American Power: 1959 Facel Vega HK500

1959 Facel Vega HK500

There’s no question that European manufacturers are skilled at building beautiful cars that are fun to drive, but they just couldn’t build engines like American manufacturers did in the ’50s and ’60s. And that’s why I love the Facel Vega HK500 so much! You get a French built car with incredible European styling, lovely handling and a proper grand touring interior, but you also get a Chrysler 383 V8 and a Torqueflite transmission. Talk about a great combo! This barn find ’59 HK500 is in need of a ton of work, but would sure be fun to have!

1959 Facel Vega Engine

The HK500 was introduced in ’59 and the big change from the FVS was the upgrade to the 360 horsepower 383. The added power improved top speed, acceleration and made it an even nicer top speed cruiser. While it certainly isn’t a modern supercar, for the time period this had to seem like a supercar at the time! Even by today’s standards, these are fast cars.

1959 Facel Vega HK500 Interior

This car has apparently been in storage for the past 35 years and subsequently needs everything. The seller claims it is complete and all there, but every inch of this car needs work. It also will need to be shipped to the States, unless you live in Europe that is. If you’d love to own this French beauty, you can find it here on eBay in Redhill, United Kingdom with an impressive buy-it-now of $65k!

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Comments

  1. Bobsmyuncle

    These are lovely vehicles, great visual balance of beauty and muscle.

  2. Nighttrainx03

    This a great looking car. Never seen or heard of one before. Is it my imagination or does the side view of this car especially the roof line resemble a C1 Corvette?

  3. Henrie

    I am surprised that you don’t mention that the dashboard is not real wood , but is hand painted in the factory.

  4. Roger Owen

    First one of these I ever saw was in Paris outside their office in 1963 (got a B&W Box Brownie photo somewhere). Beautiful looking car. Not a cheap restoration, although the interior looks better than the engine bay.

  5. Van

    I remember when these were cheep.
    I didn’t appriciate them then.
    I didn’t look close enough.
    The style seems similar to a try 5 chevy that everyone seemed to think was great.
    When you like English cars chevys didn’t have any finesse.

    Like 1
  6. Rando

    This is a car Wayne Carini on Chasing Classic Cars would be after. I think he looked at one at some point. I had to look to see when the 383 went into production. Didn’t realize the B and RB blocks started in 59.

  7. Howard A Member

    Always been leery of a car with the name “Vega” in it ( although, I thought the Chevy Vega was a good car, when maintained properly) These always looked more British than French, and the early one’s had Hemi’s. That transmission hump looks a little lonely without a shifter ( note push buttons at lower right of steering wheel). I wonder if you could even get a manual with this. I’d think THAT would be fun. Certainly is rare, and better have deep pockets. Restored, they bring 6 figures, so it’s there. Very cool find, if just for the dreamers. I think it’s very much a “super car”, and would give anything built today a run for their money.

    • Bill McCoskey

      These were available with a 4-speed gearbox from Pont-a-mousson in France. This was the same 4-speed initially available in the big Chrysler 300 letter series cars & a few other Chryslers. I remember finding a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker 4-door hardtop station wagon equipped with the dual 4 carb setup and the Pont-a-mousson 4-speed. It also had dual A/C! The owner had bought it to tow a large boat.

      • Keith

        Hey Bill,
        As the owner of a 61 300G, and a pretty heavy follower of Chryslers of that era, i’ve never heard of a New Yorker wagon with the Pont-a-mousson 4 speed and dual quads so I’m very curious about that! You don’t happen to have any pics or anything of that wagon do you? That would have to be something like a 1 of 1. Any details on that?
        Keith

  8. Horse Radish

    Why would you TRY to offer a RHD car on Ebay USA, when all the money is selling collector cars in Europe.
    If you want to address the RHD market, then offer it in Singapore or Australia.

    Very strange, for both financial or logistic reasons, unless you’re completely clueless or have something to hide (long distance internet sales to gullible buyers….)

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Are you serious? What an absurd leap in logic.

    • Ross W. Lovell

      . Greetings All,

      Horse Radish, you ever try to export a car to Australia? Are you even aware of their restrictions which are even more numerous on cars not currently registered.

      More money + more people. =. more prospective buyers for this car.

      U.S. IS the market.

    • Horse Radish

      I guess the two responses have come from US people who have no clue, what people in Europe pay for top investment classic cars.

      @Bobsmyuncle:
      Explain to me what YOUR so-called logic is and why mine would be absurd. Seems your lacking ANY (but one) perspective

      @ Russ
      When ever I see cars selling in the US they go to Europe and usually dealers buying them to offer them for even more money. Maybe in that sense you’re right that European buyers will buy on E-bay US, but I bet it will not go there.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        You want ME to explain MY logic?

        You are the one suggesting a scam because a right hand drive car is being listed on eBay US.

        That’s the extent of energy I’ll expend on this foolishness.

      • Ross W. Lovell

        . Greetings All,

        HorseRadish, it’s Ross, not Russ.

        Re read my second paragraph. I’ll repeat for you.

        More money + more people = more prospective buyers.

        Free Market Rules, real simple.

      • Horse Radish

        Oooohhh, foolishness ??, because you are reading something out of my post that IS NOT THERE.
        I can see why you wouldn’t want to explain YOUR logic.
        I never said ‘scam’. I was just suggesting less than intelligent actions by the person listing this on the wrong continent, with wrong steering sonfiguration.
        Don’t put it on me when you scream “bloody murder”, when, at best, I’m suggesting Forrest Gump walking along.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        “… or have something to hide (long distance internet sales to gullible buyers….)”

        Really?

  9. Brad

    Love ’em. The big slab of a dash reminds me of El Capitan in Yosemite – all business.

