Monica 560 (1972)

In the late 1960s, a few years after Facel Vega disappeared, a French industrialist named Jean Tastevin embarked on an endeavour to build an ultra-luxurious saloon capable of beating Jaguar, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. Former Formula One pilot Chris Lawrence helped design the car, which Tastevin ultimately named Monica after his wife Monique and 560 to denote the engine’s displacement.

The public first saw the Monica 560 during the 1972 Paris motor show and the production model made its debut a year later at the same event. Early prototypes looked like an overgrown Panhard CD and used a Ted Martin-designed V8. The production model received a contemporary-looking, wedge-shaped body and a 5.6-litre V8 borrowed from Chrysler.

The 560, like the Citroen SM, was born at the wrong time. The 1973 oil embargo caused demand for big, fuel-thirsty saloons to collapse. The French government consequently announced and enforced strict speed limits that further discouraged motorists from buying a fast car. Tastevin nonetheless moved forward with the project and assertively priced the 560 in the same bracket as the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.

Production started in 1974 and ended a year later. Most historians agree Tastevin built no more than 17 regular-production models, though some argue the real number is much lower.