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1954-1964 Facel Vega

1962, 1963, 1964 Facel II V-8
Best of the V-8 Facel Vegas was the Facel II V-8, introduced for model year 1962. Essentially, it was a reskinned HK-500 on the same wheelbase and powered by the same Chrysler 383, but the deft and elegant styling changes make it perhaps the most desirable of all Jean Daninos' creations.

This new 2+2 did away with clichés like the wrapped windshield, and looked more impressive because it was six inches longer overall than the HK-500. Light-alloy knock-off disc wheels or Borrani-Rudge wires were offered.

1962 Facel II V-8
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Facel II (1962 shown) was the last and best of the firm's Franco-American V-8 GTs.

At only 3,400-3,600 pounds, the Facel II was lighter than its predecessors and thus the quickest Facel in history. Road tester Bernard Cahier, for example, achieved a true 140 mph and clocked 0-100 mph at 17 seconds.

Daninos was a small man physically, and the Facel II cockpit reflected his personal considerations. The steering wheel sits in one's lap, pedals and controls are within reach of anyone, and the upright front seats have fixed backrests.

(On the Excellence, foot-rests were built into the rear of the front seat cushions for short people to brace themselves -- no doubt Daninos found himself back there on occasion, behind an enthusiastic French test driver.)

You face the usual large tachometer and speedometer and can consult five additional instruments -- fuel level, coolant temperature, oil pressure, amps, and oil temperature -- plus a clock, in the center of the dash per previous practice.

1962 Facel II interior cabin.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 1962 Facel II cabin was jazzier but still understated.

All gauges have straightforward white-on-black markings, and there are little hoods on the small ones to forestall reflections. The rear seat was strictly "occasional" on all Facel Vegas, but it folds down on the Facel II to make a platform for luggage.

The front compartment is spacious, however, and the glassy superstructure makes for excellent visibility in every direction. It isn't very hard to imagine putting in many long, effortless miles behind the wheel of a Facel II.

On the road, the Facel II feels incongruously like a big American sedan. The Chrysler engine grumbles softly, and the car's smoothness and relative heft are readily apparent. Definite oversteer reinforces this impression, though owners say this can be corrected by varying tire pressures.

With its quick and precise power steering, the Facel II handles well, tracking smoothly through high-speed turns and sticking ably in tight corners. Certainly it was the best of the breed. Alas, it would be the last of the V-8 Facel GTs, and only 182 were built for model years 1962-1964.

And with that, we consider the last Facel Vega, on the next page.

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