A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £63,800
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Founded by Jean Daninos in 1939, Forges et Ateliers de Construction d'Eure-et-Loir (FACEL) originally specialised in the production of aircraft materials before the outbreak of war in 1939. After World War II, Facel distributed car bodies to Panhard, Simca and Ford France. It would not be until 1954 that Facel began to manufacture its own vehicle, the Facel Vega FV, which was unveiled at the Paris Salon in 1954. Crippling legislation immediately after the war made it virtually impossible for luxurious cars to be manufactured in France, but despite this, Jean Daninos was passionate about reigniting the romance of lavishly glamorous French motoring.
With no post-war European power unit available that would suitably complement the magnificent luxurious interior and exterior of his new creation, Daninos turned to the 276 cubic inches (4.5-litre) De Soto Firedome V-8. This was a dependable engine, with a 7.5:1 compression ratio and pushrod-operated overhead valves, pushing out 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and capable of propelling this imposing piece of French architecture to a top speed of 130mph. Despite the staggering $7,000 asking price at launch, buyers were still flocking to take ownership of Daninos beautiful creation.
Later developments saw the introduction, in 1956, of the Facel Vega FVS, further evolving into the all-new HK500 in 1959. Mechanically, the HK500 was very similar to its predecessors. The chassis was designed by Lance Macklin, a tubular frame featuring independent front suspension coils and wishbones, whilst at the rear, a live axle is held in place by longitudinal semi-elliptic springs. The chosen engine to power the next chapter in Facel history was the most famous of them all, the 383 cubic inch V-8, which produced a thundering 360bhp and a claimed top speed of 147mph. Through this outstanding combination of alluring styling and significant power, the Facel Vega HK500 legend was born.
Right-hand drive chassis ‘HK1 BY4’ was supplied new in the UK by Woking Motors Ltd and sold to a Mrs Newman of Danesfield Cottage, Woking, who registered it ‘4 SPH’ on 1st December 1960. Finished in Brunswick Blue with grey interior, the car was recorded as Body No. 770/Engine No. TY7 4731 (6286cc) and was equipped with power steering, automatic transmission and the standard 3.31 rear axle ratio. The Facel’s 2nd owner, from February 1965 at 23,000 miles, was Stafford Patents & Holdings Limited, 6 Justice Walk, SW3. Re-registered ‘7959 PE’, it was next owned by one P S Beale, of Burwood Park, Walton-on-Thames and subsequently, in the early 1970s, by a Mr Edwards of Thistleton, Rutland.
During the mid-1970s, the car passed through various UK dealers before being shipped to Los Angeles, where it resurfaced in the mid-1980s owned by one Mark Morgan. Morgan traded it to West Coast Facel expert Roger Spaulding, who undertook a partial restoration. The car returned to the UK circa 1988 when Roger Spaulding sold it to Nigel Cooper in London who carried out a more extensive restoration of 'CSK 524' (as it now was) before being sold in superb condition to Ray Barrett of Chiswick, who reputedly paid a UK-record price for an HK500. We understand that during Mr Barrett’s ownership the Facel was invited to appear on the BBC’s Top Gear. Accompanying invoices issued by Nigel Cooper Restorations, Solent Vintage Engineering and coachbuilder Rod Jolley total over £100,000.
Correspondence on file shows that by January 2000, ‘CSK 524’ was in the ownership of Mr Colin Smith of Whiteshill, Gloucestershire from whom it was purchased by Barry Burnett in 2007. Shortly afterwards, the Facel was damaged by fire and classed as an insurance write-off (Category D). The damage, however, appeared mainly cosmetic and was confined to areas of paintwork, the windscreen and a small part of the headlining. This damage was not the result of an engine fire and, if we had to guess, looks like a flammable liquid has caught alight at various points on the paintwork! The car continued to run and drive and it was thought that it would take relatively little work to reinstate. The car's owner at the time accepted the insurance payout and they subsequently offered it to auction through Bonhams in 2009, where it was purchased by our vendor. His intention was to restore the Facel but other projects have got in the way and it's time for someone else to consider the project. It has a current UK V5C, however, it was last MOT'd in December 2008.
As can be seen from our video, the Facel runs and drives. The aluminium brightwork is good and just needs polishing and the grille, headlights and appropriate wiring are with the car. The current owner was intending to complete the restoration with a bare metal respray, new windscreen, rubbers, carpets and headlining etc. as it's a very good base for a restoration considering it was previously regarded as one of the finest available having been restored by the best in the business (Nigel Cooper, Rod Jolley etc).
Adored for its charm and style, the Facel Vega HK500 captivated the hearts of the masses, with numerous celebrities taking ownership of this pinnacle of French elegance. This is a great opportunity to add another chapter to the story of CSK 524.
Video of the Facel Vega HK500