With the debut of the Ace roadster at the London Motor Show in 1953, the staid British company joined the ranks of post-war sports car builders. The Ace was based on the Tojeiro, an earlier British racing car design that AC bought the production rights to and developed into a road car. It incorporated an attractive roadster body with AC's trusty 2-liter in-line six motor. Later these cars became famous as the basis for Carroll Shelby's legendary Cobras.
Sold for $148,500 at 2011 RM Sothebys. This AC Ace Bristol Roadster was originally constructed with the six-cylinder AC engine, prior to the availability of the Bristol motor option. Though the car was built in 1955, it is titled as a 1956 model. Later in the cars life, it was retrofitted with the 120-horsepower 100D2 Bristol engine and transmission. The current owner purchased the car in February of 1986. The car rides on its original 48-spoke, silver-painted, 16-inch wire wheels with new tires, and has its correct banjo steering wheel.
In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Amelia Island auction presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $135,000 - $175,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $148,500, including buyer's premium. By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2011
In 1956 the 2-liter Bristol engine was installed in the three-year-old AC Ace chassis, replacing the outdated S.F. Edge-designed 2-liter motor first used by AC in 1919. The Bristol six-cylinder engine was capable of producing much more horsepower and propelling the alloy-bodied Ace to a top speed of over 115 mph.
This example, chassis number BEX 229, was one of the most successful racers in its day; it won its class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1958 driven by its owner, Dr. Milo of New York.
Sold for $308,000 at 2016 Gooding & Company. The AC Ace was designed by British artisan-racer John Tojeiro. It made its racing debut at the 1953 London Motor Show and entered production with AC soon after. It was Britain's first postwar sports car with fully independent suspension. Among its list of accomplishments were five successive Sports Car Club of America championships from 1957 through 1961, a Second in Class at LeMans (1957-1958), and First in Class and seventh overall at LeMans in 1959.
In 1956, the power was enhanced with the newly available BMW-derived Bristol 2.0-liter six. This particular example, BE 172, retains its original engine, number 100D 520. It was dispatched on July 26, 1956, to Peter Gourlay of Guildford, Surrey, who sold it to Derek Morris, who retained it for 51 years and used it daily early on in his stewardship. He later drove it on trips and rallies through the United Kingdom and Europe. He stopped driving his Ace in 2006. After his death, BE 172 passed to a new owner before coming into the care of its current (U.S.) owner in September of 2011. Before coming to the States, it was refurbished as necessary, including new leather seats, carpeting and door pockets fitted to the interior. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2016
Joseph 'Hap' Dressel of Arlington, VA, was the original importer of AC cars and was the first owner of this car.
It was purchased for racing and competed in the 1956 12-Hours of Sebring where it made a flawless run with Dressel's team finishing 4th in class, 18th overall. It was raced then with its original 4' wide tires and 6-cylinder AC engine. It also competed in other early SCCA races at tracks including VIR and Watkins Glen.
Frank Morgan was the second owner and purchased it in 1957 while on a honeymoon trip with his wife Mary. He used the car for both club racing and pleasure. In the mid-1960s he upgraded the engine with period modifications converting it to a Buick 215 aluminum V8. Morgan competed at Bridgehampton and in various SCCA races in the Ace in livery in which it now shown.
The Ace spent over 40 years covered in a garage or stored.
The Ace was debuted in 1953 at the London Motor Show and was produced beginning in 1954 and continuing through 1963. The vehicle consisted of light-weight tubular chassis with steel boxes in the front and rear which supported a transverse leaf and lower wishbone independent suspension system. The chassis was designed by John Tojeiro. Power was initially provided by a Welleter-designed engine and was mounted in the front of the vehicle but placed back far enough to take advantage of balance. The body and design of the vehicle was inspired by the 2-seater Ferrari 166MM Barchetta (little boat) made by Touring of Milan.
During the first year of production, there were fewer than 60 examples produced. These were all Aces - convertibles. The Aceca, a hard top variant was debuted in 1954.
