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Lot No. 174 - 1960/1997 AC ACE

Not sold

A wonderful AC Ace with a fascinating provenance and very impressive specification.
Details Specification

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  • Built from a genuine Ace chassis and components purchased from the AC factory
  • The engine is fitted with one of only three aluminium cylinder heads made by the works
  • It was recently completely stripped and fast-road tuned by Rod Briggs at around £10,000
  • Only 140 running-in miles since. The car has covered a genuine 14,900 miles from new
  • Overdrive fitted is fitted which works in third and fourth gear
  • Agreed age as 1960 with appropriate road tax and MOT benefits
  • The car was completed in 1997 and is accompanied by a fascinating history file containing details of its interesting provenance and impressive specification

In the 1970's, this Ace's owner at the time was restoring an AC Aceca, '8 HPL' and during the restoration, he made many visits to AC cars in Thames Ditton and got to know the Service Manager, Fred Larrimore. In 1981 AC Cars were closing their Thames Ditton factory and Fred mentioned that they had the chassis from an Ace that had been dismantled and returned to the stores and that it would be possible to buy it (original invoice on file) and he was able to buy the chassis from an Ace that had been dismantled and returned to the stores (see invoice on file). Furthermore, Fred was able to provide nearly all the parts to complete the car, pointing out that these were not necessarily from the Ace chassis in question but that they were of contemporary Ace origin.

The parts and impressive specification for this car include:

  • Aluminium bodywork including front and rear wings; front quarter and internal panels including the inner wheel arches, boot sides and floor, main bulkhead panels front and rear and some of the minor in-fill panels
  • Other body parts included unused superstructure tubing and the bonnet, boot, and door frames
  • The rear wings were made from 18-gauge aluminium rather than 16-gauge and apparently had been formed for a lightweight competition Ace that was never constructed
  • The body was completed on an Ace 'buck' by Aubrey Finburgh at Classic Autos, including the in-fill panels between the wings
  • The superstructure was completed by Tom Bowhill from Cheltenham, who also attached the bodywork to the frame. A new cockpit floor was made and the door panels, boot, and bonnet were all attached to the ex-works tubular framework
  • The main scuttle tubing was changed to stainless steel to prevent corrosion from the exposed open ends
  • The small tubes that secure the inner wishbone pins likewise were changed to stainless as they tend to seize in the mild- steel ones and become extremely difficult to remove
  • Within the parts from the factory were an AC lightweight competition gearbox (magnesium casing) and a standard ENV differential
  • All the suspension parts are of factory origin, including wishbones, uprights, stub axles, etc.
  • The braking system with Alfin drums is factory, as is the steering mechanism that includes an original wood-rim steering wheel (these were made by the 'Cheltenham Shopfitting Company' now long gone)
  • The seats are factory items but needed alteration from Ace 2.6 (or Cobra?) to Ace shape
  • With the exception of the ammeter, all the instruments are factory and new cotton-insulated wiring was employed in the reconstruction
  • An overdrive was added after the car's completion
  • The hood and frame are proprietary items, whilst the tonneau is factory but was for a left-hand drive car and has been converted
  • The windscreen is a curved late Ace style purchased from the factory and fitted in a frame made by Brasscraft.
  • An aluminium fuel tank was purchased from the factory
  • The exhaust manifold is a copy of the original one fitted to the vendor's Aceca and was made by Len Hartley, who used to make manifolds for Formula 1 cars. A number of such manifolds were made for ACOC members

Numbered close to the original, an appropriate engine was obtained from Nigel Dawes and rebuilt by Rod Briggs. Very importantly, this engine is fitted with one of only three aluminium cylinder heads made by the works. The whereabouts of the other two are not known. Fred Larrimore stated that the head was the one used by Bob 'Sideways' Staples in his racing Ace (AE01) and returned to the works when a valve spring broke. It was included in the spare parts purchased by the vendor. The valve spring was replaced and shimmed to line up the rocker arms (the aluminium head is about 1 mm longer than the cast-iron one and this alters the rocker standard spacing) plus a new camshaft.

On completion, the car was then issued an age-related number,'YFH 54'. During this time, Fred Larrimore signed a sworn affidavit confirming that the car was a genuine AC chassis and that the chassis number was believed to be 'AE1172'. This was corroborated in a letter from the AC factory, however, the chassis had not been stamped and accordingly the DVLA issued its own number, which is present on the AC factory chassis plate.

The finished car won the AC Owners' Club's Willoughby Trophy for the Best Amateur rebuild in 1999, and the Porter Shield at the Bugatti Owners' Club Concours in 2012. It has featured in the ACOC magazine and is listed in the ACOC AC Ace Register as 'AE1172'. Photographs of the car under construction can be found in the history file together with a detailed list of the parts used in its construction and their origin.

Our vendor has thoroughly enjoyed ‘YFH54’ for the past couple of years and has spent time, money and effort in enhancing the driving experience during his fastidious ownership. In 2019, the engine expert, Rod Briggs, was commissioned to fully strip and rebuild the AC engine and our vendor asked him to fast road tune it at the same time to enhance the driving experience. Over £10k was spent and there is correspondence in the history file detailing the impressive work done. Only around 100 running in miles have been completed since the work and our vendor informs us that this rare unit with its 'factory' aluminium head has only covered 14,800 miles from new.

This is a very special Ace that was put together almost 30 years after its siblings. It has a number of unique performance and construction features and presents really well to the point of being a Concours winner, however, more importantly, it represents the passion and commitment of the man who built it, aided and abetted by a number of time-served craftsmen and specialists, men whose talent with aluminium, brass and leather was the backbone of the British Sports Car industry in the Fifties and Sixties and, although they may no longer be with us, their skills live on in this little Ace.

Year of manufacture:
1960 / 1997
Chassis number:
Engine capacity:
MOT Expiry:
Tuesday 21 April 2020
Left-hand Drive
Registration number:
YFH 54
Engine number:

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