What’s the easiest way to identify an automaker’s best car? Just look at what the head honcho is driving.
A Facel Vega Facel II prototype once owned by the French marque’s founder, Jean Daninos, will be auctioned off next month by RM Sotheby’s as part of its Villa Erba sale. The exquisite grand tourer is just another reminder that being in charge comes with some serious perks.
Facel Vega may have gone out of business nearly 60 years ago, but it retains an ardent fanbase. The brand’s last hurrah, the Facel II, is a big part of the reason why. Built between 1962 and 1964, the automaker’s last two years of operation, the two-door marked a return to the French coachbuilding tradition. It was more capable than the already impressive HK500 it was based on and significantly more attractive thanks to an ultra-sleek body that featured a striking front fascia, shorter roof and rear quarter panel. Despite catching the attention of some of the era’s biggest names—including Pablo Picasso, Christian Dior and Ava Gardner—only 183 examples rolled off the line before the company closed up shop.
The Facel II prototype was actually built in 1959 but wasn’t registered under Daninos’s name until February 1965, just months after the manufacturer shut down, according to the auction house. It features a classic Noire over Noire color scheme, with lots of polished wood and chrome visible throughout the cabin. There’s no mention of the vehicle’s engine in the documentation that accompanies the listing, but it is likely more powerful than the 6.27-liter Chrysler Typhoon found in the HK500 that produced 385 hp. Whatever the mill is, it’s mated to a desirable Pont-à-Mousson four-speed manual gearbox. The car’s current owner spent two years having the car restored and because of that, it looks to be in impeccable shape.
The Facel II cost $12,000 (or the equivalent of $120,000 today) when it launched in the early ’60s and remains an expensive car, regularly selling for around $200,000, according to Hagerty. This particular example should easily break that barrier when it comes up for auction on Saturday, May 20. In fact, RM Sotheby’s expects the car to fetch between $750,000 and $1.1 million when it goes up for bid.
Ready to start summer in high gear? There’s still time to join Robb Report’s 2023 California Coastal Rally, June 4 through 8. For more information, or to register, visit here.
Click here for more photos of the 1959 Facel Vega Facel II Prototype.