Facel Vega HK-500 Body & Chassis Restoration
The bodywork and chassis of this fabulous Facel Vega HK-500 were restored to top condition for a client by Amicale Facel Holland. The automobile was stored in pieces for many years in a dry garage. The bodywork was cut in pieces to save space; The front end, the rear end, and the roof arrived in our workshop as a big puzzle and the floor was missing. The bonnet did not properly fit, we found that a Facel Vega Excellence bonnet without HK-500 air-scoop was included with the car. The restoration started by mounting the body parts on the original chassis to reconstruct the bodywork with the correct dimensions and fit. To speed up the sheet metal work, AFH had all the missing, and the repair sheet metal panels, laser cutted from their archive HK-500 CAD files. Another HK-500 was available to check the original details while reconstructing the bodywork. In July 2021 the restoration of the bodywork, the chassis, and the suspension was finished, and the glass and Stainless Steel body trim fitted. The restoration will be completed by the client.
This Facel Vega HK-500 body was the worst base for restoration we had at Amicale Facel Holland since 1995. Hereby we present an extensive photo report of this very thorough body restoration!
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