  10. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Brad, that “big slab of dash” is a piece of painted metal. They continued the tradition that some of the American automakers used with woods raining the dash.

    Actually had someone bring one to me as they knew I did wood on Jaguars and othe Brit cars. He wanted to know how to keep it well and I told him don’t scratch it.

    It was pretty impressively executed.

    Nice car, surprised by the quality though the metal work was below average for the era compared to American iron, but above average for French. Must be e low build numbers.

    • Brad

      “He wanted to know how to keep it well and I told him don’t scratch it.”
      Ha! Sound advice.

      It’s beautifully done, as most everything was back then. Glad you are (or were) helping keep that craftsmanship alive. Nothing more beautiful than woodgrain in cars, either painted or the real thing.

    • Bill McCoskey

      The Facel-Vega was built by one of the largest metal fabricating companies of Europe; Facel-Metallon. They made everything from kitchen sinks to complete car bodies for Simca. they had some of the finest metal working guys making the Facel-Vega cars. Instead of chrome plated steel for trim parts, all bright work was highly polished cast or stamped stainless steel, including the cast bumpers!

  11. Bill McCoskey

    Back when they were not worth much, I had a 1961Facel-Vega Excellence, a 4-door hardtop version of the Facel-Vega coupes. The rear doors were hinged in the rear, like the 1961 Lincoln. But unlike the Lincoln, the Excellence had no center post, the 4 doors latching into special pin latches in the floor. And yes, the dash wood is hand painted aluminum [or since this car shown is from the UK, that would be “aluminium” I believe!]

  12. Bill McCoskey

    Here’s a photo showing the interior of the Excellence and the latches in the floor.

  13. Bill McCoskey

    Many American car enthusiasts haven’t a clue of what it costs to bring a vehicle from North America to Europe. Depending on the country, the importation taxes can easily top 15 to 17.5 percent. And that is not a percentage of what the declared purchase price was in the USA, but what the government in Europe decides it’s worth IN EUROPE. And each time something sells in Europe, there is a very heavy sales tax, known as the “value added tax”, again around 15% to 17.5%.

    And in Europe, there is NO exemption for wholesale sales, the VAT is added at each stage of the manufacturing process. Henry Ford once claimed that over 80% of the cost of one of his cars in the UK was from taxes.

    Years ago I sold a “one of a kind” vehicle to Germany for about $12,000. The German importation authorities rules the car was worth about $40,000, and claimed they had 5 other identical cars that were worth over $40,000. When challenged, they refused to provide paperwork, claiming the 5 other sales were a matter of public view already. The new owner sent the car back to me on consignment, rather than pay the taxes & government fees that exceeded what he paid for the car.

    n the late 1980s when I was working in Barbados, I wondered why there were no new cars in the dealership showrooms. When I went to the Jeep dealer I found that each car was charged an importation tax of 161%, making a new Cherokee’s price well over $70,000. And that 161% figure was a tax on anything not made in the “CariCom” [Caribbean Community]. A bottle of Mount Gay rum made in Barbados cost less than a US made box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes! When I needed tires for our Isuzu pickup, I brought them in, 2 at a time, inside my luggage, my clothing packed in & around the tires! [In Barbados the $45 tires were about $500 each!]

  14. Bill McCoskey

    Keith – That New Yorker wagon sat in the weeds next to a house that looked like it had not been lived in for years, in the Washington DC suburb of Adelphi, near Powder Mill Road & University Blvd. As a fan of 50’s big Mopar cars, I went bonkers over this car, and tried to find out who owned it. I even checked property tax records, but the owner was listed as a law office, and they wouldn’t discuss it.

    It was a low mileage car, that had sat outside under trees for many years, & was in pretty sorry shape at that time. A neighbor told me the guy who owned it had died years ago, and the property sold, with plans to put up a commercial building there. Driving past one more time in the early 80s, the house & car were gone.

    The car was light blue with a white top, blue interior. As I recall, it was fully loaded with options, but I don’t think it had swivel seats. At that time it was terribly rusted everywhere, and as my chief mechanic had a 300e [and other letter cars & Imperials], we were looking at it as a parts car. The transmission hump had a huge bulky “box” to the left side, with the shifter sticking out the top, it was obvious that it was a factory install, but without the console like a 300 had, it just looked weird! I suspect it had bucket seats because I don’t think the bench seat would have fit due to the transmission hump shifter box.

    Thinking back, if the car had been sitting with it’s front end pointing out, and the tires inflated [or it was a letter series 300], I might have attached my tow bar to the bumper, hooked my ’56 Imperial Southampton hardtop to it, and towed it the few miles to my shop. I’m sure the neighbors would have been happy to see that “junked car” leave.

    But it was only a wagon . . .

  15. Keith

    Wow Bill that’s an amazing story. From they way you describe the trans up setup that does sound like a factory install. Must have been bizarre to see that sitting there without a console though. Now that wagons are becoming so popular (I’ve always had a thing for them) that one would have been the star of the show. Must have had a very interesting back story as well. I’d imagine it’s now either been crushed or sitting forgotten in the back lot area of some wrecking yard, but that’s the fate of more old cars than we want to think about right! Thanks for the info, that’s one for my books!
    Keith

  16. Jim

    They are interesting cars but $65l wow, I can’t imagine it being worth that much taking into account it’s condition.

  17. Bill McCoskey

    Jim — One of reasons it will likely sell at that price is it is RHD. Very few Facel-Vega cars were RHD. Most serious collectors in the UK, Japan, Australia, or other countries with RHD will want a RHD car, and most will be willing to pay a fairly high premium for RHD. Most Americans don’t realize that there are more RHD vehicles made in the world each year, than LHD vehicles.

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