AC ACE ROADSTER
AC Cars, réputé pour ses modèles sportifs mais dont la gamme vieillissait, était à la recherche d’un nouveau modèle et s’intéressa vivement à la barquette de Tojeiro et décida de la mettre en production en 1954, sous le nom d’Ace. La carrosserie de Tojeiro était pratiquement une copie conforme de la très belle Ferrari 166 MM barchetta dessinée par Touring et fut reprise sur l’Ace avec des modifications mineures. Elle reposait sur un châssis échelle à suspensions indépendantes, inspiré de celui des Cooper qu’avait également conçues John Tojeiro. En revanche, AC ne reprit pas le moteur Bristol pour son modèle et préféra rester fidèle à son bon vieux six cylindres 2 litres à course longue doté d’un arbre à cames en tête. Sa conception remontait à 1919 et ses modestes 80 ch étaient un peu juste pour une sportive moderne. On le poussa à 100 ch ce qui permit à l’Ace d’offrir ainsi des performances respectables, mais pas vraiment spectaculaires.
Notre modèle est livré neuf en France en 1958 puis retrouvé a l’arrière d’un garage, où il était stocké depuis de longues années. M. Pailler, célèbre motoriste, mettra un certain temps à convaincre son propriétaire de la lui vendre. Une fois l’affaire conclue, il entreprendra une restauration complète de l’auto et refera un moteur dont lui seul a le secret, avant de la céder quelques années plus tard à l’actuel propriétaire. Aujourd’hui prête à prendre la route, dans sa livrée rouge d’origine et équipée de ses éléments mécaniques d’époque, ce splendide roadster n’attend plus que vous!
On sale, 1958, AC ACE Roadster.
Before crossing the path of American Carroll Shelby, the AC Ace could have been a small roadster without great ambition, if not that of saving a moribund builder after the war. But the story of a creation as striking as the ancestor of the legendary Cobra could not be banal …
Although widely known since the 1960s, AC is one of the oldest British automakers. But his story was not punctuated with success, far from it. Founded in 1901 by the Weller brothers and based in Ferry Works near London, AC presented its first « three wheeler » in 1903. The company was then called Autocars and Accessories and named its model the AutoCarrier. Two letters that will become an emblem since the company is renamed Auto Carrier in 1907. The craft, simple and practical, is a great success and AC moved in 1911 in a larger factory that the Weller have built in Thames Ditton near London. With its growing success, AC decided to market its first « 4 wheels » in 1913. It is a small two-seater sports type. But interrupted by the First World War, production resumed in 1919 with the introduction of a new 1500 cm3 inline 6-cylinder engine designed by John Weller. In 1922, the name of the company became AC Cars Ltd. Heavily indebted, Weller sells shares of the company to the investor and pilot Selwyn Edge who undertakes to elevate AC to a recognized sports car manufacturer. For this, the 6-cylinder is developed in several competition. But sales decline and the crisis of 1929 puts the company to the carpet.
The brothers Charles and Derek Hurlock, owners of a transport company, bought it back in 1930 and production slowly resumed. Auto Carrier becomes AC Acedes Cars Ltd. Initially interested in the Thames Ditton buildings for their activities, the Hurlock brothers finally resigned themselves to continuing the sale of parts for the AC still outstanding which represent a significant potential market. Following an agreement with the Standard Group, a new line of cars is being developed for 1932. The Goodwood circuit designer Freddie March offers his services for the design of the new models that must reinforce AC as sports cars manufacturer. Gentlemen drivers are the privileged target of the company that is based on the saying « run on Sunday is sell on Monday » …
The Second World War again disrupts the life of AC which stops in 1940 and does not resume until 1947. The firm is limited to give a boost to seriously dated 2 liter models. Driver Cliff Davis buys the Tojeiro roadster and wants him to install a Bristol 6-cylinder engine under the hood. This requires reviewing the chassis but Tojeiro agrees. On the occasion of his first race at Goodwood, Cliff won. Successes ensued in the course of 1953 and Davis’ car soon made a name for itself in the world of motor racing. It was then that driver and gentleman Vin Davidson ordered the same chassis in Tojeiro. At the same time, the Hurlock brothers on the lookout for a model that could revive AC on the sports ground decide to take an interest in Tojeiro’s car. It will be enough for them to try Davidson’s car to convince themselves of the goodness of the idea … The conceptual simplicity of the Tojeiro roadster fits in perfectly with the limited production facilities of AC Cars. The other interest is that at the end of an advantageous agreement it is expected that Tojeiro will be paid a royalties of £ 5 on each of the first 100 chassis sold, AC avoiding a significant investment while limiting the salary of his new employee! Based on the car purchased from Davidson, which became a consultant for AC, a first prototype was built very quickly for the 1954 London show. Instead of the 6-cylinder Bristol, the « 6 Ditton » engine designed by John Weller before the war was installed. The new AC is called Ace.
Car well born, the AC Ace makes the happiness of its drivers, amateurs or professionals. After winning many victories in his class, Ken Rudd hires a car at the 1957 Le Mans 24H race. The endurance race must give the small AC roadster a significant media coverage around the world. But the Hurlock brothers, near their pennies, do not quite see the Sarthe race so well. Their plans are rather to revive the production of a sedan to develop the brand, Rudd resigns himself to finance his participation in the event. During 24H, the 6 inline Bristol proves once again its incredible reliability and the small AC ACE led by Ken Rudd and Peter Bolton finishes the race at an average speed of 157.52 km/h, which gives him a 10th place overall. The class victory scarcely escapes them, just behind the Ferrari 500 TR, but the top speed recorded in the Hunaudières at 209 km/h impresses the crowd. Among them, a car racing enthusiast came especially from Texas to win the victory in 1959 remarks the English girl almost serial that runs in the middle of the big teams and ranks 7th in the race. AC cars will be present at Le Mans until 1962, during which they will find a worthy descent: AC Cobra …
Delivered new in France in 1958, our AC Ace will disappear from the radar for a long time, found in the back of a garage, where it had been stored for many years. Mr. Pailler, famous engine builder, will take a while to convince his owner to sell it. Once the deal is secured, he will undertake a complete restoration of the car and will rebuild an engine that he alone has the secret, before selling it a few years later to the current owner. Now ready to hit the road, still wearing its original red livery and mechanical elements, this splendid roadster is waiting for you!