F1 drivers, their Facels and luck
As some of the racing drivers in the 50’s were part of the Jet Set, others still used cars to travel long distances. Both parties belonged to the Rich & Famous and Facel Vega offered cars to suit them well. With plenty of power, lot’s of style and luxury people like Stirling Moss, Paul Frère, Rob Walker and Maurice Trintignant loved to drive their Facels to the races around Europe. Maurice Trintignant got himself this fine example of the Facel Vega FV3B and it was road registered only 10 days after he had won the Monaco Grand Prix in May 1958. It was the last FV3B ever built and it still is in its original shape today.
Trintignant had won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1954 and the Monaco Grand Prix of ’55, but he left Monaco in ‘58 with the first victory for a rear-engined car during a championship race. Only two Ferrari drivers were capable to chase him after most of the other drivers crashed or got technical issues along the way. Maurice led the race from lap 46 until the final, one-hundredth, lap in his Cooper-Climax. People considered it as quite a conservative way to win. Some called him lucky. But he raced and he won. The gap to Musso in second place was about 20 seconds and he even lapped the number 3 car. It was the same as his victory three years earlier, where he created such a gap to his fellow Ferrari drivers Taruffi and Farina in 1955, after Moss got to a standstill (and pushed his Benz across the finish line in the last lap to gain some extra price money), while Ascari got wet after he went off into the harbor. Many others crashed. Not that Trintignant never crashed. During the first Grand Prix at Monaco in 1950, he crashed during the opening lap, together with several others, after Farina spun because of sea water that hit the road after the tunnel. Eight cars in total got damaged. All racing drivers continued their careers and kept their spirit.
The French racing driver was so fond of this Facel Vega FV3B, that he even encouraged other drivers to buy Facels. There’s a story, told by Rob Walker, where he explained why he got a Facel too. Rob Walker was involved in the fatal road accident in which Mike Hawthorn died. It was thought that if Rob’s car wouldn’t have been very noticeable, he drove the Mercedes 300SL, the accident wouldn’t have occurred. So Rob rang up Stirling Moss and asked him what car he should buy. Moss answered “Well I don’t care what car you buy, but whatever you buy get an automatic gearbox. I’d never drive anything but an automatic on the road”. Maurice Trintignant offered Stirling Moss and Rob Walker a ‘race taxi’ lap in his Facel Vega FV3B at the Nürburgring before the German Grand Prix of ‘58. Walker remembered: “The handling was nothing exceptional, compared to a race car, but it was quite exciting. I think we broke 17 spokes on the journey!”. Rob Walker bought a Facel after this ‘test drive’. Stirling Moss got his Facels for free (publicity), so he didn’t really owned them.
Maurice used three Facels for many years and he really took care of the cars. As did the next owners of his FV3B. In 1978 the car was resprayed in the original colour, and in 1980 it got new red carpets. But even today the car is still in a unique original condition. The previous owner, Mr. F. Bradely conserved the car for 30 years, between 1985 and 2015. He used Borrani wheels, but kept the original wire wheels with the car. This Facel comes with a great history, interesting files and lovely patina. There’s also an owner’s manual, signed by Jean Daninos and Trintignant. And there’s even a notebook with mileage and places that were visited in the early sixties. We assume it was used for a vehicle miles traveled tax, but it could have been to keep an eye on the household expenses too! If you’re into V8 powered Facels and especially if you want a one-of-a-kind example, this last built FV3B is considerably the most interesting car in existence. It already has the impressive looks of an HK500, with the style of the earlier FV-models.
Take this Facel into the future
We just celebrated the 100th birthday of Maurice Trintignant last week and if you could imagine that in May 2018, when his Facel becomes 60 years old, you could be driving this FV3B to the Monaco Grand Prix yourself. To celebrate life, racing and the astonishing Facel Vega’s.
Model: Facel Vega FV3B (1958)
Engine: Chrysler V8 Poly 301cc (4.9 ltr) / 235bhp
Gearbox: Auto transmission (Chrysler Torqueflite)
Weight: 1660 kg
Dimensions: 4.59 x 1.80 x 1.36m
Top speed: 240 Km/h
Total production: 92 cars