large hole in the income statement under the "warranty costs" heading, but it may have been too late for customer confidence.
The troublesome powerplant was replaced with a Volvo B18 engine in the Facel III, but the damage was done. Production was stopped in 1963 and despite the vision of it being a "volume" car, only 1,100 were produced - still enough to make this Facel's highest production number. Facel lost money on every car they built, with the luxury car side of the company being supported entirely by the other work done by Facel Metallon.
The small Facellia met with little success and the losses from this, due to strong competition at the luxury end of the market, killed off the business which closed its doors at the end of October 1964. What was, according to some, the best small Facel, the Facel 6, which used an Austin-Healey 2.8-litre engine, came too late to save the company with fewer than 30 having been produced when the financial guarantors withdrew their support.
We are very pleased to offer for sale this Facel Vega Facellia restoration project, with metal work started several years ago, unfinished and unfortunately incomplete with missing original motor and its interiors.
The vehicle is offered with Portuguese registration.
It can be viewed by appointment in Portugal