Rare Hemi-Powered 1956 Facel Vega Barn Find!

Here is the epitome of the barn find, a very rare and valuable car that’s been in long-term storage. It’s a 1956 Facel Vega FV2B, a super-desirable French coach-built coupe with Chrysler 5.4-liter Hemi V-8 power. It’s here on eBay in Sacramento, California with a $125,000 Buy It Now. There’s very little information and only one photo—though a very evocative one. The car is depicted in a large, cluttered warehouse with all kinds of debris—and a yellow Fiat X 1/9 in similar condition—around it. The Facel, seen from afar, looks in reasonable condition under a layer of dust. The hood is up and the engine is in the engine bay. I think I see an interior, and the tires are inflated. We’re told this, “Recently discovered after long-term storage. Starts and runs! This is a super-rare French-made Facel Vega FV2B in need of a restore for sure.” When it’s done, it will look like the lovely car shown below.

Maybe that’s enough information about the condition. Facel Vegas don’t appear on the market all that often. I remember a tidy HK500 I could have bought at Hershey for $4,500, but those days are very long gone. A ’54 Facel Vega FV in Concours condition is rated at $292,000 by Hagerty. This one might need an expensive restoration, but it could still be a good buy. These cars are legendary. French philosopher Albert Camus died in an HK500 when its driver (a/k/a his publisher’s nephew) smashed into a tree circa 1960. The company made pressed steel body parts for cars. After World War II, Facel (Forges et Alteliers de Constructions d’Eure-et-Loir) merged with Métallon and began producing whole bodies for clients, including Panhard, Ford of France, Simca, and the soon-to-expire Delahaye. After Métallon bailed in 1953, Facel began building whole cars, using Chrysler, Volvo (briefly, for the tidy convertible Facellia), and Austin power. Only 2,900 cars were built before the factory closed in 1964. The most important Facel Vega went by various names in a variety of guises, FV, HK500, and Facel Vega II. It was first shown in Paris in October of 1954. The ad identifies the car as a “1956 DeSoto,” which is a stretch. The early Hemi V-8s were sourced from DeSoto. The big, imposing cars had a tubular chassis, double-wishbone suspension up front, and a live axle in the back. Despite nearly 4,000 pounds of weight, the big engine gave them zero to 62 mph acceleration of just under 10 seconds and a 118 mph top speed. The Facel Vegas were mostly pillar-free two-door hardtops, including the car for sale. There were a few convertibles. More than three-quarters of the production came to the U.S. When the FV2B was produced, the vendor says, the company’s “star was rising. Waiting lists were as long as eight months. There was no need for publicity as a Facel sold itself. In 1956, without a dealer involved, the car was sold directly to its first French owner, Gérard Foussier. Eventually, just as happened to many other Facel Vegas, it was shipped to the U.S. The car has matching numbers. Nowadays, it is one of only 40 FV2Bs believed to be still existing.” The DeSoto-sourced Hemi in the ’56 (updated that year) is said to produce 285 horsepower. The ad says the car “ran and drove three years ago,” so presumably getting it started won’t be a big deal. That same year, 1956, Facel started to produce four-door versions. By 1959 the engine grew to 5.8 liters, and eventually to 6.28 Typhoon power. The last gasp, introduced in 1962, was the Facel Vega II, which was redesigned as a lighter and faster car. The sports car, the Facellia, was introduced in 1960 and got the Volvo B18 after its French engine proved unreliable. Facel Vega apparently produced only 74 FV2Bs. So the survival rate is impressive. They never stopped being desirable, so few were junked. The owner leaves us with the notion that the car is “being sold in as-is condition.” I think most buyers able to pay the freight get that.

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Comments

  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    What a weird listing. One picture, basically zero description, and on eBay instead of somewhere like BaT or another auction house where you’d expect a rare car like this to be

    Like 9
    • Tony Primo

      BaT wouldn’t take a listing like this with zero description. Looks more like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist material.

