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Lot 123: AC Ace Roadster

Goodwood Revival Sale, Bonhams (15 September 2012)

The success of Cliff Davis's Tojeiro sports racer prompted AC Cars to put the design into production in 1954 as the Ace. The Davis car's pretty Ferrari 166-inspired barchetta bodywork was retained, as was John Tojeiro's twin-tube ladder frame chassis and Cooper-influenced all-independent suspension, but the power unit was AC's own venerable, 2-litre, long-stroke six. This overhead-camshaft engine originated in 1919, and with a modest 80bhp (later 100bhp) on tap, endowed the Ace with respectable, if not outstanding performance. Nevertheless, in tuned form the Ace enjoyed great success in production sports car racing, winning its class at the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1959. In 1955 AC added a hardtop version - the fastback-styled Aceca - and both models later became available with the more powerful Bristol engine before production ceased in 1963. Towards the end of production the Ace was also made available with the 2.6-litre overhead-valve Ford Zephyr engine installed. The first cars were converted by Ken Rudd of Ruddspeed before the factory took over. A 12-port cylinder head, developed by Raymond Mays of ERA and BRM fame, was usually fitted together with other internal modifications, in which form the Zephyr-derived unit produced 155bhp on triple SU carburettors and up to 170 horsepower on triple Webers. Chassis 'AE 102' left the factory in October 1955 and was first registered on 17th November '55 as 'UBP 888'. Distributed through Rudds of Worthing, it was first owned by one M Parry of Beech Hill, Middlewarberry, Torquay. The Ace then enjoyed three further owners (full details available) before being acquired in May 1968 by Derek Coates of Edenbridge, Kent, who owned the car for some 38 years, keeping it in storage for most of that time, before selling it to the current vendor in February 2006. 'AE102' was delivered with an AC engine (number 'CL2221') which still exists. David Raven of Shawell, Lutterworth (the second owner) had the Ace delivered to BRM in Bourne, Lincolnshire in 1962/63 where it was fitted with a Ford 2.6-litre engine (number '185470') equipped with a Raymond Mays Conversion and three semi-downdraught SU carburettors. This engine is to 'Stage 4' out of five stages of tune, 'Stage 5' being identical apart from triple Webers instead of SUs. BRM's extensive re-engineering also included the installation of a Moss gearbox with low 'sprint' ratios; a low-ratio rear axle; front anti-roll bar; race radiator cowl; and a Bendix fuel pump. A 0-125mph time of 25 seconds was claimed. 'AE102' was built by BRM to the same specification as the factory's 2.6-litre cars, and while not as valuable as the 36 AC-built examples, arguably is the next best thing. Derek Coates added 5x15" wheels, wide front wheel arches, side vents and modified rear lights (original rear lights available). While in the current ownership the engine has been rebuilt by Greg Margetts of Competition Engine Services Ltd (in December 2007/January 2008) producing a dynamometer reading of just over 170bhp. The rebuild included a reground crankshaft; new camshaft, pistons, and con-rods (originals retained); new clutch and lightweight flywheel; and extra-capacity baffled aluminium sump. In addition, the gearbox was rebuilt and fitted with an overdrive; the rear axle overhauled; and a new prop-shaft fitted. Seeking to lighten the car, several parts were renewed in aluminium including the brake callipers, radiator, oil-cooler, fuel tank, manifolds and exhaust. The running gear was treated to new springs, shock absorbers and rebuilt wheels. The body has been maintained and kept original, and we are advised that the car is running and functioning properly in every respect. David Raven used the Ace for 4-5 years in the mid-1960s for sprinting, circuit racing and hill climbs (see photograph entitled '64 Peterborough Motor Club Silverstone Ravens Ace' and also page 46 of 'Big Healeys In Competition' by John Baggott. The current owner has competed in the Ace in Europe on a number of occasions including the Gaisbergrennen Salzburg, the Ollon Villars hill climb in Switzerland and most latterly the Vernasca Silver Flag hill climb near Milan in June 2012. This car is to 1962 works specification, albeit considerably lighter thanks to the extensive use of aluminium components, and is therefore eligible for a variety of prestigious historic events. The vendor has been advised by the RAC that HTP papers will be available subject to the steering being changed from rack-and-pinion back to box. Accompanying documentation consists of the original logbook; various MoTs from 1968 to date appearing to substantiate mileage of 49, 900; bills for work and parts from 1968 to date; Swansea V5C; MoT to May 2012, an original handbook; and correspondence relating to topics such as the reuniting of the original chassis plate with the car after a period of 18 years.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival Sale
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood
Lot Number123
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£90000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£90000
Condition rating
Registration numberUBP 888
Chassis numberAE102
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2