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Homepage. This page: Time hadn't been kind to this early-sixties' Facel 3 cabriolet when seen in 1978.

Facel III Cabriolet.

Had TV detective Columbo spent the 1970s and 1980s crime-fighting in the South of France, rather than Los Angeles, then perhaps this time-worn Facel III Cabriolet would have been his choice of wheels. Somewhat more exclusive than the Peugeot 403 he used throughout his investigations, the Facel shares the "shabby chic" appearance of the former voiture used in the series. My thanks to David who sent over this colour photo, taken in August 1978 somewhere in the southern regions of France.
The car shown below is in a sad way, its front wing quite battered and seemingly held together with black tape. The rear edges of the wing are riddled with tinworm, and the sill doesn't look much healthier either. Whereas now the "baby" Facel is a sought-after and chic motor-car, at the time it was just an old, slightly tatty, sportscar whose best days were very much in the past. I wonder if it survives? Sadly most of the Facel's registration plate is unclear, although it appears to end in "83" which is the code for the department named Var, a department in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region of south east France.
Despite the car bearing a somewhat tired appearance, it wasn't bad enough to discourage a young lady - just visible in the passenger seat - from accepting a ride in it, after all a tatty Facel is still - to my eyes at least - infinitely preferable to the Renault 5 parked alongside it.
(Please click the thumbnail.)
A Facel III in 1978
The Facel III was created in a bid to halt the damage being done to the car manufacturer's reputation by the previous Facellia, on which the III was based. The Facellia was introduced in 1960 as a smaller, lower-cost, option to the exclusive and opulent Facel Vega HK500 and later Facel II, both propelled by American (Chrysler) V8 engines. It shared many styling cues with the larger cars, but instead of being powered by a reliable and well-proven engine, instead it was equipped with a twin overhead camshaft engine of 1.6 litres, built in France by Pont-à-Mousson. Unusually, each camshaft was only supported by two bearings and this led to many failures, something that would cripple the company in warranty claims.
With the company under new leadership mid-way through the Facellia's life, drastic changes to stem the sea of complaints and restore confidence in the marque as a whole were required. Hence the creation of the Facel III, which mated a revised Facellia body design with the simple, rugged and reliable Volvo P1800 engine, a design that had proven itself in a number of its creator's models since the 1950s. Sales of the sportscar, designed with mass-production in mind originally, didn't recover and production ceased altogether in 1963. Another attempt to re-invigorate sales of the Facellia, by utilising the engine used in the British Austin-Healey, to create what would be known as the Facel 6, didn't come to much and just thirty or so examples of that variant were built.
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