|ESTIMATE: $210,000 - $240,000
CHASSIS NO: AEX478
Long Term Storage & Ownership Both Track & Road Ready
1,971cc six-cylinder inline, chrome cast iron block engine with light alloy cylinder head, pushrod overhead valve gear, triple Solex carburetors, compression ratio 9.0:1 giving 125 bhp at 6000rpm, manual four-speed close-ratio gearbox, fully independent front and rear suspension, telescopic dampers, front disc and rear drum brakes; wheelbase: 90”
The AC name from the earliest days has been associated with performance and quality of build. The original company, Autocarrier, was replaced in 1922 by AC Cars Ltd when the original partners, engine designer John Weller and financial backer John Portwine, were taken over and control passed to S.F. Edge. The Weller legacy was significant; as in 1919 he had designed a 2-litre six-cylinder light alloy engine based on aero engine principles that was to serve the company in various configurations for 43 years before being phased out of production in 1962. From 1919 to 1925, Weller designed sleek alloy bodied racers, making the company a significant force in the competition world. With successes in international class racing, and it was the first car to cover 100 miles in one hour. The staple road cars were two-seater open tourers with a dickey seat fitted with both four- and six-cylinder engines. At the beginning of the Great Depression of 1929, Edge was forced into voluntary liquidation, and the company and its premises were taken over by the brothers, William and Charles Hurlock, for use as a truck depot for the road haulage and spares factoring business. The rest is history: The AC service facility came with the premises and the service manager and loyal customers convinced the Hurlock brothers to go into limited production from existing stock parts. By 1932, this stock was exhausted and the brothers decided to start afresh with a new range of cars. To control cost and quality there was just one chassis and one engine, that being the venerable 2-litre. The cars were staid and durable but well regarded for the fit and finish of their aluminum coachwork and simple but elegant interiors.
Fast forward to 1952 when chassis designer and sometime racer John Tojeiro decided he could do better than his lightweight MG TA. Taking cues from the BMW 328 and Formula 2 Cooper-Bristol, he produced a simple H frame chassis utilizing transverse leaf springs above tubular wishbones and rack and pinion steering, but the major innovation was a similar transverse spring and wishbone arrangement at the rear to replace the beam rear axle. Well-known British racer Cliff Davis acquired one of these chassis and installed a Bristol 2-litre engine well back in the frame and designed a light alloy open roadster based on the outline of the Ferrari 212 Barchetta. His notable successes came to the notice of AC who were looking for a new direction, and they quickly realized that they had the expertise and engine to build this simple car, so they purchased Tojeiro and virtually overnight staid old AC became a sports car manufacturer. The prototype was successfully introduced at the famous “Hundred mile an hour” 1953 London Motor Show, so called because there were over 20 cars capable of “the ton” on display. By the early winter of 1954 Ace production was well under way and a competitions department was already in its embryonic form.
At the end of World War II, the victors were awarded the spoils and the pre-war designs of BMW fell to The Bristol Aeroplane Company. This was not entirely by chance. Wartime Bristol board appointee H.J Aldington of AFN Ltd, the manufactures of Frazer Nash cars, had collaborated with BMW to sell their cars and products in Britain and knew well what may be available in Bavaria. Aldington had enough pull to have BMW engine designer Dr. Fiedler released from military arrest to assist with the development of the 328 Series 2-litre engine that had been so successful prior to the war. Bristol were going to make cars and embarked on a major update and review of the engine, utilizing the finest materials for their new luxury sports GT that became the Bristol 401. The development of the engine for road and competition in Fraser Nash and other sports cars was envisaged, and by 1952, based on the 100 Series updates, it became the BS (Bristol Sports) series and a Bristol engine in its own right.
Enter Ken Rudd, engine tuner of Ford and AC engines and sometime racer based in tthe south of England who wanted a more powerful engine for his 1954 Ace. He installed a Bristol engine for the 1956 season and immediately won nearly every race. AC jumped on the band-wagon and quickly introduced the engine as an option intended for competition, and the rest as they say is history. The AC Ace and its sister coupe the Aceca were built from 1954 to 1964 and from 1962 onwards with Bristol engines only; 228 Aces with AC engines, 466 with Bristol engines and latterly 38 with the Ford 2.6 Ruddspeed engines.
This car was built on February 9, 1958, for export to the U.S. fitted with an AC engine, and sold to F.W.Campbell of Chicago. Mr. Campbell raced the car in SCCA E division, and because of these activities, the car soon acquired Bristol engine 100D589, a special performance tuned unit by Tony Crook which had been originally supplied with chassis BEX 263 on July 3, 1957. The car would be campaigned on the track and therefore subsequently kept in top operating condition. History as of 1977 shows it was acquired by Roger Neuman of Pennsylvania from Bob Grossman Motors on Long Island, New York. Mr. Neuman said the car terrified him as it was so fast and after a year or so parked it in storage from where it was purchased by the present owner some 30 years later.
The car was absolutely straight and correct but naturally required some restoration.
Mechanically the engine has been fully rebuilt to 100D2 specifications and all other mechanical components have been fully revised. The black seats and door trim are original as found and present very nicely. The original body is in superb condition and new burgundy paint was professionally applied to match the original exterior color; a very handsome car indeed.
The car is on the button ready for a new owner to enjoy the delight and balance associated with the Bristol Ace roadster. It comes with a known history which includes a thirty plus year tenure with one owner to its current vendor who has taken all steps to ensure the car presents just as it should. It cannot be forgotten that the AC Ace, in its various forms, was one of the most successful SCCA race cars of all time, being hounded through divisions E, D, and C, all of which championships it won easily in its time. There is no doubt that this AC will make itself at home on the track for vintage racing events as well as being an ideal companion in your garage where it can be enjoyed for pleasure use. Few motorcars offer one the ability to use it not only as an everyday driver but also the ability to “drive it like you stole it” without hurting it one bit. Carpe diem!
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