1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe

by Mar 27, 2019

Photos Courtesy RM Sotheby's

1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe

by Mar 27, 2019

Photos Courtesy RM Sotheby's

YEAR

1958

MODEL

Vega FVS Series 4

MANUFACTURER

Facel

ESTIMATE (US)

$140,000 - $160,000

CHASSIS NUMBER

FVSNY253

AUCTION COMPANY

RM Sotheby's

AUCTION DATE

March 29-30, 2019

Born of a French manufacturer of a wide-ranging list of pressed steel components, Facel Vega was established as an auto manufacturer in 1954 by Jean Daninos, a former Citroen engineer who also served in the aircraft industry, both in France and the United States. At the conclusion of World War II, Facel S.A. began to build auto bodies for a variety of companies, including Ford, Simca, Panhard, and Delahaye. But as the Fifties rolled around, new design and manufacturing techniques led to a serious decline in the work Facel secured from carmakers, so Daninos decided that the company should build its own cars.

Rather than designing and manufacturing engines, Daninos intelligently decided to turn to an outside source, and he settled on the 276-cubic-inch DeSoto Firedome V-8. With a compression ratio of 7.5:1, hemispherical combustion chambers, and pushrods operating its overhead valves, this Chrysler-built engine delivered 180 horsepower at 4,500 rpm. The new car’s body was designed by Jacques Brasseur with significant input from Daninos. Dubbed the Facel Vega, it made its debut at the 1954 Paris auto salon and immediately won praise for its understated yet elegant design. The thin-pillared greenhouse has an airy lightness about it, and brightwork was kept to a tasteful minimum. The interior’s comprehensive gauges and lever-operated controls showed the company’s aeronautic influences.

The new model was a hit in luxury circles, production ramped up, and Facel Vegas became a status symbol in Europe, North America, and the Far East. But due to severe taxes on high-displacement engines, France was not particularly friendly to the Facel Vega, and it is estimated that more than three-quarters of the cars were exported.

In 1956, the car was the subject of significant changes. As new Chrysler V-8 engines were introduced, Facel rapidly incorporated the powerplants. The car also received several styling changes, including the addition of a wraparound windshield, a mid-Fifties fad particularly in America. And though Facel Vegas were assembled in France, they had an American-car feel to them.

This example is said to be one of seven ordered by famed New York importer Max Hoffman in late 1957. It is powered by a 340-horsepower, 354-cubic-inch Chrysler 300 Hemi V-8 with dual four-barrel carburetors. Like many Facel Vegas, it uses a two-speed PowerFlite automatic transmission. Four-wheel power disc brakes are a later alteration to the car. Fewer than 100 Facel Vega FVS models were manufactured for 1958, and this one was a best-in-class winner at the 2013 Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance.

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