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Lot 229: 1956 AC Ace

A Sale Of Collectors' Motorcars, Bonhams (8 June 2008)

Before 1953, AC Cars was a small British producer of cars and trucks whose products were largely unknown beyond the home market. All that changed, however, when they unveiled their Ace 2-seater, a car destined to become a sports car classic.

The beautifully styled Ace body, unabashedly inspired by Ferrari Barchetta designs of the era, was hand-formed in aluminum. The lightweight tubular chassis was largely the work of the highly respected engineer and racing car designer John Tojeiro. A lively 6-cylinder, 2-liter AC engine with single overhead camshaft powered early Ace models. Later, a Bristol 2-liter would also be available.

The Ace roadsters offered exceptional handling and performance; thanks to Tojeiro, they were perfectly balanced. Soon, Ace racers were competing in international sporting events, including Le Mans and Sebring. In the U.S., the never common Ace often placed well in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) races, even when competing against hordes of cars with larger displacement engines.

AC would produce but 689 Ace roadsters between 1953 and 1963. But that wasn¹t the end of the story‹as the AC Ace morphed into the Ford-powered AC Cobra, Carroll Shelby¹s legendary sports racer of the mid-1960s.

Records indicate the Ace offered here, chassis number AEX116, left the AC works in England on February 2,1956, destined for delivery to a Chicago customer. It is believed to have remained in the U.S. since. The odometer shows 41,000 miles.

In 1992, the vendor found the Ace in Washington State, where it was languishing after a never completed partial renovation. A fresh start was made, with a total show restoration being performed under the guidance of several renowned experts. Their combined efforts resulted in a car uniformly done to the highest possible standards with total refurbishment of the chassis, body, engine, running gear as well as bodywork, paint and interior. This documented $125,000 endeavor, completed in 2003, is charted through numerous photographs, all of which go with the car.

The Ace was finished in British Racing Green during its restoration. The black leather seats and trim, as well as the red carpeting, match the original specification.

A restorer who helped bring the Ace to its present impressive state has said, ‘Simply put, this AC approaches perfection to the extent that such standards are achievable.’ In 2003, the Ace received the distinguished ‘Best Limited Production Car’ award at the Greenwich (CT) Concours d¹Elegance Festival of Speed & Style.

Lot Details
Auction A Sale Of Collectors' Motorcars
Bonhams, Greenwich, Connecticut
TypeCar
Lot Number229
Estimate$140000-$180000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$190000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$216000
Year1956
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine numberCL 222SW
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors