1955 AC Aceca Coupe
Chassis Number: AE513
Registration Number: VWJ 154
Recorded Mileage: 17,700
- Matching numbers engine/gearbox
- Previous owner for 42 years
- Much recent restoration work
The success of Cliff Davis' Tojeiro sports-racer prompted AC Cars to put the design into production in 1954 as the Ace. The Davis car's pretty Ferrari 166-inspired barchetta bodywork was retained, as was John Tojeiro's twin-tube ladder frame chassis and Cooper-influenced all-independent suspension, while the power unit was AC's own venerable, 2.0-litre, long-stroke six. This overhead-camshaft engine originated in 1919 and with a modest 80bhp (later 100bhp) on tap, endowed the Ace with respectable, if not outstanding, performance. A hardtop version - the fastback-styled Aceca coupé - debuted at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1954. The Aceca's hatchback body was constructed in hand-formed aluminium over a tubular steel framework, while the tubular chassis was more substantially built than the Ace's. To reduce noise levels within the cabin, AC mounted all major components on rubber bushes. The result was a well-engineered, light in weight and extremely pretty GT car in the best AC tradition.
Very few alterations were made to the Ace and Aceca apart from a change of engine for 1956 when the more powerful (up to 130bhp) 2.0-litre Bristol six-cylinder engine became available, while towards the end of production the 2.6-litre Ford Zephyr engine was on offer also. The Bristol six was based on that of the pre-war BMW 328, which featured an ingenious cylinder head, designed by Rudolf Schleicher, incorporating hemispherical combustion chambers and inclined valves without recourse to overhead, or twin, camshafts. Instead, the earlier BMW Type 319 engine's single block-mounted camshaft and pushrod valve actuation were retained, thus avoiding an expensive redesign. Two rocker shafts were employed, one situated above each bank of valves, giving the engine an external appearance almost indistinguishable from that of a twin-overhead-cam design. Downdraft inlet ports contributed to the motor's deep breathing, and its tune-ability made it a popular choice for British racing car constructors, most notably Cooper, during the 1950s. Externally, Bristol's clone of the BMW motor differed little from the German original, the most obvious difference being the adoption of SU, rather than Solex, carburettors part way through production. The most significant changes made by the Bristol designers were metallurgical, their utilisation of the highest quality materials contributing to greatly increased engine life. The combination of a fine-handling chassis and a decent power-to-weight ratio, helped the Ace to numerous successes in production sports car racing, arguably its finest achievement being a 1st-in-class and 7th overall finish at Le Mans in 1959.
This lovely early and very original matching numbers Aceca was first registered on 27th October 1955, fitted with the AC straight six engine and triple SU carburettors, and finished in Guardsman Blue with a matching blue leather interior. In previous long term storage for 42 years, the Aceca benefitted from a comprehensive engine rebuild before being acquired by a family friend, a lifelong classic car collector and member of the VSCC, who has undertaken further cosmetic restoration works to complete the AC to the standard you see here.
The previous paintwork was stripped back to bare metal, and the car finished back to its original shade of blue metallic. The bodywork and chassis were in remarkably well preserved condition, the coachwork requiring only preparation before being refinished. The wiring was renewed throughout, and all exterior chromework and fittings placed back on the car. New Lucas 100S lights were added, notably though all other glasswork is original, as are the door frames. The original seats are in very good order so were reinstalled alongside new carpets trimmed with the correct edging. Sitting on rebuilt 16” wire wheels (to the correct early pattern type and attached with the original AC spinners), the AC retains its drum brakes on each corner, and all suspension components. More recently the Aceca has enjoyed a tune up and general service, and we are sure with only a light amount of further preparation this will be a very rewarding car to own, drive, and possibly rally. A file of detailed images of the car is available upon request.
This wonderful early and matching number example is Mille Miglia eligible, and offered with the original buff logbook and current V5C.