AC Ace Bristol Roadster
Without doubt, the Ace remains the signature achievement of the AC marque. A prototype was introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1953 based on a sports racing car designed by John Tojeiro, and the production Ace was adapted to accept AC’s venerable two-liter, six-cylinder engine. With four-wheel independent suspension and a sleek body reminiscent of contemporary Ferrari Barchettas, the Ace immediately garnered praise. As written by Autosport tester John Bolster in 1954, “…the machine does all the right things all the time,” continuing, “that no emergency or advanced driving technique will ever catch it on the wrong foot.”
In 1956, the highly regarded 1,971 cc Bristol six-cylinder engine was made available for the Ace, effectively creating a new and separate model designation as the Ace Bristol. Initially offering 103 horsepower and rising to 125 in its ultimate D2 specification, this state-of-the art power unit, with its overhead valvetrain and efficient hemispherical combustion chambers, traced its origins to BMW’s highly advanced prewar 328 and continued to be very successful in racing well into the 1960s.
In competition, Bristol-powered Aces proved brilliant, winning three successive SCCA E-Production championships between 1957 and 1959, followed by two D-Production championships in 1960 and 1961. The Ace Bristol also scored very well at the rigorous 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it finished second in class during 1957 and 1958. Ultimately, the Ace achieved a sterling class victory as well as a seventh-place overall finish at Le Mans in 1959. This fine performance left an indelible impression on overall 1959 Le Mans champion Carroll Shelby, who later created his 289 and 427 Shelby Cobra derivatives of the classic Ace.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in January of 2011 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
125 bhp, D2-specification 1,971 cc inline six-cylinder Bristol engine, Weber carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension with wishbones and transverse leaf springs, and front disc brakes with hydraulic drum brakes in the rear. Wheelbase: 90"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel