Car Catcher: Before the Cobra, We Had the AC Ace

This 1958 AC Ace-Bristol is regarded as the genesis as for the Shelby Cobra. With bodywork modeled after the Ferrari 166, fully independent suspension and power from a 2-liter, inline six, the original AC Ace was a winning formula—it's no wonder Carroll Shelby went with the Ace when it came to the Cobra. Find the Ace on offer from Bonham's Zoute sale October 11.

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slowbird HalfDork
10/5/19 11:54 a.m.

Beautiful car. Would be fun to take it to car shows and park it next to the Cobras.

wspohn Dork
10/6/19 8:43 p.m.

The AC with Bristol engine in D2 tune was a potent car.  In that tune it had 125 bhp and weighed just under 2,000 lbs, comparable to the TR-3 and MGAs.   The engine was derived from prewar BMWs.

The suspension was much older in design, going back closer to WW 1, buy the transverse leaf set up which didn't change until the Mk 2 Cobras, never seemed to be much of a handicap - like the similarly early design suspension on Morgans, the cars handled quite acceptably.

Here is one chasing my MGA at Portland. The AC used to haul like a train down the straights.


spitfirebill MegaDork
10/7/19 7:33 a.m.

A fun fact.  Bristol got the BMW engine as a war prize.  

wspohn Dork
10/7/19 10:06 a.m.

Indeed - and in return the Allies built them whole new factories (notably the VW facility at Wolfsberg) while Britain struggled along using decades old obsolete manufacturing and machinery until German interests took them over (bought the Rover Group in 1994).  Automotive irony!

Still, the Bristol engine was a pretty interesting bit of kit. They used them in ACs, Fraser Nashes, Bristol (until they went to American V8 power) and several sports racing cars like Lotus and Cooper.

If you ever get the chance, take a close look at the engine - looks like a Twin OHC engine but actually had the cam in the block with regular pushrods to the intakes, but ran the exhaust valves using transverse puchrods from the intake side to the exhaust. 

It was BMW's first oustanding straight 6 design. The S54 engine in the Z4M cars was the last naturally aspirated M version that they will ever produce, in all liklihood.   End of a line.

SweetJams None
10/7/19 9:29 p.m.

The simplicity always gets me. 

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