A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £101,250
British racing driver and wizard tuner, Ken Rudd, whose business K.N.Rudd Ltd. were official suppliers of AC cars in the mid-1950s, developed the very first Ace-Bristol and it wasn't long before his hybrid was quickly adopted by the AC factory. First shown in autumn 1956, the AC Ace-Bristol and its coupé sibling, the Aceca-Bristol, were in production by the spring of 1957. Because it was not only more powerful than AC's own engine but capable of a lot more development, the Bristol unit made these cars much more suited for competition and the extra power seemed to get the best out of a very capable chassis.
The roots of the Ace-Bristol design go back to the Thirties, when BMW engine design-chief, Fritz Feider, produced a series of six-cylinder engines that culminated in the 1971-cc unit of the fabled 328. After World War II, Bristol of England "acquired" the design by somewhat dubious means and manufactured it in the UK. By the mid-1950s, Bristol was happy to supply this remarkable engine to other low volume car makers.
#BE662 was delivered in June 1958 to K.N.Rudd Ltd. to fulfil an order that had been placed by Flying Officer J H Scullard. Subsequently, it was purchased by Graham Enfield on the 25 March 1966 from Camden Motors who had had it on their stock since Feb 1966 and he was to own it until his death in 2005 when our vendor became the AC's next custodian. Perhaps with motorsport in mind (he was later to race an Aston and a Porsche) Graham took the car of the road August 1967 to rebuild it and the car then spent 38 years in various addresses, Ruislip, Maidstone and Northamptonshire whilst Graham focused on a life of working and family. In fact it appears that a considerable amount of work had indeed been carried out on the AC as, to quote our vendor, "When purchased in 2005 the chassis would roll and I asked the estate to blow the tyres up before I collected so I could put it on the trailer, wow it rolled so easily, it would appear that the suspension, brakes etc were rebuilt previously, the rusty discs were just corroded, new and unused, it came with almost all the original parts, engine, diff, gearbox, wood, seats, all in all about 50 boxes! It was so complete in the boxes that I had a new alloy fuel tank, 3 new Solex carburettors, a new distributor, and even a replacement rear window catch for the one original that had broken."
It also transpired that at some point the chassis had been modified at the rear to take Jaguar Mk II wheels as Aceca tyres were not available, however, our vendor decided to leave the chassis as altered and source some new 15” x 6.5” MWS wheels and Avon radial tyres. Progress during the next 10 years is best described by our articulate owner; "In September 2005, I bought a windscreen from Autoglazing, Huntingdon and a new rear screen was obtained from Geoff Leigh in ManchesterThe car was sent away 2006 to have the chassis grit blasted by an “Artist in Grit Blasting” to remove the green Hammerite paint and rust and they sprayed the chassis black. I did not want to remove the body but they managed to access 95% of the chassis Not knowing too much about AC cars the Aceca was slowly rebuilt and parts put back together by myself and Lewis Beales a motor vehicle lecturer, usually on a Thursday evening. We removed the head from the engine, it was all new inside and rebuilt by Bristol Motor Co and left on the garage floor but was regularly turned over by hand with oil in the bores. In 2010, the car was sent to Nigel Winchester for new sills. Seats and dash taken to Gibson Car & Coach Trimmers in Harrogate to be recovered with new leather and carpet, additional carpet and leather purchased at the same time to complete the trimming elsewhere.December 2012, the car went away for a week to Jody Arch at JA Classics Kimbolton to have a few odd jobs done and the engine to be started for the first time in 46 years which it did when the distributor was reset. It did blow oil out as the pressure relief valve was stuck after the engine had been sitting on the floor, quick removal and clean and it started fine.Nov/Dec 2013 discussions took place with ACOC and Bertie Gilbert-Smith to re-activate the original registration. This was relatively simple; the car was known to Tony Michaels ACOC from his Camden Motors days. I had the original continuation logbook and various other details and in Jan 2014 a new V5 was issued by the DVLC. With an MOT not being required the car was taxed and the insurance cover changed to include on-the-road mileage.
In December 2013, the car went to Martin Jackson at Huntingdon Coachworks for painting. How much will it cost I asked? Martin replied, are you keeping it or selling it. Keeping it, then Martin said he will do it and this was the only discussion on the cost that took place. What colour, it had to be as near to the original maroon as we could, the closest we could find was Jaguar Damask Red, a 1956 colour for a 1958 car seemed appropriate. Martin was ill in early 2014 so the car was not touched for 3 months and then he had to complete a Mini Cooper rebuild but my friends who know him well told me to leave it and be patient and in Sept 2014 and I paid the modest bill and collected it, what a fabulous job he had done, doors refitted, door gaps resolved, numerous body imperfections filled and both rear wings brought back into shape, not totally Concours but good enough. Front, rear screens, number plate glass, and rubbers were all fitted, roof rubber strips fitted, basically all the bits I would ruin if I tried. The exhaust was refitted, Martin did not like my attempt at fitting. New number plates were bought at Martin’s insistence, I could keep the old ones but it was having new ones and how right he was.Three months later, on Christmas day 2014, the car was sufficiently complete to be driven for the first time in 47 years and 5 months and ready for proper use in 2015. Small jobs would continue to occupy Lewis and I through early 2015, rear inner wings, front wheel stone guards etc. After a bit of further fettling by Jody over Christmas, the car was running better but would be taken to Pete Baldwin rolling road at Wimpole Garage on the 27 March 2015 to have him set up the engine correctly. It arrived with 122bhp and left, using less fuel, and 134bhpProfessional help used to fit the roof lining, leather bits around the rear glass and complete and trim carpets to the boot and floor. Car returned to Martin at Huntingdon Coachworks to do some final bits to the paintwork."
Eventually, the car was ready for the May 2015 ACOC National Concours in Worcestershire and subsequently won the Aceca Class at the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 ACOC events. In 2018, it also won the ACOC Hurlock Trophy as 'Champion Car and in June 2019, the 'All Comers' class at the local MG Owners Club event. Looking at factory records there appears to have been 328 Acecas built, 151 with the AC engine, 8 with a Ford, and 169 with the Bristol engine of which only 89 Bristol-engined cars were UK-registered in right-hand drive. 3759 BP is one of those 89 and with a lovely history, and looking this good, would be welcome anywhere.