      Like 6
      • wuzjeepnowsaab

        Obviously they would not. What I’m saying is that the seller is putting zero effort into a sale of a six figure car. If they did put in the effort it would be a great BaT car.

        Maybe I was being too succinct, but I’m questioning the entire listing because clearly the seller isn’t ignorant of what the car is.

        Like 10
      • chrlsful

        they’d take the car AND money (its really changed there, I do not visit any more) and write upa cranked out pilea x.x.x.

        For me? these R fantastic cars. Was it here I saw some 1 ruin one to make a vert ? Wealth has its advantages in terms of choice (not all ways outcome tho).

  2. Mike

    This is my favorite car of all time. The first thing I will be looking for after my lottery win. European touring with American grunt. Saw one for sale in the 80’s at a repair shop for $5,500. Told my dad about it and he said “stick with your 914”. Years later, he saw one at a car show and told me “why weren’t you more insistent about talking me into it?” More insistent? I was one step away from putting the keys in your hand and pulling you towards the car to go out to see it. Since then, when my dad questions some of my decisions, all I have to say is “Facel Vega, dad” and he gets quiet.

    Like 32
    • jim motavalli Staff

      The one I saw was $4,500. Nobody talked me out of it; I balked on my own. My dad did refuse to buy me a pristine 1959 Cadillac convertible when I was in high school. The price: $800. “It’s a gas guzzler!” he said.

      Like 8
  3. Will Fox

    These rare beauties are worth $500K+ `in concours condition. While Facel did use Chrysler Hemi V8s, the 392 from 1957 was never used; regular 354 Hemis from New Yorkers were utilized. Primarily they had Dodge/DeSoto smaller displacement Hemis, unless specifically ordered different. One note of correction on these coupes:
    True, they were 2dr. hardtop coupes in that no B-pillar was used. However, the quarter windows in back were fixed–non-functional. So you couldn’t have the full benefit of 4 windows that rolled down. The 4dr. “Excellence” models of `57-`60 were true hardtops with no B-pillar.

    Like 6
  4. Ralph

    I actually found one of these in the back row of a crappy used car dealer in 1978..in Mobile, Alabama of all places. Asking price was $400. (They also had a trashed Europa for the same price.) Had the Hemi but the entire car was trashed, no interior, cracked glass, dented roof. Being young and ignorant I walked away without a second thought. Still no regrets.

    Like 4
    • Mike

      You could have bought it, threw it in a barn, ignored it completely for 40+ years, and pulled it out for a $60k+ payday. Of course, crystal balls were not available back then. If they were, I would have spent my time finding every cheap 50’s 356s out there trashed or not.

      Like 12
  5. Neil

    I recognise this car ! A couple of years ago I was on holiday in California ( from Scotland) and saw a frogeye Sprite for sale on Craigslist ( with no photos ) I arranged to see it, and was directed to a an old granary in the middle of nowhere, where the owner had accumulated 85 cars, including this one – and a few planes too !
    He was a really nice guy, fair to deal with etc.
    I would have loved the Facel, but would never have got that past “management “
    I did buy the frogeye, and imported it back home

    Like 10
    • Dave Peterson

      You sent a Sprite back to Scotland? Reminds me of the “carrying coals to Newcastle”…. Must have been an exceptional car. What part of California?

      Like 1
      • Neil

        Car was up near Sacramento. It had been a racer, and while it had lots of scars, it was rust free – completely! Over here we use salt on the roads in winter and old cars just dissolve

        Like 4
    • Bill McCoskey

      Looking closely at the background areas in the single photo, on the top level of a steel rack system is what appears to be the aluminum body of a 1920s single seat airplane. And look above the rear of the Fiat. Behind the tool box appears to be an early 40s Chrysler product under a gray car cover. Lots of other interesting small items scattered around as well.

