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Ringo Starr's rare Facel II up for auction

One of just 182 cars made, this fast, luxurious coupe ruled high-performance GTs in the 1960s.

By Clifford Atiyeh Oct 4, 2013 10:24AM
An obscure French coupe with a Chrysler Hemi V8 once owned by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr is going to auction in December.

The 1964 Facel Vega Facel II is one of 182 hand-built cars from one of the last great European coachbuilders to survive the second World War. Facel, which started out building bodies for military trucks and even dabbled in office furniture, began churning out rebodied Bentleys and Fords before unveiling its own car, the Vega, in 1954. The 1961 Facel II was the last of several luxurious coupes that were swathed in the finest materials and priced against Rolls-Royce and Bentley models.

Like those famous British cars, the Facel II was heavy and could seat four, but with a 6.3-liter Hemi V8 pushing 355 horsepower, it was just as fast as the four-seat Lamborghini Espada that would debut seven years later. Given France's high post-war taxes, most of Facel's cars were exported where rich car enthusiasts could appreciate them (like England and California).

Starr's 1964 model packed the larger 6.7-liter Hemi V8 that was good for 390 horsepower. With the Beatles reaching critical mass all over the world with singles including "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," the drummer was easily able to afford the roughly $16,000 asking price (today's equivalent of about $120,000). Similar to how John Lennon purchased a new Ferrari at his home, Starr plucked his Facel right off the show stand of the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show in London. Facel the company wasn't as lucky and closed down that same year. In total, the French marque built about 2,900 cars.

While collector car insurer Hagerty estimates a regular Facel II at just under $164,000, auction house Bonhams says the Ringo Starr Facel II could fetch anywhere from $482,000 to $562,000. It will cross the block at Bonhams auction house in London on Sunday, Dec. 1. In July, Lennon's 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 sold in a Bonhams auction for about $578,000.

[Source: Bonhams via Los Angeles Times; HowStuffWorks]

Oct 4, 2013 10:53AM
A cool car with an interesting story.  Thanks for sharing!
Oct 4, 2013 12:13PM

the driver's seat shows significant wear, so the car has been driven quite a lot. it doens't cost a lot to re-leather the seats, but guess they want it as original for theauction....and ringo sat on that leather.

Oct 5, 2013 10:16AM
Since it was Ringo Starr's,I'd pay half a mil for it...if I had that kind of money. 'Cause it can only go up in price.
Oct 4, 2013 12:02PM
Great car,,,in 1967, my girlfriends father had one...Silver...the most incredible car!
He also had Ghia' owned by Hogey Carmichael...unreal!
Oct 5, 2013 10:09AM

Very Cool CAR , But I could do a lot with that kind of Dough and the the leather seats look a little warn from the looks of the pic. Probably due to Ringo's notable band of groopies. Still a very cool car YEAAAH.

Oct 4, 2013 12:14PM
Oct 5, 2013 11:58AM
And what makes this better than the Ferrari Lennon had....The passenger seat doesn't smell like Yoko!
Oct 5, 2013 12:16PM
In 1964, I was searching for motorcycle parts in an old lemon warehouse near Oxnard, CA.  A motorcycle club called the "Question Marks" was living there and taking care of the excess cars for the Movieland Cars of the Stars which were stored there.  They had quite the setup, machine shop, paint booth, and everything you would possibly need to restore cars and bikes.  I was taken on a tour of the place and the very first car I saw was a Facel Vega.  It was love at first sight.  I've never seen another but I've never forgotten how elegant that automobile was.
Oct 5, 2013 12:41PM
Ringo has houses in California and New York; but, lives in Monaco...wonderful, talented man!
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