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1954-1964 Facel Vega

1956 Facel Vega FVS

Daninos had to export the 1956 Facel Vega FVS to survive, and he chose California as his prime target and Charles Hornburg, the west coast Jaguar distributor, as his sales outlet.

Later, for the east coast market, he signed up Max Hoffman, the godfather of the import car business in the U.S., who introduced Americans to more European marques than everybody else combined. Hoffman Motors continued to sell Facels until 1963.

1956-1957 Facel Vega FVS dashboard.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The FVS "wood" dash was actually painted metal, though very realistic. Full instrumentation was included.

With the U.S. market in good hands, Daninos launched a refined Facel Vega in 1956. Designated "FVS," it was powered by a 330-cid Chrysler hemi belting out 225 bhp and was distinguished -- if that's the word -- by an American-inspired wraparound windshield.

Though the extreme dogleg A-pillars raised knee welts from Palm Beach to Beverly Hills, it didn't much bother the Beautiful People who doted on and drove the beasts. Indeed, they were the only ones who could afford to.

The FVS reintroduced a unique dashboard treatment first tried with the Facel-Bentleys: what appeared to be highly polished burl walnut was, in reality, painted metal. It was the best sham woodwork ever manufactured. It even crinkled with age like the real thing.

Another surprise was the dashboard "glovebox," which was nothing of the sort -- just a hinged plate containing a vanity mirror. The true gloveboxes were built into the door panels.

Like all Facel products, the FVS was properly instrumented, with a large speedo and tach supplemented by five minor gauges. Chrysler influence was evident in the heater controls with their huge chrome knobs, as well as the push-button transmission selector on automatic cars.

Facel charged a minimum $7,500 for the FVS. One reason the price was so high was that the company had to pay double duty, first on the arrival of the Chrysler bits in France, then on the arrival of completed cars in the country of sale.

A temporary import permit for the Chrysler parts might have been arranged, but Facel never thought of it. These were car nuts, not customs agents. On the next page, let's do a road test of Facel Vegas from 1956 to 1959.

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