AC Cars have been in production in Britain since 1901 when John Weller set up a workshop in South London to build automobiles. The first car was shown at the Crystal Palace motor show in 1903. The company produced shells, fuses, and at least one car for the war effort during WWI. It survived the war and the name changed to AC Cars, Ltd., in 1922.
The company also survived WWII, and the AC Ace went into production in 1953. The car being displayed here today is the 1963 AC MA -200, a prototype meant to replace the 10-year-old Ace. AC had also partnered with Carroll Shelby to produce the Shelby Cobra which had gone into production in 1962. While everyone knows of the Shelby Cobra, the MA-200 would not be recognized for decades.
Code named MA-200 by the AC Company, this car was designed and built at the Thames Ditton factory in 1962 - and was destined to replace the aging AC Ace line. This prototype is one-of-one. The AC factory never produced another. Interestingly, the MA-200 was envisioned at the same time as the Carroll Shelby Cobra - which fueled a swirl of controversy: was this to be the 'Cobra?' Cobra or not, this 'idea' did become a car, built with one of the earliest HO 289 Ford V8 power plants. Thus, the MA-200 is an important 'missing link' in the lineage of the AC Ace/Cobra.
Designed by a former MIG aircraft engineer, the MA-200 was way ahead of its time, with a space frame chassis, inboard F1 style front suspension and inboard rear discs. Of particular note: This car was designed and coachbuilt at the AC factory, years before the 'AC/Frua 428' and the Frua Maserati Mistral, both of which share striking similarities to the MA-200. It is impossible to not draw a connection between these entities.
Originally to be powered by an AC-developed flat six, it ended up with a Ford HiPo 289 V8, which Ford had given AC as a reward for their 1963 Le Mans win. AC began producing the Ace with the Ford V8 engines. The MA-200, with its complicated and expensive chassis, never made it to production and became the personal car of AC chairman Derek Hurlock.
The current owner found it while searching England for a Cobra. He took the car to the Creative Workshop in Dania Beach, FL, for a restoration that has been compared to automotive archaeology. The forensic restoration of this vehicle is based off of original factory workshop photographs, and signed and dated engineering drawings obtained, as a result of thorough research by the current owner, from the car's original mechanic some 4 decades later.