That doing well, Ford began building a factory with a foundry for engine production in nearby Poissy. The future looked bright – until 3 September 1939, as France declared war on Germany, whose border was a stone’s throw away.
A new Ford of France restarted work in 1946, muddling through with an upgraded Alsace until 1948, as Dollfus persuaded Dearborn to sell the plans of a saloon that Edsel Ford and Bob Gregorie had created as a modern interpretation of the seminal Model T but which new boss Henry Ford II considered too commercially risky for the US.
The Vedette had a difficult start, primarily because war damage to Poissy and disruption in its supply chain hindered the build quality, sadly leading Dollfus to retire.
Three years later, with France starting to recover from the ruin of the war, his successor, ex-Renault man François Lehideux, approved a coupé spin-off, bodied by Facel according to plans by Italy’s famed Farina design house.
The Comète wowed all at the 1951 Paris show – and continued to do so everywhere we drove it the following summer.
“The V8 is notably smooth and quiet throughout its range,” we said. “The steering is very light, is quite free from road reaction and possesses a slight degree of understeer. In traffic, one is apt to feel rather busy at the wheel.