Ringo Starr, (born Richard Starkey in 1940) the Beatles drummer, once owned this 1964 Facel Vega Facel II – 'the world's fastest four-seater' - which is estimated to sell for £300,000 - £350,000 at Bonhams sale on Sunday 1st December in New Bond Street, London.
Powered by a 390bhp Chrysler Typhoon engine and with elegant bodywork by Jean Daninos it combined muscle and traditional looks with a whopping price tag of £5,570, a huge price for a car at the time. The car was delivered to Ringo's home in Weybridge, Surrey. This glamorous grand tourer was perfect for long motorway runs with its huge V8 engine making light work of it. The car's current owner has it ensured for £500,000.
Ringo owned the car for a total of four years after buying it directly from the stand at Earls Court Motor Show in 1964. Credited with singing lead vocals on 'With a little help from my friends' and 'Yellow Submarine', he was co-writer of 'Don't Pass Me By' and Octopus's Garden'. When the Beatles formed in 1960 he was a member of another group, joining the Beatles in 1962 replacing Pete Best. Within two years he was shopping at Earls Court for this superb French car, one of only two such cars produced.
Ringo must have felt that he more than deserved a special car. The Beatles songs practically dominated the airwaves in the 1960's. This was especially true in 1964 when, for nine consecutive weeks the group held the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 with various singles and during that period the top five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 were all Beatles singles: 'Can't Buy Me Love' 'Twist and Shout' 'She Loves You' and 'I Want to Hold You Hand' dominated the airwaves.
Ringo Starr's car. Chassis HK2 B160, a Right Hand Drive Facel Vega Facel II, bought new by Ringo, was one of only two such cars with the larger 6.7 Litre engine and manual gearbox and the very last of only 26 RHD Facel II's produced
In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand built, they were necessarily very expensive – the Facel II was priced in Rolls-Royce territory – and bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. The roll call of owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers: Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Ringo Starr, Joan Fontaine and Ava Gardner being counted among the latter. Confirming that there was high-performance substance behind Facel's unquestionable style, they were owned and driven by great motor racing figures such as Sir Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Rob Walker.
Launched in 1961, the Facel II was destined to be the last of the V8-engined models, production ceasing in 1964 after an unsuccessful venture into engine manufacture effectively bankrupted the company. Production of the preceding HK500 amounted to only 500-or-so units between 1958 and 1961 and that of the Facel II to a mere 182 (26 RHD). Today these rare Franco-American classics are highly sought after.
Sholto Gilbertson, a director in Bonhams Collectors Car department, comments: "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. As Ringo drove this car he would have listened on the car radio to the Beatles total domination of the pop charts. The sale of this car represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone who loves cars and the Beatles."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com