Facel Vega HK-500, 1961 Restoration
Facel Vega HK-500, year 1961. This magnificent HK-500 is chassis number HK1 CG4, the last built HK-500! The car was factory-ordered by an engineering firm from Paris. The first French registration was 6785 LG 75, this was issued on 10 July 1961. From that moment the history is unknown, until the car surfaced on an American auction in the year 2011 where the car was purchased by AFH.
Restoration started in 2020 as the car was fully stripped in preparation of the sheet metal work. Compared to other project cars you can see on these pages, this HK-500 only shows minor rust damage. Only in and around the boot you will find badly rusted edges. The condition of the car as found in the USA was still quite good, we have no idea why the car was put away in storage at a certain moment. The fuel tank was still half full, we found no defects, the interior was still in very nice condition, and the tyres were obviously renewed shortly before the car was stored and forgotten for many years. Shortly, the bodywork will be stripped of paint and all other coatings in a special dipping bath. After that the sheet metal work will be carried out. The chassis will be sand blasted and then stove enamel coated.
To be continued.
This HK-500 features top of the line factory specifications: 6.2 litre (383 cui) Chrysler Wedge V8 engine, two “four-barrel” Carter AFB carburettors, 4-speed Pont à Mousson manual gearbox and disc brakes around. Originally fitted with power windows and His Masters Voice (HMV) radio. Original colours: Tudor grey combined with a beige leather upholstery and beige carpet.
The Facel Vega HK 500 was considered by Jean Daninos himself as the best Facel ever built. The HK 500 was, for a long time, the fastest fours seater production line automobile in the world with a top speed of an amazing 240 kilometers per hour (with manual gear shift).
The Facel Vega HK 500 is an extremely luxurious car with a gorgeous finish and beautiful details. The interior is majestic with it’s mock walnut (in the French tradition) dashboard and beautifully chromed handles and switches. The leather upholstery is of an exceptionally high quality the comfort it offers reflects this. The car comes with all of the novelties which were common on the American market at the time. The robustly built automatic windows and the gear shift with it’s stylish buttons are extremely reliable and never fail. Chrome was used sparingly on the HK 500; the bumpers, mirrors and side strips are all constructed of stainless steel. The vehicle is built upon a welded steel chassis within which the strong 6.2 Litre Chrysler V8 is mounted. The undercarriage has independent wheel suspension with coil springs at the front and a live axle leaf spring suspension system at the rear. From 1960 onwards, the HK 500 was equipped with disc brakes all round.
6.2 litre V8 engine
two Carter "four barrel" carburettors
capacity: 390 bhp. at 5000 rpm.
top speed: 147 mph. -235 km/h.
gearbox: 4-speed, manual
weight: 1880 kg.
Facel Vega history
The French company Facel (Forges et Ateliers de Construction due’s et Loir) was first established in 1938 as a manufacturer of stainless steel products for the aircraft industry. After the second world war Facel began constructing automobile bodies for Simca, Ford France and Panhard.
In those days, the company was under the leadership of Jean Daninos.
Jean Daninos had always dreamt of manufacturing his own design of super car; the "Grand Routier" or in other words, a luxurious, comfortable and practical 4-person sports car. 1954 saw this dream become a reality with the introduction of the first ever Facel automobile onto the market, the Facel Vega FV1, equipped with a powerful and trustworthy American V8 Chrysler motor.
The addition of the Chrysler motor meant that Facel was one of the first manufacturers to combine European styled body work with a big reliable American V8...
The Facel Vega's were expensive and highly exclusive but they sold well, particularly amongst film stars and the rich and famous. With the passage of time the newer models became increasingly more expensive as extra improvements and features were introduced. At the end of the 1950’s, Facel had a motor designed specifically for use in a smaller model, the Facellia.
Unfortunately, these motors had so many teething problems that the huge amount of warranty claims they caused led the company into serious financial difficulties. The last ever models of the Facel line were fitted with Volvo P1800 (Facel III) and Austin Healey 150 pk six cylinder motors ( Facel 6). In 1964 this proud automobile finally went out of production.
Facel Vegas are cherished by enthusiasts all over the world to this very day. This extremely unique class of vehicle can easily be placed alongside classic makes such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley en Lagonda. Even though Facel did not manufacture it’s own motors, it is safe to say that the vehicle commonly known as the "Grand Routiers" of automobiles is of absolute top class and continues to leave a deep and lasting impression.
© Marc Vorgers