Facel Vega FV4 392 Hemi “Typhoon” PaM (manual gearbox) – the Holy Grail
Facel is best known for its high performance luxury cars that were built at the highest level of craftsmanship. Among Facel’s best products was this rare Facel Vega FV4. It was the French equivalent of a refined muscle car and was mainly sold outside France itself. Despite being a rarity you could go to any workshop for service and maintenance in period, especially if you lived in the US. Under the bonnet housed the beefiest Chrysler first generation Hemi that produced a magnificent 375 hp with the help of dual quad-barrel carburetors. Usually these V8s were connected to a push-button Torqueflite automatic transmission and then ‘only’ got 355 hp. Just eight FV4s were equipped with the fine Pont-à-Mousson 4-speed manual gearbox and the extra 20 hp. This is one of the latter and therefore the hidden gem. Some say the exotic FV4 we offer here is the holy grail for Facel lovers and we cannot argue with that.
It was Max Hoffman who sold this FV4 in the US. At his dealership in New York, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, he offered several European brands to the American customers. Hoffman wasn’t the official distributor, but in 1957 he placed an 8-car order at Facel for the FV-Series. The 6.4L FV4 models were especially made for the American market, it wasn’t even homologated in France. Max Hoffman even used his own chassis numbers. Our example was one of the last that arrived in New York during december 1958. The car has been in the States until 1990, when it came to The Netherlands as barn find. Between 2008 and 2012 it was restored and since then the current owner has put the dots on the i with the help of several specialists, including us. For example; the engine was overhauled at first, but again completely rebuilt after the restoration. Both carburettors were rebuilt and a new clutch was installed. The suspension was completely re-done including the addition of new Koni Classic shock absorbers.
This 1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe, as it was called on the American market, is equipped with the largest and most powerful first generation Hemi engine. The later HK500 got the wedge engine instead, as they were called. The only other Facel Vegas that were equipped with the TY6 engine were the 4-door Excellence and Facel II. Previous Facels, like the FV1 and FV2 only had less powerful Hemi engines. The manual all synchromesh 4-speed gearbox adds more drama to the overall driving experience. The FV4 6.4L with this gearbox was really a superfast muscle car. Nobody even tested its top speed at the time, but with the fast accelerating gear ratio that our example came with, it must have pulled hard all the way to 240 kmh and even beyond. This was near supercar territory at its time.
The 392 CID raised-deck Hemi V8 power plants were called FirePower C300C. The V8s in the Facels FV4 differed from the regular 300 B (5.8L, coded TY5) and 300 C (6.4L, coded TY6) engines. Chrysler only offered the optional dual quad-barrel carburetors on their top models. Facel Véga on the other hand offered this set up as stock. On top the Facels got a black flat, batwing-like, Typhoon air intake. This typical air intake looked the same as Chrysler’s golden air intake of the 1957 300B, but Facel’s intakes were made by themselves. They were curved, much thinner and very efficient. Compared to the largely produced Firepower Hemis the engines in the manual FV4s got the optional higher compression. The additional forged crankshaft, high performance cam and special valve lifters helped to improve the overall performance. The incredible power output in both manual Facel FV4 versions were respectively 340 and 375 hp. An unheard number in those days.
Not just power and performance were the FV4’s highlights. Just like other Facel Véga models it’s all about the top notch coachbuilding. Panels were still beaten in Facel’s body shop by true craftsmen. Unlike other brands the build quality was what really counted, not any profit – in fact there wasn’t any. For some it’s the stylish exterior that’s got them excited about these French cars, for others it’s all about the near-extravagant interior. Facel-founder Jean Daninos did most of the styling on the car himself. He has always been influenced by French and Italian coachbuilders, but American car design inspired him as well. Jacques Brasseurs was responsible for the engineering and as constructor of the Facel Vega Sport’s chassis he set the mark high. These FVS models were meant for high speed cross continental travelling and this really set them apart from any American muscle car. American car journalists praised Facel’s looks, rigidity and high-speed stability in period. Because 97 percent of all FV4s were exported, more than any other Facel model, their reviews counted.
During the years the Facel models evolved and the name of the models and company weren’t always consistent, but the FV4 is easily recognisable as a “Véga” with its typical wraparound windshield, pillarless coupé roofline and stainless steel details. With the double stacked headlights the FV3 and FV4 models sit in the middle between the earliest Facels and the later models. Therefore their styling and presence attracts most Facel lovers. The interior was chic and a true showcase of the workmanship Facel’s artisans had to offer. They fuse together traditional and more contemporary styles in optima forma. The dashboard was aircraft-inspired and very functional with all the necessary gauges. Facel chose to make the dashboards out of steel over wood for durability and styling reasons. Facel was a metal company in the first place, so this made sense. To retain the luxurious feel of classic wooden dashboards the steel got a hand-painted ‘faux’ wood grain finish. No two Facel dashboards are the same. During the restoration of this FV4 a dark tone of brown walnut was chosen. It matches the dark red leather upholstery perfectly and creates the quintessential look and feel that makes a Facel Véga stand out.
This car had several options including Borrani knock-off wheels. Borrani was an OEM supplier to Facel Vega, but the wheels are better known as Rudge in the original documents. R. Rudge wheels differ from the other wire wheels Facel had to offer, the Robergel wheels. Robergel wheels used lugs, but the Rudge / Borrani wheels used completely different hubs so there were no wheel lugs used at all. This Rudge-Withworth system was developed before WW2. It was a British invention and Borrani was the Italian dealer. After the war Borrani had the opportunity to purchase the wheel department from Rudge-Withworth, including the patent. The original Borranis were renewed during the restoration.
Most people who are familiar with Facels know the HK500, which was the FV4’s successor. But with a limited production run of only 67 cars, the FV4 is much rarer. The HK500 is commonly known as Facel’s pinnacle, but an FV4 with a Hemi and PaM gearbox is even more outstanding and not many people know about it. We’ve put our hands on many Facels during the years and from our point of view this example is the holy grail for true lovers of the marque. Just eight examples with the fastest hemi were fitted with a Pont-à-Mousson 4-speed manual gearbox. To find one of those as a turn-key car is nearly impossible. We believe it’s quite special that such a stunning “Grand Routière” comes onto the market in a perfect shape, fitted with the best options and the most popular colour scheme. To find a gem like this is like finding a needle in the haystack. This car has been in our workshop recently – it ticks all the boxes – so we are happy to tell you about all the fine details.
Chassis nr.: FV4-58-272 / FVSNY272 (the Max Hoffman nr.)
Engine nr.: TY6-572957
Pont-à-Mousson (PaM) 4-speed gearbox
Colour: Métallique / Red interior
Rudge-Withworth Borrani knock-offs
2008-2012: Body-off restoration – fully documented
2013-2015: Rebuilt engine, new clutch, rebuilt carbs
Rebuilt suspension, including New Koni Classic Shocks
Well maintained and recently serviced
Built-in aux connection in glovebox
We ship worldwide