The advertising slogan for the Facel Vega HK500 put it in a nutshell: “For the Few Who Own the Finest”. The few included Pablo Picasso, Ringo Starr, Tony Curtis, Ava Gardner, Joan Fontaine and Maurice Trintignant. Stirling Moss spurned air travel in favour of driving his HK500 from race to race. Costing more than a Mercedes Gullwing and three times as rare, the HK500 exuded opulent exclusivity from every stunningly handsome pore.
The brainchild of French industrialist and designer Jean Daninos, the Facel Vega marque was born in 1954 in a bid to keep Paris on the map as a centre of automotive excellence at a time when great French marques like Delahaye, Delage, Talbot Lago and Panhard were being driven to the wall by punitive government taxes on high performance vehicles.
Aimed squarely at the export market and launched in 1958, the HK500 was the most powerful Facel yet, initially fitted with a 5.9-litre Chrysler V8 that was soon supplanted by an even bigger 6.3-litre unit that pumped out a colossal 360bhp and 425 lbs-ft of torque.
Tested by Motor magazine, the car topped out at 145mph, hit 60mph in 8.4 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds.
Styled by Daninos, engineered by Jacques Brasseur and with a chassis developed by Lance Macklin of HWM racing fame, the HK500 went as well as it looked with a fit and finish that was second to none. Rust-resistant stainless steel was used for brightwork, while a lavish passenger cabin was trimmed in the finest leathers with a fabulous aircraft-like dashboard that looked like wood but was in fact painted stainless steel. Only 490 examples were made before production was phased out in 1961 to make way for the Facel II.
This example of the Facel Vega HK500 recently uncovered and fresh to the market from long-term single family ownership, is finished in maroon with brown interior. The car is a unique barn find having been out or circulation for many years having been purchased by the current vendors father before being subject to long term storage. This example of the stunning French Grand Routier certainly a prospect any serious collector looking for a worth-while project.