1964 Facel Vega II Coupe

Simon Clay, courtesy of Bonhams
Simon Clay, courtesy of Bonhams

In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand built, they were, of course, necessarily very expensive — the Facel II was priced in Rolls-Royce territory — and were bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. The roll call of owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers: Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner and Ringo Starr — the first owner of the car offered here. Confirming that there was high-performance substance behind Facel’s unquestionable style, they were owned and driven by great motor racing figures such as Sir Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Rob Walker.

Launched in 1961 as the successor to 1957’s HK500, the Facel II was destined to be the last of the V8-engined models. Road testing one in 1962, The Autocar commented: “A striking amalgamation of French, American and British components, the big Facel has a wonderful way of covering the miles extremely fast without mechanical fuss.” Chassis number HK2B160 is the very last of only 26 right-hand-drive Facel IIs made — and the only one of five RHD examples equipped with the Pont-à-Mousson manual gearbox that also had the 6.7-liter, 390-hp, Typhoon twin-carburetor engine. Other noteworthy original features include power-assisted steering and the rare chromed disc wheels.

One of the last Facel IIs to be imported by HWM Intercontinental Cars Ltd., this car was first registered by the importer as “EPH 4B” in October 1964. Thirteen months later, in November 1965, the car was sold to its first private owner, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, whose real name (Richard Starkey) appears in the accompanying original logbook. It cost over £5,000, putting it in the same league as a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III.

In May 1968, ownership passed to Reginald Kearsley of Wellingborough, chairman of United Carriers. Interviewed by the Evening Standard in March 1968, Ringo explained his reason for parting with it: “I like the security of marriage and the family. In fact, I’m thinking of selling my Facel Vega and getting an ordinary family saloon, something like a Mercedes.”

The original logbook records various subsequent changes of registration and lists a further three owners, the last of whom — Mark Walker — acquired the car in 1970 and fitted the Webasto sunroof. Old-style V5 registration documents on file record the next owner as Eric Phillpott (from December 1988). The current owner acquired the car from the Phillpott family in March 2012.

Subject to a restoration in 2012–13 costing over £40,000 ($65,757), the Facel retains its original engine and beige leather interior, and it is finished in metallic red. Said to drive perfectly, our subject car has covered only some 1,000 miles since the rebuild’s completion earlier this year and is presented in generally excellent condition.