Due to the vehicles light weight, optimal weight distribution, responsive engine and handling, and stylish appearance, it attracted much attention.
In 1956 the Bristol-engine version was introduced, replacing the Welleter-designed motor. The Bristol 1971 cc, six cylinder engine was capable of producing 125 horsepower at 5750 rpm and propelling the light-weight car to a top speed of around 180 kph. Production of the Bristol engines ceased around the end of the 1950's and AC began using a British Ford Zephyr engine. It was a heavier engine and produced less power. There were only 47 of these 2.6 liter examples produced from 1961 through 1963.
The vehicles came equipped with front disc brakes, Girling hydraulic shock absorbers, rack-and-pinion steering, and a four-speed manual transmission.
In total, there were around 735 Aces and 326 Acecas produced. The AC Ace was the basis for one of the best known sports car of all time, the Shelby Cobra. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2009
The oldest British car manufacturer, AC has continuously produced vehicles since 1901 and the marque carries enormous prestige. The AC Aceca, a closed coupe, was unveiled in 1954 in London and only 328 prototypes were ever produced.
Production of the Aceca Coupe commenced in 1955 and Le Mans 1957 was a lucrative one for AC, with an AC Bristol finishing tenth overall. 1958 was an even better year as a special bodied AC Bristol that finished eighth and a standard car ninth. Produced from 1954 until 1963, the similar Bristol-engined Aceca-Bristol was also eventually available in the 1956 model year. Both of these models were hand-bult GT vehicles in the British tradition, both featured ash wood joining steel tubing into their construction. Following the 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4, the Aceca was only the second vehicle to incorporate the hatchback at the rear.
The differences between the Aceca and the Aceca-Briston lay in the engines. Though both were straight-6es, but the Aceca shared its 90 hp 2.0 L engine with the lighter AC Ace, and the Aceca-Bristol utilized a 125 hp 'D-Type' 2.0 L unit sourced from Bristol Cars. One was also able to purchase the Aceca-Bristol with a milder 'B-Type' Bristol engine of 105 hp. The Aceca was priced at $5,400 in the U.S. but the Bristol specification added another $1000 to the pricetag. A total of 151 Acecas were produced, while 169 Aceca-Bristols were built. Unfortunately production was halted quite unexpectedly in 1963.
Certain design specifics in the Aceca were taken from the exquisite design work by Pina Farina for the AC Company in the 1940s, these included in the front-end styling. The grille was simple, but the curves were perfectly executed along the hood and around the headlights. The Aceca had a superbly low weight due to the tubular frame, and aluminum body panels and the aluminum engine block. Other weight saving features were in the 16' spoked wheel and nearly perfect weight distribution in the fore/aft which also contributed to the exception handling on loose, dirt tracks. The Aceca exhibited its distinctive engineering with the front-wheel disc brakes, articulated rear half-axles, transverse 'de Dion' leaf rear suspension, worm-gear steering, curved windshield, electronic overdrive in 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear The bucket seats were also very well-designed and encased in leather in true 1950's vintage auto style.
Also very innovative for the time, the AC engine was considered to be ‘an engineering marvel', patterned after the powerful Bristol aircraft engine. The engine was a inline 6, aluminum block, overhead cam, double chain drive that was fueled by 3 inline SU downdraft carburetors, that each fed two cylinders. 6 straight-out header pipes were directly opposite and these allowed the combustion gases to enter the cylinder, do one rotation during combustion and exit oppositely, straight-out, without any resistance.
Enthusiasts consider the Aceca to be a great car to drive, though it rides a bit hard, due to the stiff suspension. Cornering and steering was done quite proficiently, but some complained that it tended to oversteer, but it was still ‘solid and predictable' handling. Consumers also complained about the inadequate rear mirrors, a heating system not properly suited to colder climates and inadequate soundproofing above 75 mph.By Jessica Donaldson
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