This 1958 Facel Vega coupe has not been seen in public or ever sold at auction in its 55 years living in Texas. Part of a 300-unit run in total, the FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe is widely viewed as the most elegant and successful car from this fledging Parisian automaker. Powered by the potent Chrysler 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 from the 1950s, the Facel Vega has distinctly European elegance in its styling, but proportions that made this car look like a tank versus the mini cars otherwise driven by the French middle class.
Originally advertised as the car “For the Few Who Own the Finest,” Facel Vega’s were ideal transport for the Monaco crowd. A two-speed, pushbutton automatic and Bugatti -quality cabin materials set the tone for a giant price.
A cruiser at heart, the FVS Series 4 Sports Coupe brings together two sides of the Atlantic in a partnership that would spin pure gold for Carroll Shelby when done the other way around.
Shelby brought over a few of the lightest and smallest European roadster he could find, then added a monster American V-8 engine. Facel Vega went a different route, importing the frame chassis and engine of Chrysler 300C to France, before adding custom coachwork outside and in.
Both were big advancements toward international collaboration during a time when even mailing a postcard from New York to Paris took almost 6 weeks to arrive.
This coupe does not major in business lessons, as it was the high point for Facel Vega’s car manufacturing venture. The Facellia replacement was a failure, taking the company and its styling grace with it.
Click past the jump to see more about the 1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe, with exquisite images of its red leather cabin and bespoke luggage.
The exterior styling is completely bespoke to the Facel Vega, despite shared chassis components with Chrysler . The proportions of the Facel Vega are much nicer than the 1957 300C, which ran a much wider and 4-foot-longer body on the same size wheelbase and tracks.
The Facel Vega is then much narrower than the jumbo Chrysler , and also has a nice teardrop trunk - evolving the previous high-dollar Bugatti and Voisin rear ends - but in a modernized and now a much larger shape.
A wraparound windshield glass is deeper than Chrysler could offer, and the pillarless coupe design was special both then and now. Much of the pagoda roof style seen here would later be applied to the Mercedes-Benz 220C and even the CL-Class many years later. The look of the roof pillars and extremely tiny C-pillar almost echoes the styling of modern tent roof designs in architecture, like on the Denver airport or Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina hotel.
Regardless, the roof and trunk create a dramatic style all their own.
The nose is pretty unappealing to modern eyes, with layers of grilles and lights making it look very busy and cluttered. Even so, there was no doubt about getting out of the way if you saw this in you Citroen 2CV’s (optional) rear-view mirror.
1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe - Taillight Detail:
1957 Chrysler 300C, 1958 Facel Vega and 2005 Mercedes-Benz CL600 Image Comparison
The interior is really special. If a Bentley is like a cigar lounge, this is like the Moulin Rouge. Burled walnut forms the entire dash panel, with a huge center console and wood-rimmed steering wheel. The Chrysler Powerflite autobox is controlled by selecting park, reverse, low or high - so it needs the ’High’ button pushed when accelerating up to highway speeds.
Stunning custom luggage came with this car, and the whole interior feels worth the price. A great view and near-cabrio levels of airflow came with the pillarless coupe design, showing off this bordello on wheels to all who see you drive past.
1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe - Custom Luggage Detail:
Drivetrain, Engine and Brakes
The engine was the heart of this car, and what made it so special and desirable versus anything from the very few other French automakers who survived WWII. This engine was almost the top Chrysler , Ford or Chevy engine of the time, bringing 396 cubic inches of power and 345 horsepower. The modern engine measurement is 6.4-liters, explaining the latest SRT Hemi ’s origin.
With a claimed 430 pound-feet of torque, both of the power figures are firmly retro in their accuracy, with actual outputs by modern measurement far lower. Regardless, the Facel Vega feels omnipotent on the road, reaching 60 mph in under 10 seconds before a 130 mph claimed top speed.
Cutting length versus the 300C’s tail fins, the Facel Vega was one of the fastest luxury cars available in the world when it was new.
1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe - Mechanical Details:
|Engine||6.4-liter Chrysler Hemi V-8|
|Transmission||2-Speed Pushbutton Powerflite Automatic|
|Powertrain Layout||Front-engine, Rear-drive||Power||345|
|0-60 mph||9.5, est|
|Top Speed||130, est|
|EPA Fuel Economy MPG (City/Highway/Combined)||12/15/12, est|
Pricing and Availability
Very few Facel Vega’s ever appear in public, and even more rarely are they offered for sale in absolutely pristine condition. Restored just last year, this FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe sold for $302,000 by RM Auctions last month.