      Like 1
      • bog

        Bill – I noticed that airplane body as well. Question: was it you that I was having the discussion revolving an older Porsche racing specials’ tail lamps ? From looking at the photo of the blue Facel, could those be the lights used on that Porsche ? We had tossed around Henry J and other various makes as possible candidates. Never found a note about where the original builder sourced them.

      • Bill McCoskey

        Bog,

        Yes, I think that was probably me. The Facel FV2 in the A, B, and S types all used the same taillight, a very unusual lens of 2 concave lenses and a chrome rib above, joining the 2 lenses. I don’t think these were the ones on the race car.

        I’ve owned a Facel Vega Excellence and worked on a couple coupes years ago. I think I would have remembered if the lights on the Porsche were FV lights.

        Like 1
  6. Kurt Member

    The interiors on the originals were incredible. Their restoration with original type materials will be very pricey (but worth it).

    Like 3
  7. Kurt Member

    I agree, this listing seems like the seller can’t be bothered with details and maybe, just maybe, doesn’t really want to sell the car. Get it together seller. You have a VERY desirable, rare car but you need to present it better than this.

    Like 2
    • Susan McKee Member

      “I tried to sell the car, honey, but nobody wanted it.”

  8. luke arnott Member

    A friend of mine had one a few years back.Said it was a pile of junk.By all accounts they were alright in a straight line otherwise forget it.

    Like 1
  9. Howie Mueler

    On this they only have one photo? But on some molding they have 5 photos!!

    Like 5
  10. Bunky

    Good article, awesome car. However, please identify vintage American engines by cubic inches, as the factory identified them, and as we know them.

  11. losgatos_dale

    A sleeping ’56 isn’t a grade 1 quarter million dollar ’54. And the claims that they are six figure cars? I can either say, “if you say so”…or “I don’t think so Tim” but I will certainly say this car isn’t worth 1/2 the market of a concours-level example. And I’m willing to say that with only one photo to assess it.

  12. Rj

    I have I slight feeling this one will just disappear and the listing will do the same. Poof it’s gone listing removed by seller.

  13. type2vw

    they say a picture is worth a thousand words, not $125k.

  14. Al

    I once had the opportunity to buy one of these in 1969 for $200, But the original owner died in it in the spring and they found it the following spring with the remains of his body still in it.
    The stink had permeated throughout the car. I opened the door and barfed, actually you could smell it from about 30 feet away. I do not know if it ever sold, but 53 years later I can still smell it.

    Like 4
  15. Larry D

    Wow!! Another car on BF that its contributor didn’t get credit for. Not surprising.

    Like 1
  16. Crawdad

    Here in eastern KY, we heard the ” died in the car ” story often, except it was always a 427 Corvette for $ 200.. And we would all always say, :” Heck , I’d drive it no matter how bad it stank”. Ahhh, the innocence of youth.

    Like 2
  17. Kim

    I’m more of a realist. I’ll take the 1974 Fiat X1/9 in the background. The 74 X1/9 is one of the more collectible of the 18 year US lifespan for the X1/9, possibly displaced by the 88 Bertone Finale. The 2nd generation X1/9s, from 1979 foreword were better engineered, faster and more reliable but the 74 with its button bumpers is often copied by many owners of all preceding years.

    Like 2
  18. Sidedraught

    When they say you have to wire transfer $125,000 before pickup I am always suspicious. When I arrive with my trailer I can bring the bank check or whatever is needed, but I like to know that I am actually getting the car as advertised before I send off large sums of non refundable funds.

  19. Bill

    The vehicle is listed as a De Soto. Wire the 125K$ and see what you get.

  20. Chris Londish Member

    I saw one of these in real life a couple of years ago at a car show in Melbourne Australia all I could do was stand and admire it’s lines and style amazing

  21. bog

    Bill – thanks for the prompt response. I was looking only at the side-view of the Facel. Now I see the chrome you mentioned. Guess it remains a mystery on that Porsche’s taillights.

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