The AC Ace is a car that you may never have heard of, but might recognise nonetheless. It’s the car that would form the basis for Carroll Shelby’s AC Cobra, and for a time in the ’60s it was the fastest production car in the world.
Years before it was discovered by Shelby, the humble AC Ace was a popular alternative to the MGs and other small roadsters of the day. It was first released in 1953, with its design penned by John “Toj” Tojeiro of Ecurie Ecosse fame. Tojeiro was renowned for his chassis designs, which helped form the basis of much of the automotive engineering used in the mid to late 20th century.
The Ace was designed with a ladder tubular frame, independent (transverse) leaf spring suspension, and a beautifully crafted aluminium-alloy body that was made by hand using English wheeling machines. AC originally installed their somewhat outdated 2-litre OHC straight-6 engine, it was capable of 100hp and a top speed of just over 100mph.
Although this level of performance was still considered “spirited” in the early 1950s, it wasn’t long before AC went looking for a more capable and more modern engine to allow the Ace to keep pace with its increasingly powerful competition. They eventually settled on the straight-6 2-litre built by Bristol Cars, this engine with its 3 downdraught carburettors was capable of almost 120mph and 120bhp. Further improving performance was a new 4-speed transmission with optional overdrive, and the option of disc brakes on all four corners.
Considering the exceptionally light kerb weight of the AC Ace, at just 871 kilograms (1920 pounds), it was quite the spritely performer with its new 120bhp power unit. This was the version of the Ace that Carroll Shelby drove, and it left him convinced that the chassis could handle a much more powerful Ford V8 – with some suspension and braking enhancements of course.
The AC Ace you see here is being offered for sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale on the 26th of June 2015, it’s value has been estimated at between £100,000 to £130,000, which is actually pretty affordable when you consider the provenance of the model (and how much a comparable Cobra would sell for).
Click here to visit the official lot listing.
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.