Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 144,279 pages of information and 230,174 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

AC Cars: Ace

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ImAC Ace.jpeg
October 1936.
October 1936.

Note: This is a sub-section of AC Cars

AC Ace

1,991/1,971 cc six cylinder water cooled.

689 made between 1953-1963

Engine made by AC or Bristol (1,971 cc) from 1956 or Ford Zephyr engine (Later models).

Two seat aluminium open sports bodies.

It was with the Ace sports car of 1953 that the company really made its reputation in the post war years. Casting around for a replacement for the ageing Two litre, AC took up a design by John Tojeiro that used a light ladder type tubular frame, all independent transverse leaf spring suspension and an outstandingly pretty, open two seater alloy body, clearly inspired by the Ferrari Barchetta of the day.

Early cars used AC's elderly two litre, overhead cam, 100 bhp, straight six engine (first seen soon after the end of the First World War) which gave a top speed of 102 mph and 0-60 mph in 13 seconds. It was hardly a sporting engine, however, and it was felt that something more modern and powerful was required to put the modern chassis to good use.

From 1956, there was the option of Bristol Car's two litre 120 bhp straight six engine with 3 downdraft carburettors and slick four speed gearbox. Top speed leapt to 116 mph with 0-60 in the nine second bracket.

This engine was replaced in 1962 with the 2.6 litre Ken Rudd 'Ruddspeed' engine, adapted from that used in the Ford Zephyr. It used 3 Weber or SU carburettors and either a 'Mays' or iron cast head. This set up boosted the car's performance further, but it was not long before Carroll Shelby pulled AC's attention to the Cobra, so only about 40 were ever made.

In the final years of productions some Ace models were fitted with the MKII Ford Zephyr 2.6 litre straight-6 engine. These Ford engined models had a smaller grille which was carried over to the Cobra.

Overdrive was available from 1956 and front disc brakes were an option from 1957, although they were later standardized. With the engine well back in the chassis, the Ace handled well and was successful in competition.

Joining the Ace in 1954 was the Aceca hard top coupé, which had an early form of hatchback rear door but used the same basic timber framed alloy body.

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