An incredibly rare car is set to hit Bonhams auction house in December and could be sold for as much as £350,000 – not least because it once had an A-list owner. The Facel Vega II was sold between the years of 1962 and 1964 and built up quite a following in its short life. Joan Collins, Stirling Moss, Pablo Picasso and Frank Sinatra have all been credited to have owned one in their lifetime, but this particular model was driven by former-Beatle Ringo Starr.
French firm Facel delivered around 2,900 cars in its history, with an aim to be stylish, luxurious and produce high-speeds. As they were hand-built, the vehicles were expensive when released, sitting in the same category as models produce by Rolls-Royce.
The company however went bankrupt after unsuccessfully attempting to enter the engine manufacturing sector. Therefore, the Facel II would end up being one of the last V8-engined models from the brand. After launching in 1954, Facel eventually had to close in 1964.
Ringo bought the car for around £5,750 in 1964, the equivalent of around £42,000 in today’s money. However, at auction, it could make over eight times that amount when it goes under the hammer at the end of the year.
The vehicle comes in right-hand-drive and features a 6.7-litre engine in addition to a manual gearbox. Only 182 models of the Facel II were ever made. While the Facel II is rare in itself for being right-hand-drive – with only 26 of the model ever made with this feature – the car is even more sought after, as it is one of just two of the four-seat coupes ever made with its exact specifications.
With an exterior that delivers the aesthetics of a 1960’s American sedan, but with a distinct air of luxury, the vehicle is featured in burgundy and looks in excellent condition.
Not only will the car appeal to fans of classic cars and French motoring history, lovers of the Beatles are also expected to be fighting for the impressive model.
Sholto Gilbertson, director in the Bonhams collector car department, said: “As Ringo drove this car, he would have listened on the car radio to the Beatles’ total domination of the pop charts.
“This car has to be one of the rarest and most collectable modern classic cars given its almost unique engineering and its place as part of pop music history.”
In addition to the former Beatle’s previously-owned car, the December 1st auction – to be held in London – will see a collection of rare Ecurie Ecosse race cars – built by a Scottish-based team that was famed for having won the 24 hour Le Mans race in 1956 and 1957 – go on sale.
Cars owned by members of The Beatles have gone on sale at auction before and have earned a very pretty penny.
In 2012, Paul McCartney’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 sold for £344,400 at auction, hitting the middle of its estimate between £300,000 and £380,000.