's Great British Cars – AC Ace/Cobra

Sat 7th Jul 2018

Great Britain, great cars. The UK motor industry is respected the world over, and though many of the vehicles are actually owned by foreign manufacturers, there can be no doubting of the fantastic heritage of the British motor.

To celebrate Britain’s famous history is launching a series looking back on some of the most famous vehicles the UK has ever seen.

AC Ace/Cobra
Though Auto Carriers, or AC had quietly being producing cars out of West Norwood, London since 1901, it wasn’t until they unveiled the aptly named Ace that they gained the plaudits of the classic car aficionados.

In 1947, as life turned to normality following the Second World War, AC had a range of 2-litre cars and it was in the process of replacing this ageing fleet of 2-Litres that they struck gold with a design by John Tojeiro. The Portuguese born, automotive engineer produced a long line of successful racing cars during the 1950s and 60s, but it was with the AC Ace that he laid his legacy.

Using a light ladder type tubular frame, leaf spring suspension and an open two seater alloy body, he put together a car which had many comparing to Ferrari’s Barchetta.

Through the 50s the AC team made continual improvements to the Ace’s engine, and when Bristol Cars installed their two-litre 120 bhp engine, the car truly turned into a sport classic.

The car raced at Le Mans in 1957 and 1958 and then in 1959 claimed top honours for the 2,000cc GT class under the guidance of Ted Whiteaway and John Turner.

When Bristol ceased their association with AC in 1961, AC’s owner, Charles Hurlock was approached by Carroll Shelby, who came up with the idea of placing a Ford V8 in the Ace chassis. This led to AC producing the AC Cobra, which at the time was considered the fastest production car in the world.

AC’s brilliance in producing classic sports cars continues to this day, and though a rarity, on the open market, a classic AC Ace can fetch upwards of $400,000.

Years of manufacture: 1953-1967 
Price when new: £2,453
Price now: £400,000-plus
Engine: 4,727cc 8cyl petrol, 271bhp
Top speed: 140mph

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