Using mechanical components from the FVS and HK 500, the Excellence had an extended chassis with four large seats, four doors and a hardtop roof. Its performance (top speed of over 125mph) and luxury finish, with sumptuous Vaumol leather upholstery (as used by Rolls-Royce) and quality fittings, attracted an élite clientèle keen on using an exclusive French motor car. At the end of 1957, when it was first delivered, the Excellence cost four times more than a Citroën DS 19 but, for clients liable to promote the model (ambassadors, French and foreign personalities, etc.), considerable reductions were offered. In 1961 the Série 2 lost its panoramic windscreen and aggressive-looking fins, deemed ‘too American’, but received the Chrysler Typhoon 6.3-litre engine, delivering 390bhp (manual gear-box) or 360bhp (automatic).
The Excellence was completely stripped down, with the body removed from the chassis, as can be seen in photos in the restoration file. It was re-upholstered by Caribex, in red leather to match the original, at a cost of €15,000. The dashboard, in good condition, was re-varnished. Mechanically, the gearbox was checked over, the engine was rebuilt, with new bearings, pistons, valves, timing chain, oil and water pumps. The two carburettors were also overhauled, at a cost of €2,800. The brakes were serviced and the car has a stainless steel exhaust.
The file with the car includes invoices and photos detailing the major work that was carried out. This is undoubtedly one of the finest Excellences in circulation, having enjoyed a complete restoration at the highest level.
This Excellence was delivered new on 25 February 1960 and its first owner, Helen Kirby de Bagration, belonged to an aristocratic Russian family who emigrated during the revolution. She was 25 years old and bought probably the car for her father in law the Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch Romanov . In 1963, the car was sold to a certain M. Y. Fontana, from Neuilly, before being taken on by the Pierre Savoye Garage in 1964. In December 1964 it passed to the Baillon family and has remained there ever since. There is a photo of Jacques taken during his military service during the 1960s, posing proudly with the car in front of the family home. It retains its original ” Tudor Grey ” paintwork, and the black leather upholstery is remarkably well preserved, simply requiring a good clean. The dashboard still displays the magnificent imitation wood effect, while the roof lining has suffered from the years of neglect. The odometer reads 52 213 km and under the bonnet, an oil-change notice dating from 1965 indicates a mileage of 48 221 km. This car has thus been driven very little, but will require a thorough mechanical overhaul before being put back on the road. The boot is also very sound, and still equipped with its toolkit.
Excellence Series 2 we present is, according to Facel records, the latest of eight cars produced. Originally, it was an American citizen who had placed an order but, soon after, died so the car did not get to the US. It was then bought by Jean Bauchet, director of Moulin Rouge. The car can bee seen in the background of an advertorial for Ford, from 1966, published in Look Magazine, where Mr. Bauchet is presented as a “connoisseur of fine motorcars,” whose own car is a “prestigious and rare Facel Vega. Obviously, (Mr. Bauchet) is used to the very best…”
What’s more the odometer shows just 55,000 km, a figure that corresponds to its original mileage, which was known to be 33,000km when the car was purchased in 1982. In very good original condition, always driven with care and respect, the car features a stainless steel exhaust system, fog lights fitted as original, and has been carefully maintained. Well built, it has no problems with the doors shutting perfectly, a problem that has been an issue with certain examples of the older version. The interior, which offers a rare level of comfort and luxury, features the famous painted dash with imitation wood and blue leather seats with superb patina.