The Facel Vega marque was born in 1954, the brainchild of French industrialist and designer Jean Daninos. Launched in 1958 the HK500 was the most powerful Facel yet, initially fitted with a 5.9-litre Chrysler V8 that was shortly superseded by the larger 6.3-litre unit producing a huge 360bhp and 425 lbs-ft of torque.
Styled by Daninos, engineered by Jacques Brasseur and with a chassis developed by Lance Macklin of HWM racing fame, the HK500 went as well as it looked with a fit and finish that was second to none. Rust-resistant stainless steel was used for brightwork, while a lavish passenger cabin was trimmed in the finest leathers with a fabulous aircraft-like dashboard constructed in stainless steel and hand finished in a wood grain effect.
The advertising slogan for the Facel Vega HK500 summed it up succinctly, “For the Few Who Own the Finest”. The few included Pablo Picasso, Ringo Starr (MK11) Tony Curtis, Ava Gardner, Joan Fontaine and Maurice Trintignant.
Tested by Motor magazine, the car topped out at 145mph, hit 60mph in 8.4 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds. Stirling Moss spurned air travel in favour of driving his HK500 from race to race. Costing more than a Mercedes Gullwing and three times as rare, the HK500 exuded opulent exclusivity from every stunningly handsome angle.
This highly original and unrestored example was produced in 1961, and subsequently shipped to its first owner in New York. Originally finished in Ivory White with Red leather interior. The car was kept in the US until 1990 when acquired by a British enthusiast from a dealer in Massachusetts. Prior to the point of sale the HK500 had been repainted in Silver. A pre-sale report dated 1990 is held in the vehicle file.
It has resided in the UK for almost 33 years, the first UK owner keeping the car for 25 years, in which time a total mileage of only 970 miles being covered.
The car will need mechanically recommissioning and was last run in 2017. The paintwork is tired and the rear lower quarter panels will require some minor fabrication. Structurally, the car is in great shape with no welding having been conducted or being required to the underside or chassis. All bright-work is complete and generally in very good shape.
The red leather interior is totally complete, although showing signs of wear, commensurate with age. The woven wicker rear speaker grilles are unspoilt. The interior bright-work, gauges and very cool mid 70’s Pioneer 8-Track are all in excellent order. There are some cracks to the steering wheel rim which could be easily repaired if desired and the cigar lighter is missing.
The original tool kit is complete asides one spare bulb and the factory jack remains in place too.
With just under 75,000 miles recorded, this stylish Grand Routier should prove to be a straightforward restoration or preservation project for the discerning collector.