Brian Rix, the actor manager and mental health campaigner who has died aged 92, owned not one but two Facel Vegas , both of which still exist. He makes frequent appearances in Martin Buckley’s fine tome on the marque, including a couple of pictures, one of which is in the forward. He was clearly a valued owner.
He actually bought his first Facel secondhand. This was an HK500, HK F3, which was manual, grey with red leather interior, delivered new to its first owner in autumn 1958. “It was a brute of a car,” wrote Rix of his subsequent purchase in his autobiography. But he was determined to show its paces off to a passenger, theatre director Harry Kendal. Kendal had been a first World War fighter pilot, but even in a vertical dive he confessed – somewhat shaken – that he had never been as fast as the 145mph at which he travelled in Rix’s HK500 – typically on the newly built M1 motorway in 1960.
Rix was proud of the speed his car achieved, and regularly showed off the pace of his cars. HK F3 now lives in East Sussex, awaiting some TLC, along with two other HK500s, owned by a member of the Facel Vega Car Club.
Soon after, in March 1962 Rix bought FAD144, a white Facellia convertible again with red upholstery. There is a picture in Buckley’s book of the car outside a London theatre with members of staff and lots of children. He had bought it new, although by this time it was actually 18 months old – it just hadn’t sold. Within five years, it had been moved on to another owner, but for the last 42 years it has been in the same hands in Hertfordshire, again a member of the FVCC.
Brian Rix was a fine stage actor who specialised in farces and he was well known for his ‘trouserlessness’ in that the script would frequently call for his trousers to fall during a performance. He took part in many plays in the West End of London, occupying so many theatres that his farces took on the name Whitehall farces as this was where many theatres were located.
The birth of a daughter with Down’s syndrome led him to become a tireless campaigner for mental health issues, becoming president of the Mencap charity. For both his roles in life, he was hugely respected in the United Kingdom.