'Of them all, the Ace was the truest sports car: it could be used for daily commuting or for high-speed long-distance touring, but it could also be driven to a race meeting, campaigned with distinction, and driven home again - even if that race was the Le Mans 24 Hours.' - AC Heritage, Simon Taylor & Peter Burn.
An influential and widely imitated design, the AC Ace (and its Cobra derivative) could trace its origins back to a one-off sports-racer built by chassis engineer John Tojeiro for Cliff Davis in 1952. The success of Davis' Tojeiro sports-racer prompted AC Cars to acquire the rights to the design, which was put into production in 1954 as the Ace. The Davis car's pretty Ferrari 166-inspired barchetta bodywork was retained, as was Tojeiro's twin-tube ladder frame chassis and Cooper-influenced all-independent suspension, but the power unit was AC's own venerable, 2.0-litre, long-stroke six. Designed by AC co-founder John Weller, this overhead-camshaft engine had 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 available with the 2.6-litre overhead-valve Ford Zephyr engine installed.
AC Ace Registrar Tim Isles has kindly confirmed that this left-hand drive Ace left the factory on 20th February 1958 and was originally finished in red with black upholstery interior and matching carpets. The car was exported to the USA's East Coast, finding its first owner in Maryland, and retains matching chassis and engine numbers.
The current vendor purchased the Ace at Bonhams' Goodwood Revival sale in September 2011 (Lot 264) at which time it was said to have been discovered recently in Philadelphia by a previous owner. Believed acquired in Ohio in 1972, the car had been in storage for some 35 years. The Ace was treated to a complete mechanical 'going-over' in 2010, which is documented by accompanying receipts totalling in excess of $37,000. Works carried out include overhauling the engine and brakes, fitting a new exhaust system, and replacing the tyres.
Since acquisition by the current vendor, the Ace has benefited from further extensive restoration and is described as in generally excellent condition. Works carried out include a bare-metal re-spray by Roxwell Racing and painstaking stem-to-stern detailing by Tower Garage, Marlow, whose detailed invoice for £8,022 is on file together with a bill from another specialist for £3,275. A design classic in its earliest and purest form, this beautiful AC Ace is offered with sundry restoration invoices, current road fund licence and V5C registration document.