A coachbuilder will revive the Facel Vega, the brand of French luxury cars built in Dreux

Paulo Antunes, coachbuilder who is passionate about vintage cars, pays tribute to Facel Vega, the brand of luxury cars, mainly manufactured in Dreux (Eure-et-Loir). Long forgotten, it symbolized the 1950s to the point where it appeared in the comics Spirou and Fantasio or in a film from the OSS 117 saga.

It is difficult for Paulo Antunes to distinguish between work and passion. This bodybuilder, who has been working on his own since 2009 on the outskirts of Roanne (Loire), spends 17 hours a day in his workshop restoring old vehicles, and not just any: Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar …

But in one corner of the head, one brand stands out: Facel Vega. A memory right from childhood. “When I was younghe says, my parents dropped me off at the hairdresser while they went shopping. This hairdresser was a car enthusiast, he had a couple of magazines that I flipped through where there was Facel Vega, and when I saw this type of car, I loved the design.

A design that marked its era, that of the 1950s, because we find this brand in comics Spirou and Fantasioor recently in movies OSS 117: Cairo, nest of spies Where Ratatouille. It also left a very fatal imprint when it was in a Facel Vega that Michel Gallimard and Albert Camus died on January 4, 1960 in a car accident.

Participate in the war effort

The very first model had been released six years earlier, in 1954 It had been designed and manufactured by the car company Facelthe abbreviation for Blacksmiths’ workshops and construction workshops in Eure-et-Loir.

The latter was so called because it was created in Dreux in 1939 to participate in the military aviation war effort. Over the years, the return to peace and industrial development, the company had moved to Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine), but had kept its factory in Dreux, which engaged in bodywork, upholstery and road testing.

2,000 copies worldwide

When we talk about the leather interior of Facel Vega, Paulo Antunes does not have enough laudatory expressions: “It was high quality upholstery. It was artisanal design, haute couture. When you walk into a Facel Vega, it’s like walking into a leather goods store that sells Hermès or Louis Vuitton, you’re all for prestige.

A prestige that had a price. “It was an unaffordable car, it was released in very few copies, very few collectors have this type of car in their garages‘, He assures.

All models combined there would have been fewer 3,000 Facel Vega built in 10 years.To date, we can say that there are 2,000 of them scattered around the world, there are 1,000 that have disappeared“, Assesses the bodybuilder of Roanne.

“We build everything”

So in 2013, when a customer arrives at his workshop with a Facel Vega, he feels the luckiest of mechanics. Word of mouth follows, another, a third, a fourth Facel Vega arrives …

I repaired about twenty of them. I myself have almost ten. To avoid waiting too long for the customer, I wanted to become my own customer to restore and resell them.

But how does he find the spare parts knowing that the Facel factories closed their doors permanently on October 31, 1964? “We build everything here in the workshop, in accordance with the original, he sums up. I have a saddle maker who restores and rebuilds the seats identical, as then, with quality leather. I have a mechanic, sheet metal worker …

A reduced model to 9,500 €

Since July 2021, he has not only restored and rebuilt spare parts, he has also started manufacturing from A to Z … of scale models. Attention, reduced does not mean miniature. The electric reproductions in the 1/3 scale still have room for two children and can drive up to 30 km / h. You should still avoid having too much fun with them, these carts cost a trifle of € 9,500.

A beautiful collector’s item, which therefore caters to enthusiasts, but they are not the only target. “Vyou talk to kids today about a Bugatti, they know what it is. Whereas if you tell them about a Facel Vega, they do not know it exists.notes Paulo Antunes. The idea through this little car is to pass on the know-how and heritage of this car brand to our children.

A street in tribute to Facel Vega

For those who could dream of a life-size reproduction, Paulo Antunes is also working on it. However, he may not provide a potential release date if “the project is far advanced“, the legal aspects are not clarified.

In any case, it will approach the design sites of Facel Vega, as it is set to take part in the Retromobile exhibition in Paris next March. However, there is no question of creating an antenna or a showroom in Dreux because it can not “multiply“, especially since there is nothing left of the factory today. But if the place has disappeared, the city has also paid tribute to the brand by naming a street in the city of Facel Vega.

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