Facel-Metallon was a company that made a significant, albeit relatively brief, impact on the car industry in the Fifties. At a time when most European carmakers had fallen into a rut of producing cars with outdated designs, this French company headed by automotive stylist Jean Daninos came up with a large, beautifully designed grand tourer. Dubbed the Facel Vega, this GT powered by a potent Chrysler Hemi V8, became extremely popular with the super-rich clientele.
Business was booming and it created a niche for itself as a maker of chic, low-volume machines. However, their cars were not accessible to the common man. To address this issue, Facel announced a smaller model that would be powered by a smaller four-cylinder engine. Since the Chrysler Hemi played a big role in the Vega’s success, Facel should have known that the choice of powertrain supplier will be crucial. But strangely, Facel approached gearbox and drum brake supplier, Pont-à-Mousson, who developed a four-pot for them.
While the new car, named Facellia, was well-received, its owners soon started reporting issues with overheating, with many ending up with failed engines in less than a year. Facel tried to brush things under the carpet by replacing the engines under warranty but the replacement engines were also plagued with problems.
In 1962, the company acknowledged the Facellia’s engine issues, but did not recover from the damage the car caused to its finances and reputation, and was shut down in 1964.