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Monte Carlo majesty

Monte Carlo majesty
Several cars have been graced with the ‘Monte Carlo’ designation, but not many of them were as elegant as the Ford Comète Monte Carlo. The car can in fact be named as the forerunner of the great Facel-Vegas of the late 1950s, as the idea for a French-built Grand Tourer sprung from the mind of industrialist and Facel-Vega instigator Jean Daninos. First he teamed up with Pininfarina to build a small series of the Bentley Cresta. A beautiful car, for sure, but perhaps not quite French enough?

Enter the Ford Comète, launched in Paris in 1951. This was a French Ford unlike any other. Using the Flat head V8 engine of 2.2 litre that the Ford Vedette used, too, it was powerful. But using a Daninos-supervised Pininfarina-inspired coupe-body of aluminium made it one of the prettiest car France saw in the early 1950s. What was next? It was the Monte Carlo version, launched in Brussels in 1954. Now with truck-sourced Ford V8 of 3.9 litres capacity, it was more powerful and quicker, also due to a new gearbox. And then there was the added luxury. Wire wheels, chromed grille aperture (dubbed ‘coupe-frites’ by the French who saw it as a (French) fry cutter), air intake on the bonnet (no function though), gorgeous dash in stainless steel and lovely leather interior.

It was not meant to be, though, as the Monte Carlo proved to be way too expensive at its time. And despite its name it wasn't very succesful at the Monte Carlo Rallye either. By October 1955 Simca had taken over Ford of France and the model was dropped. Less than 800 Monte Carlos were built. Just 30 are believed to survive in France. There is one for sale at the moment in lovely two-tone yellow and black with a black leather interior. An excellent example of the breed, fully restored by its previous owner. See it for sale here.

(Words editor, picture PostWarClassic)

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