From the Estate of the Late John J. Dalassandro
1937 AC 16/80 Competition Model Sports Two Seater
Registration no. (Formerly U.K. Registered ELN 160)
Chassis no. L631
Engine no. originally UBS 7589, now UMB 294
AC's famous Weller-designed, overhead-camshaft six entered production in 1922, by which time Weller and his financial backer John Portwine had been ousted by new owner S F Edge. Financial difficulties saw AC taken over by the Hurlock brothers in 1930 and from then on the firm concentrated on sporting cars aimed at the discerning enthusiast. The marque's reputation for producing well engineered and equally well finished cars continued under the Hurlocks' ownership, enabling AC to prosper despite the higher asking prices that these exemplary standards necessitated.
An improved, under-slung chassis of 9' 7" wheelbase was adopted for AC's 1934 range, which was first displayed at the London Motor Show in October 1933. By 1935 a flat radiator with mesh grille had replaced the previous rounded type, only to be superseded for the following season by the classic slatted version. A synchromesh gearbox was standard by this time, while other noteworthy features included automatic chassis lubrication, built-in jacks and Telecontrol shock absorbers. The combination of a generous wheelbase and low-slung chassis made it possible for the six-cylinder AC to accommodate sports-touring coachwork that was both stylish and comfortable, with 80 b.h.p. available from the '16/80' variant.
Between 1935 and 1939 just forty-two 2 seat 16/80 cars were built in two clear series, the first 28 cars had a slab tank, raised cowl low hood and narrow windscreen, the last 14 took the form of this car a sports convertible with hidden top and shapely fastback tail. Interestingly AC chose this model to try to break into the American market and in 1936-37 sent a handful of cars to this country. They were promoted or sold through English Motor Cars Ltd. of New York, with the most owner being Errol Flynn, and other notable users Gary Cooper and Frank Lloyd Wright. The venture did not prove successful though and most of the cars were returned to the factory in 1938.
This AC was delivered new to Miss Hope Edwards of Netley Hall, Shrewsbury, UK and was first registered just before Christmas on the December 22nd, 1937. Miss Edwards would later become Lady More of Bishop's Castle and kept the car up until 1951.
Previous owners have corresponded Miss Edwards/Lady More in the late 1960s and early 1990s, and some letters on file recount her fondness for the car, which she had upgraded to from a 'small Lagonda'. She recalled that the people from AC had visited her when the car was new to measure and make sure the seat fitted comfortably, and that only she and 'her chauffeur' were allowed to drive it. Pronouncing it as 'something special' and the best car she ever had, she also writes about once taking it to North Wales and driving it on the sands at more than 100mph!
Its old British buff log book charts a succession of owners through the 1950s generally in the south London area. In 1961 it was sold to David Sinnett-Jones, of Thames Ditton, close to where the car was built. Sinnett-Jones continued a racing career for the car, progressively lowering its profile, running it with cycle wings etc. By then it was painted bright yellow and was known as the 'Flying Banana', and is recorded in Jones's autobiography Passion for Life. In 1970 it went into a long term ownership for more than 2 decades, during which a thorough restoration was undertaken return it from track racer back to sports road car. The car changed hands a few further times before being acquired by the late John J. Delassandro from British dealer Brian Classic in 2007.
In this last ownership the AC saw little use up to his death last year. Today, the car presents very tidily, there are slight chips at the most used points on the bodywork being the hood catches and catches by the top cover panel, but none are of any significance. The interior remains immaculate and shows little age. When photographed the car started promptly and ran with a throaty vintage hum.
At some stage the engine which is recorded on the chassis plate has been replaced by a correct unit 'UMB 294', though importantly this retains its original tulip valve high compression head.
On file are the letters described above, a selection of photos of the car in its racing days, its old buff British log book, and a program for one of the race meetings it was used at.
A good looking British Sports car from the Thirties, this early sporting incarnation of the legendary AC brand has a known history from new.
Please note that the car has been imported and is taxes paid in the USA but has not been registered/titled.