I have been a little lax recently regarding press coverage of Facels but I have two particular sightings to report.
The first is a five page feature in Classic Car of March on my own Facel 11 by Ivan Ostroff. It’s entitled ‘Rob Walker’s Mystical Mistress’ as this car belonged to him, and I was amused that Ross Brawn, who owns one of Rob’s Ferrari 250 GT Berlinettas, came unto me in Bahrain recently and said that he had read the feature. Ostroff visited me back in the autumn with a photographer and a Swedish journalist and not only does this article appear in Classic Car, but another will appear in Teknikens Vaarld in Sweden.
Ostroff has a lot of experience of classic cars, so it was almost an honour to have him drive my car and evaluate it. Since then, it has had work done on the front suspension, so any criticisms of the ride have since been ironed out. The state of our British roads is also scarcely perfect so ride criticisms are not unknown and can be squarely laid at the door of our cash-strapped councils!
The other sighting was in Classic and Sports Car on page 13, where I was surprised and thrilled to find a pic of Arthur Fitchett cornering his HK500 on the door handles at Silverstone, pushed hard by a Peugeot 106. (It reminded me of that lovely Brockbank cartoon of a Citroen being harried by a massive Bentley with the caption Citron presse).
What was an HGK500 doing racing at Silverstone? Well it was taking part in the intriguing Pomeroy Trophy, which is a regular season-opener run by the VSCC at Silverstone. And what is the Pomeroy Trophy? The idea is to find the best all round GT car for the road. It was originally suggested in 1947 by John Rowley, but because of petrol rationing at the time, the event didn’t take off until 1952. The only requirements are that the vehicle must be road legal.
To make this a fair competition, and not just for the fastest car, the VSCC decided to use Laurence Pomeroy’s formula which was originally used to calculate the efficiency of Grand Prix engines. The formula uses the engine capacity, the wheel base of the vehicle and its age. The formula then generates the number of laps that the car should complete during the 40 minute time trial held on the Silverstone National circuit. Additional tests held during the morning include a slalom through cones, a braking test and an acceleration test. Penalty points are given for failures in these tests and also if the vehicle has insufficient space to carry two large suitcases and it must have a functional hood.
A Facel Vega is therefore an ideal machine to take part in such an event and it’s great to see that Fitchett – a late entry – grabbed the nettle and has competed. It’s quite some time since a Facel Vega last competed in this country – a Facellia has competed in classic rallies in France – but there is surely the possibility of an HK500 being seen again soon as the ex-Brooklands Motor company car, which was partially prepared for competition, has recently been sold.
There is also mention of the two Facels that were sold at Retromobile, although I’m pretty sure that the price of one of the cars is inaccurate.