Love everything about the Facel Vega concept and styling, especially how influential its pillars and deep stamped panels would be on Mercedes-Benz .
Yes, the nose is a mess but it was the epitome of style and class in its day. The gorgeous and comfortable cabin is on par with anything from Rolls-Royce or Bentley in that time period, which is truly astounding for a new company like Facel Vega.
Low volumes and evolving tastes meant the Facel Vega was not ’en vogue’ for very long. New body styles yearly by the American brands instantly left the FVS Sport Coupe looking staid by the early 1960s. Its replacement would have such mechanical woes as to sink the promising company altogether.
- Delicate roof line is very pretty
- Removing the 300C’s oversized bodywork improves performance and style
- Powerful and giant V-8 with European style. Out of my way, little people!
- Very limited numbers in this good of condition
- Well bought, all signs show an appreciation in value if ever sold or displayed again
1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe: Sold for $302,500
- Chassis no. FV457H41
- Body no. 0207
325 bhp, 354 cu. in. OHV Hemi V-8, dual Carter four-barrel carburetors, Powerflite pushbutton automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal length A-arms, coil springs, and telescopic dampers, live rear axle with longitudinal semi-elliptic springs and telescopic dampers, and four-wheel Lockheed-Bendix hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 104.8 in.
- Restoration completed in 2012
- Two Texas owners from new
- Never publicly shown
Viewed with a decade or two of perspective, the change in France’s automotive scenery from the 1930s to the 1950s was breathtaking. The era of Bugatti, Avions Voisin, Delahaye, and Talbot-Lago abruptly evaporated, until, in the early 1950s, any remnants of that power and style were aberrations. The war was not the only culprit; after all, Jaguar had the XK120 ready almost immediately afterwards, and Ferrari offered the 166 Inter a year after that. Even in Germany, Mercedes-Benz’s 300 series was available in 1951 and the 300SL was available a few years later, with BMW’s 507 on its heels. But, while there were holdouts in France, a crippling tax on engines over 15 chevaux (about 2.9 liters) stifled major French manufacturer’s interest in anything other than small-displacement cars. That left the business of building performance cars to small, independent automakers, such as Jean Daninos’ Facel Vega.
With domestic manufacture of large engines quashed, Facel Vega followed a pattern established by the likes of Delaunay-Belleville before the war, sourcing an American eight-cylinder engine, which had the great advantages of quality and high production numbers. Starting in 1954, their engine of choice was from Chrysler.
As with so many small manufacturers, Facel Vega built their cars in short series, with 10 different models over 10 years. The same decade corresponded with a rapidly developing horsepower race in America, and Facel Vega’s Chrysler V-8s increased from a 172-horsepower, 276-cubic inch DeSoto Firedome to a 354-horsepower, 392-cubic inch Hemi V-8 from the Chrysler 300. Of the approximately 357 Series 2 through Series 4 FVS that Facel Vega built, only 36 are thought to have been equipped with this car’s 325-horsepower dual-quad Typhoon Hemi engine.
Facel Vega’s drivetrain was powerful and largely conventional, but the results were not. Under the beautiful skin of an FVS lurks a fascinating combination of muscle car and GT. It is unhappy when asked to ease off the line, instead requesting the driver to put a foot to the floor and enjoy a sub-10-second 0–60 time. Thank the Hemi’s 430 foot-poundsof torque for moving a 4,100-pound car up to speed so fast. At the same time, handling is surprisingly confident and sporty. With a top speed in the neighborhood of 130 mph, it is supremely exciting when driven properly hard, yet it is also relaxed at highway speeds.
The car offered here was sold new in the Dallas, Texas, area and street driven until 1968, when it was disassembled for restoration. It was still apart when purchased by the consignor, who completed it to show quality in 2012. It includes a full six-piece set of factory luggage, correct wire wheels, Connolly leather, and Wilton wool carpets. The windshield, which was once referred to as “maddeningly” irreplaceable, does not display the common Facel Vega cracks, and the exposed exhaust tips at the other end are not damaged.
In 55 years, with two owners, this car has never been shown or sold publicly, and it might never even have left Texas. As a dual-quad Series 4, it is a rare jewel in its own right, but there are unlikely to be any others making their public debut at this point. It’s as close as one can come to buying a new Facel Vega.