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Lot 42: AC Petite

Fine Collectors' Vehicles - Cars, H&H Sales Limited (29 October 2009)

AC - or Auto Carriers - began life in London when Portwine Butchers backed the Weller Brothers of West Norwood to build a motorised delivery cart. Production began in 1904 and by 1907 a passenger version of the three-wheeler had appeared which replaced the cargo box with an additional seat and was thus called the AC Sociable. After producing a range of speedy and glamourous sports cars during the 1930s, the company took a long hard look at the post-WW2 market. Perturbed by the lack of raw materials available, incoming government's `export or die' drive and general financial gloom, it settled on the idea of an invalid carriage. Introduced in 1953, the AC Petite was a three-wheeler roll-top convertible that incorporated some clever thinking. With a rear-mounted engine, the footprint stability of its tricycle design was superior to most front-engined rivals. In addition, the MK1 version featured an 8-inch wheel at the front and 18-inch wheels at the rear. Priced at just under £400, it was not a huge seller, so a modified variant with 12-inch wheels all round was launched, the MK2. Benefiting from a larger but still rear-mounted 350cc single-cylinder two-stroke Villiers industrial engine, the newcomer proved that little bit more usable. Aluminium bodywork kept the weight down, and two adults could fit - snugly - on the bench front seat. Several thousand were made, yet with the improving financial situation in the late 1950s, the Petite was dropped as the effects of the Suez crisis waned. Top speed was 45mph, and the 0-40mph time took but 23 seconds. Sold as a restoration project, these microcars have a strong following amongst micromaniacs. The condition of the engine and electrics is described as "unknown", whilst the paint and interior lists as "poor". The bodywork is considered to be "mostly all there". But with the simplicity of a single-cylinder two-stroke engine, and the tiny size of the vehicle, a full restoration is duty-bound to take a fraction of that of a full-size car. It is reckoned to be suitable for anyone keen on minimalist micro motoring with time on their hands for a journey, and also for the AC enthusiast who thinks he has everything. And the value of microcars is almost always inversely proportional to their size and driving dynamics.

Lot Details
Auction Fine Collectors' Vehicles - Cars
H&H Sales Limited, Haynes International Museum
Lot Number42
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£1000
Condition rating0
Registration numberYPG 448
Chassis number5660
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors