1958 A.C. Ace Roadster
Chassis no. AEX 416
Engine no. CL 2347 WT
One of the most influential and widely imitated classic sports car designs ever is that of the A.C. Ace roadsteralthough, of course, much of the world associates its appearance with the later Shelby Cobra derivative, which resulted when the Ace received Ford V-8 power and a Carroll Shelby performance make-over in 1962.
The original A.C. Ace was itself a derivative. It all began with a one-off sports racer designed by John Tojeiro for driver Cliff Davis in 1952. From the very first, everyone seemed taken with the styling of the Tojeriro Special, which was overtly patterned after the era's Ferrari 166 Barchetta.
By 1953, rights to the Tojeiro design had been acquired by A.C. Cars Ltd. of Thames Ditton, near London. Within a year, a new A.C. Ace based on the car appeared. The 1954 Ace evidenced some differences from the Tojeiro Specialmost notably in the placement of its headlamps.
Beginning in 1955, the Ace could be ordered with either A.C.'s 90-hp light-alloy six-cylinder OHC engine, or a Bristol-supplied six, offered in 105-hp or 120-hp "D-type" tune. That same year, the "Aceca" fastback coupe version debuted. Total Ace/Aceca production would barely top 1,000 units.
Built on a twin-tube ladder-frame chassis featuring transverse leaf springs and four-wheel independent suspension, the Ace was a competitive sports racer in the late 1950s. Annual Le Mans efforts between 1957 and 1959 cumulated in a 7th overall showing, and a first-in-class win, for the marque in 1959.
AC Ace Registrar Tim Isles has kindly confirmed that this Ace left the factory on February 20, 1958 and was originally finished with red paintwork. It left the UK bound for the East Coast and its first ownership was in Maryland. Its interior was in black leather and is quite possibly that which remains in the car, which appears never to have been fully restored. The car is confirmed to retain its original "matching numbers" six-cylinder engine, backed by a four-speed manual gearbox. The vendor recently discovered the Ace in Philadelphia. There, it had languished in storage for 35 years. Its now deceased prior owner is believed to have obtained the car in Ohio during 1972.
The Ace was treated to a complete mechanical going-over in 2010, documented by copies of receipts totaling more than $37,000. Work completed includes an overhaul of the original engine, complete renewal of the brakes, and a new exhaust system. New radial tires were also installed. The vendor states the Ace "drives and runs superbly," and notes that it is vintage racing eligible.
A design classic in its purity of purpose and simplicity of line, this rarely offered A.C. Ace represents a great opportunity for the discerning collector.