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AC Ace, registration 102 EPK.

In recent years interest in the Cobra's elder brother, the AC Ace, has grown markedly. Original examples of the 289 and 427 Cobra now command significant six-figure sums, and prices for the Ace continue to head northwards also. This photograph dates to the mid-1960's I believe, and show Ace registration number 102 EPK parked in a grassy field, at an unidentified race meeting.
When I first put this page together, in 2010, there were no references to this car available either by searching online, or checking the DVLA website. A check early in 2018, while updating the page, brings up photos of the car finished in a metallic gunmetal(ish) colour, so it does survive. The DVLA site shows a 1958 car registered with this number, although it is recorded as being yellow in colour (!), with the manufacturer given as AC (Electric) - it doesn't look much like an AC Invacar to me!??! The AC Owners' Club has this car listed with the chassis number AE 413.
The owner evidently had interests in club motor racing, at the very least. The car sports enamel badges for the 750 MC (750 Motor Club), the BARC (British Automobile Racing Club), the RAC, and also a badge for the car's maker, AC Cars Limited of Thames Ditton.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
The original AC Ace
EPK is a Surrey registration series, introduced in December 1957. Production of the AC Ace commenced in 1953 and continued, powered by a variety of engines, until 1962. Early production cars featured one of AC's own engines, a 2 litre straight six, under the bonnet, but lacked the grunt and refinement that the car was deemed to deserve. In 1956 the AC Ace Bristol went on sale, and this transformed the car into one capable of 116 mph. Given that the car above was registered late in 1957, or early in 1958, I thought it most likely to be a Bristol-engined Ace, however information that surfaced in 2018 tells that it was actually AC-powered. AE in the car's chassis number also signifies that AC's own engine was fitted when new.
In 1962, with production due to come to an end, the Ace's engine was replaced by a Ruddspeed-tuned six cylinder Ford Zephyr unit, often benefiting from the fitment of a Mays' head. Although the Ace went out of production in 1962, the basic silhouette would live on with the later Cobra, albeit with much modified Ford V8-powered running gear, nestling beneath the aluminium coachwork.
Whereas AC's earlier offerings, such as the 2-litre saloon, are less well remembered today, the legendary status of the Cobra, and the car that sired its attractive lines, are as popular now as they ever were.

More news regarding 102 EPK.

Over seven years after first publishing the above photograph, background information regarding this actual car has come to light thanks to the Son-in-Law of the Ace's (late) owner dropping me a line, in January 2018. This isn't the first time that details of specific cars featured in old photos on OCC has come to light, and hopefully it won't be the last either. My great thanks therefore to Stuart Mawby, who provides the following information on 102 EPK:
"I came across a photo you show of my late Father-in-Law's beloved A.C. Ace! I have some of the badges shown mounted on the car, and also his trophies he won in concours competitions. The car was his life until he found a wife! I can confirm that the car in fact had the A.C. engine not the Bristol one that you suggested it might have. He had the wonderful red paint undertaken by A.C. themselves after he bought the car. He used to tell me how he would drive it from his home at Rayner's Lane into central London and not worry about leaving it parked with the hood down! He drove it to numerous race meetings around the country which would explain the photo you show. I have numerous programs from the races he attended in the days of his hero, Stirling Moss. He had a vast and expert knowledge on motor racing and sports cars of his era, and only last year at a classic car event he amazed me with the precise and detailed description of various cars and engines, still with the enthusiasm of his youth. Sadly he passed away in August (2017) within a month of the event. His A.C. Ace continues to live on as I have his original A.C. Ace keyring with my Morris Minor keys, a car which he loved to be driven in and which took his ashes to his final resting place."
"One interesting point is that when my wife was born, in 1967, he sold the car for barely 500 GBP! Considering an example in similar condition now is worth a significant six figure sum, it's almost hard to believe. His first car was a convertible low-light Morris Minor, followed by a TR2, then the A.C. Ace. Then followed a Rover P6, Alfa GT Veloce coupe, and finally a Scimitar GTE SE5. He previously rode a BSA B31, and actually rode to go ice skating in the days before compulsory helmets with the skates hanging around his neck!"
"I hope you find the information of interest, it was a great car owned by a great man who is sadly missed, and I feel honoured to have known."
Thanks for the update Stuart.

Original colour photos of the red AC Ace, in the 1960s.

In March 2018, Stuart emailed over scans of several colour photos featuring his late father-in-law's magnificent, concours-winning, 1958 AC Ace reg. 102 EPK in the early 1960s, which I'm really pleased to add in here. The car truly was in superb condition. In AC Owners' Club concours d'elegance competitions, it was class winner in 1960, and outright A.C.O.C. winner in 1961, 1962, and again in 1963. Thanks for providing these colour views of the car Stuart. The first shows Stuart's late mother-in-law in the driver's seat.
1958 AC Ace 102 EPK
Rear view of the AC Ace
Three-quarter front view
AC engine
Return to Page 11 in the classic car photo gallery.
Also of possible interest, the AC Ace free parts ads page.

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