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Rob Walker's Facel Vega HK500.

This colour image was taken in the early 1960s, and in it features a magnificent Facel Vega HK500 with its famous owner - Mr Rob Walker, racing team owner (Rob Walker Racing Team) and employer of drivers such as Tony Rolt, Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, Maurice Trintignant, Ricardo Rodriguez and Graham Hill. The photograph was taken by the father of Rob St Clair, who granted me access to a collection of slide scans from his late father's collection. His father attended a number of French races in 1962 with his trusty camera (Le Mans, French Grand Prix, Reims Grand Prix), and this scene was captured at one of them.
Rob Walker, the debonair chap wearing the brown blazer and sunglasses, is shown leaning against his Facel Vega HK500 (he also owned a Facel II), while a number of mechanics appear to be tending to a problem with the car. Their attentions centre around the front wheel, and the presence of a trolley jack suggests either a puncture or a brake issue on that corner. Is that driver Jackie Ickx standing next to Walker? Only the first letter of the Facel's registration is visible, however it's known that his car was registered ROB 2. It survives to this day, and photos of it mid-restoration and also in period, can be found on the JB Classic Cars website.
In 1962, Rob Walker ran a Lotus 24 for driver Maurice Trintignant. Of the three French races that Rob St Clair's father attended in 1962 in his Austin A40, only the French Grand Prix held at Rouen-Les-Essarts was attended by Rob Walker's team, thus confirming the setting for this scene.
The stunning Esso fuel tanker in the background is also worthy of mention.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
Rob Walker and his Facel Vega HK500
The HK500 made its debut in 1959, it followed on from the 1954-onwards Facel Vega (FV), and was basically an upgraded version of the 1956-on Facel Vega Sports (FVS). To begin with, the HK500's power came courtesy of the FVS' 5.8 litre Chrysler engine, although this was soon replaced by a 6.3 V8 unit. In 1962 it would be replaced by the Facel II. The glamorous image and spirited performance of all the Facel Vegas led to many well-known faces owning one, these included Ringo Starr, Danny Kaye, Ava Gardner and Tony Curtis.
Return to Page 21 in the motoring image archive, or visit the main index of vintage & classic photographs here. A photo of a very tired Facel III spotted in France during the 1970s, can be found on this page.

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