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Facel Véga Facellia F2B Coupé in the driving report: Facel Végas coffin nail

Hardy Mutschler
Facel Véga Facellia F2B Coupé in the driving report
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The BB was pregnant. In 1959, France's sex bomb Brigitte Bardot had an additional curve in the front at an unusual point. Her bulging belly revealed that offspring would soon be in the house. Jean Daninos is also expecting offspring, although there have been no physical changes in him. Because it was a very different offspring - the F acel Véga Facellia.

The (nightmarish) dream of the French heart

Daninos was the founder of the Facel company, whereby the Name derived from the long name Forges et Ateliérs de Construction d'Eure et de Loire. Before the Second World War, the company produced tools for the aircraft industry, later kitchen and office equipment and of course bodies such as for Simca or Ford. In 1954, Daninos founded the Facel Véga car brand, whereby Véga refers to a star of the same name that is particularly radiant.

Facel Véga enriched the automotive world with extremely expensive luxury cars with a sporty character, the temperament of which was provided by a large-volume V-eight cylinder made in America. But that's exactly what Daninos didn't like any more than Coca Cola with breakfast croissant. He dreamed of a car with a French heart - but at first he couldn't find a suitable organ donor.

The selected press representatives and guests to whom Daninos presented his new baby at a small press conference in Paris at the end of September 1959 were all the more amazed - a chic open two-seater, which hid an attractive-looking two-camshaft four-cylinder engine with Facel Véga lettering on the valve cover under the front hood - the Facel Véga Facellia. The secret of the sudden appearance of this machine remained unsolved at this appointment. Those present only learned that the cross-flow cylinder head made of aluminum had been developed in cooperation with Weslake.

As it turned out later, the engineer Carlo Marchetti and Jean Cavallier, who once worked for Talbot-Lago, had the engine of the Facel Véga Facelliarealized. Cavallier managed the Pont-à-Mousson plant, which Facel was already supplying with gearboxes. Daninos christened his dream come true Facellia, and he hoped to attract as many new customers as possible with this little beauty.

Facel Véga's unique design language

Christian Diemer is someone who finds the Facel Véga Facellia as attractive today as Daninos back then, because it is not an American but a French soul. Together with Volker Dalheimer, he runs a workshop for vintage cars in Saarbrücken, which, among other things, deals intensively with vehicles of the Facel Véga brand. He owns the Facellia you can see on these pages, which was kidnapped for a photo session in nearby France.

The degree of awareness of this exotic product seems to be much higher there than in this country. At least with older people, whom the Facellia slowly rolls past in the small village of Hombourg-Haute, the word Facel can be read off the lips. Whether HK 500, Excellence, Facel II or Facel Véga Facellia, chief engineer Jacques Brasseur has managed to design all models in such a way that the viewer recognizes them as members of the same family. The front alone, with the three radiator grille elements and the vertical headlights, is as characteristic as the lush nose for the then French President Charles de Gaulle.

The attentive reader should not have missed the fact that initially only a facel véga facellia when the talk was about convertible. In fact, a coupé with a wide rear roof pillar only followed a few months later, while the four-seater variant with the roof pulled far back and the stubby rear appeared at the Paris Salon in autumn 1960.

The gain in interior space in this Facellia F2 Coupé was in the eyes of many at the expense of attractiveness, but by no means extravagance. And it was fine like that. The big Facel Véga easily took on a Maserati or Aston Martin in terms of price - so the small 1.6-liter Facellia couldn't be a special offer either. In 1962, for example, the price of around 20,000 marks exceeded that of a Mercedes 190 SL by 4,000 marks.

Luxury in the interior

But what did the buyer of a Facel Véga Facellia get in return? First of all, there is the simple, yet elegantly shaped body, which ends in two delicate, rounded tail fins. The filigree, elongated rear light glasses are integrated into it, hardly wider than the thumb of a veteran bodyworker. Almost all glossy parts such as bumpers and trim are made of stainless steel.

The first glance after getting in is the neat instrument panel of the Facel Véga Facellia, apparently a masterpiece made of fine wood, which stretches across the entire width of the interior without any curves and is unusually largeKeeps a distance from the passengers, resulting in a generous feeling of space. Connoisseurs know that on closer inspection, the wood turns out to be a perfect illusion. Daninos had a soft spot for metal, and chief varnisher Marcel Bigot devised a special painting technique to give cold metal the appearance of warm precious wood.

But even knowing this trick does not affect the feeling of luxury in the interior of the Facel Véga Facellia, which is light thanks to the generous glazing. This is ensured by the numerous chrome-rimmed Jaeger instruments, the fine toggle switches and the chrome-plated levers for heating and ventilation that appear to be carved from one solid piece.

Even the passengers in the rear, who shouldn't be too big, enjoy details such as the ashtrays in the bulges on the sides, which are illuminated by lights above. However, the Facel Véga Facellia driver has to put up with the fact that his leather seat does not give him any lateral support and that the rear-view mirror on the instrument panel impairs his view.

The Facel engine needs to be turned

And the driving impression of the Facel Véga Facellia? The steering works easily and directly. On the other hand, the robust four-speed gearbox requires a certain amount of effort to insert the precisely defined gear stages. With an empty weight of around 1,100 kilos, the Facellia is not exactly an easy girl, but it is noticeably nimble on country roads than the 600 kilos heavier V8 models. They impress more with their brute power, as they are said to have torn paving stones out of the road when accelerating.

The 115 hp of the Facel Véga Facellia four-cylinder, measured according to the SAE standard, are of course not enough. The unit, which is reminiscent of an Alfa engine in terms of its construction, appears somewhat sluggish in the lower speed range. If you want to be fast, which supports safe driving characteristics, you have to turn the engine. Then there is also a sporty background noise, but the associated volume soon curbs an all too brisk accelerator. Country road tours at 80 to 110 km /h, with 3,500 rpm in fourth gear, are enjoyable in the Facellia, while you want at least an overdrive for highway driving.

The original engine was the downfall of Facel Véga

The engine in Diemer's Facel Véga Facellia runs without any problems, because it is the revised version introduced at the end of 1960 with modified pistons, liners, reduced compression and an optimized cooling circuit. Because the original engine turned out to be a disaster at the time, it was not fully developed. This resulted in massive amounts of damage that damaged its reputation at an early stage and ultimately plunged the company into ruin. The rescue attempts with engines from other manufacturers such as Volvo in the Facel IIIcame too late.

Daninos had no luck with his offspring Facellia, nor did the BB. While she was to blame for not wanting to know anything about her son, Daninos did everything for the new family member Facel Véga Facellia. But it wasn't enough.

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