Thursday, 21 December 2017

AC Ace

AC Ace
Stunning design work has not always been the hallmark of British cars.  Quaint, and respectable - certainly.  But exotic?...probably not!  Certain cars slip through the gaps, though.  In the AC Ace, Britain produced a svelte and sweetly-styled sports car.  It was all thanks to John Tojeiro - a specials builder of some renown.  AC Cars asked him to dream up something, well, special - to help transform their ageing product range into a selection fit for the Fifties.  The Ferrari Barchetta was clearly a source of inspiration.  Tojeiro, though, developed the theme, and stamped a British take on the Italian blueprint.  He hung the flowing contours of the Ace bodywork on a trellis-style tubular frame - and supported the plot on all-independent, transverse leaf-spring suspension.

It would seem that AC had developed a taste for this new-found finery!  Soon they were casting about for a suitable powerplant for Tojeiro's handiwork.  Early Aces were still being fitted with AC's two-litre straight-six - which had first appeared just after the end of the First World War.  A replacement was definitely on the agenda.  Riding to AC's rescue came Bristol.  The engine they supplied was still a two-litre straight-six - but it developed 120bhp, and was mated to a smooth, four-speed 'box.  It was now 1956, and the Ace was starting to take shape.  Top speed had climbed to 116mph - and 0-60 arrived in less than 10s.  An overdrive gear was introduced...and a set of front disc brakes was now required!  To label the Ace a performance car may have been to overstate it a bit - but things were definitely moving in that direction.  Tojeiro had specified that the engine be located to the rear of the chassis.  That - and its firm suspension - made the Ace a fine-handling car...and competitive, too, at the racetracks.

So, the AC Ace was a good all-round package.  It was about to get even better.  From '61 to '63, Aces could be had with a Ford 2.6-litre straight-six - modified by Ken Rudd.  170bhp was now at the driver's disposal.  The Ace had always had hand-crafted aluminium bodywork - now it had appropriately refined power delivery to match.  These days, this classic two-seater is highly collectible - especially when fitted with a Bristol engine.  AC Cars - from Thames Ditton, in England - had excelled themselves.  The firm had finally emerged from the Second World War - if not fighting fit - at least ready and able to look to the future.  This they had done - in spectacular style - with their AceAC Cars had had a red-letter day when they met up with John Tojeiro...he and AC combined to create one of the most memorable sports cars Britain has ever produced!

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