AC Ace Roadster 1958
Chassis no. AEX 1012
Engine no. CLB 2389 WTEN
Matching numbers example
•One of only 21 built in 1958
•Original left-hand drive from new
•A landmark model in its earliest form
•Original AC-engined car
•Four-speed overdrive transmission
'Of them all, the Ace was the truest sports car: it could be used for daily commuting or for high-speed long-distance touring, but it could also be driven to a race meeting, campaigned with distinction, and driven home again - even if that race was the Le Mans 24 Hours.' - AC Heritage, Simon Taylor & Peter Burn.
An influential and widely imitated design, the AC Ace (and its Cobra derivative) could trace its origins back to a one-off sports-racer built by chassis engineer John Tojeiro for Cliff Davis in 1952. The success of Davis' Tojeiro sports-racer prompted AC Cars to acquire the rights to the design, which was put into production in 1954 as the Ace. The Davis car's pretty Ferrari 166-inspired barchetta bodywork was retained, as was Tojeiro's twin-tube ladder frame chassis and Cooper-influenced all-independent suspension, but the power unit was AC's own venerable, 2.0-litre, long-stroke six. Designed by AC co-founder John Weller, this overhead-camshaft engine had originated in 1919, and with a modest 80bhp (later 100bhp) on tap, endowed the Ace with respectable, if not outstanding, performance. Nevertheless, in tuned form the Ace enjoyed great success in production sports car racing, winning its class at the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1959. And it was the Ace's obviously greater potential that inspired Carroll Shelby to fit one with a Ford V8 engine to create the legendary Cobra.
In 1955 AC added a hardtop version - the fastback-styled Aceca - and both models later became available with the more powerful Bristol six-cylinder engine before production ceased in 1963. Towards the end of production the Ace was also available with the 2.6-litre overhead-valve Ford Zephyr engine installed. Only 223 cars were delivered with the 2.0-litre AC engine compared with 463 Bristol-engined cars and a further 37 Ford-powered examples. Today, the sublimely styled AC Ace is one of the most sought after of post-war British sports cars.
According to the AC Ace Register, this Ace left the works in November 1958 in left-hand drive configuration with engine no. CLB 2389. It was exported to the USA where the San Carlos, California based distributor, Competition Motors, took delivery. First owner Mr David Derma of San Francisco kept the Ace until 1978 when it was sold to Mr Don Cziska. Mr Cziska kept the car until 1992 before selling it to Ron Leonard of Durango, Colorado. At that time the Ace had covered only some 17,000 miles from new and remained largely original throughout, with its factory applied paint and interior intact.
A broken timing chain tensioner had caused the car to be taken off the road years earlier, so Mr Lennard embarked on an engine rebuild to return the Ace to running condition. During the overhaul, the compression ratio was raised slightly, and new valves, bearings, and timing chain installed. By this time, the car was showing its age, so it was decided to refinish the black exterior, re-chrome the brightwork, restore the wire wheels, and fit a new set of period-correct Michelin X tyres. Furthermore, the complex rear suspension was refurbished with new pins and bushes.
In 1996, Mr Lennard sold the car to Mr Bruce Toppan of Menasha, Wisconsin. Mr Toppan wanted to return the Ace to 'as new' condition and despatched the car to Wayne Obry's Motion Products, one of the USA's leading restoration specialists. Motion Products went through the whole car, making it as perfect as possible. Mr Toppan spent more than $150,000, as confirmed by the invoices on file, and following the rebuild's completion drove the Ace on two occasions (2011 and 2012) in the Colorado Grand, the 1,000-mile rally through the Rocky Mountains. From then until today the car has been maintained very carefully and is as good a condition as could be expected.
Currently registered in Germany, the car is matching numbers and comes with its soft-top, tonneau cover, books, tools, and all records. It also comes with a spare wheel, an extra set of painted wheels, a hand crank, and a quantity of spare parts. This beautiful AC Ace must be one of the finest and best prepared examples available today.
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