1958 AC Ace Bristol

Vehicle Profiles

1958 AC Ace Bristol vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: BEX 436
Engine Num: 805 D2

Though not the fire-belching machine conjured up by Carroll Shelby, there simply would be no Cobra if there was not the Ace first. Wedded to a Bristol-powered six-cylinder engine, it would be easy to surmise just what Shelby found.....[continue reading]

1958 AC Ace Bristol vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: AEX 478

The AC Ace with the Bristol engine was a very competitive vehicle in its own right, winning races in SCCA competition and the Le Mans 2-Liter class. ....[continue reading]

1958 AC Ace Bristol vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: BEX 389
Engine Num: 738 D

AC surprised the motoring world in 1953 by announcing its new Ace sports car. Retaining the company's Bristol-BMW derived 2-liter engine tuned to 85 horsepower, the chassis and coachwork were startlingly modern with styling and design by John Tojeiro....[continue reading]

1958 AC Ace Bristol vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: BEX 450

This vehicle was originally produced with factory competition equipment.....[continue reading]

1958 AC Ace Bristol vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: BEX468

Chassis number BEX468 was number 357 of the 475 Bristols built by the factory. It was dispatched to Andre Chardonnet's foreign car dealership in Pantin, France on June 19th of 1958. The earliest known caretaker of the car was Mr. Scheisbek of Califor....[continue reading]

Roadster
Chassis #: BEX 436 
Roadster
Chassis #: AEX 478 
Roadster
Chassis #: BEX 389 
Roadster
Chassis #: BEX 450 
Roadster
Chassis #: BEX468 

History

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

1958 AC Models

Concepts by AC



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