Showing posts with label AC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AC. Show all posts

AC Cobra

AC Cobra 1960s American classic sports car

Rarely has the 'special relationship' - the trans-Atlantic alliance between the UK and the US - come up with something quite as special as the AC Cobra. Texan Carroll Shelby sought out AC Cars - in Thames Ditton, England. The firm had been founded by the Weller brothers - in West Norwood, London - in 1901. How would AC feel about Shelby inserting a Ford V8 engine into his take on their sinuous bodywork? The curtain was about to be raised on one of the most memorable sports cars of all time.

The Cobra's svelte lines were clearly drawn from the AC Ace. The 'Ace' was an elegant British sports car. But the Cobra's beefcake build would be boldly all-American. Shelby was a successful racing driver. When it came to the Cobra, then, he wanted power - and plenty of it. Its 7-litre Ford mill unleashed 490 wild horses - or their automotive equivalent! And the Cobra's pushrod V8 spat out torque on tap. The AC's light-alloy body shell slimmed-down power-to-weight still further. Thankfully, disc brakes were fitted all round!

The cars were sold as both Shelby and Ford Cobras. In race trim, they were Shelby American Cobras. Only 1,000 or so cars were built. Their legacy, though, will live forever - or as long as men like Shelby feel compelled to compete. There have been Presidents with less presence than the AC Cobra. Big fun, in a big country, basically!

AC Ace

AC Ace 1950s British classic sports car

The AC Ace was a sweetly-styled British sports car. It came about thanks to John Tojeiro. He was 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 template. He hung the flowing contours of the Ace bodywork on a trellis-style tubular frame. That was supported on all-independent, transverse leaf-spring suspension.

Soon, AC were casting about for a suitable powerplant for Tojeiro's handiwork. Early Aces were fitted with AC's 2-litre straight-6 motor - which had appeared just after the First World War. A replacement was required. Riding to AC's rescue came Bristol. The engine they supplied was still a 2-litre straight-6 - but it gave 120bhp - and was mated to a smooth, 4-speed 'box. Top speed had now climbed to 116mph - and 0-60 arrived in less than 10s. An overdrive gear was introduced - and a set of front disc brakes was fitted. To describe the Ace as a performance car - even in 1956 - 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 - as well as its firm suspension - made the Ace a fine-handling car. It was competitive at the racetracks, too.

So, the AC Ace was already a sound all-round package. And it was about to get even better! From '61 to '63, Aces were available with a Ford 2.6-litre straight-six - modified by Ken Rudd. 170bhp was now on tap. The Ace had always had hand-crafted aluminium bodywork ... now it had a suitably refined power-train, to match. AC Cars - based in Thames Ditton, Surrey - had excelled themselves. They had emerged from the Second World War - if not fighting fit - ready and able to look to the future. This they had done - in spectacular style - with the Ace. These days, this classic two-seater is highly sought-after - especially when fitted with a Bristol engine. AC Cars played a wise move, by teaming up with John Tojeiro. In the AC Ace, they created one of the finest sports cars GB has ever produced!