1959 AC Ace with Cobra 289 V8


The AC story is a fascinating one. In 1903 a 20hp four cylinder motor vehicle, known as a Weller, was built. It was the brainchild of John Weller, a talented engineer and designer, and John Portwine, a butcher and talented businessman who financed the venture. The Weller never made it into production and the duo decided to focus their attention on building a cheap and reliable three wheeled commercial vehicle. The Auto-Carrier as it was known was powered by a single cylinder 631cc engine, it had chain drive from the engine to the single rear wheel and it had tiller steering. The Auto-Carrier proved to be more efficient than the traditional horse and cart of the day and the vehicle was a resounding success.

In 1907 a passenger version of the Auto-Carrier was built and it was called the Sociable. The Company was renamed Auto Carriers Limited in 1911 and had to relocate to new bigger facilities in Thames Ditton in Surrey. The company went from strength to strength and whilst the First World War temporarily derailed the car business it was post war that really defined AC. Weller designed a six cylinder alloy overhead cam engine that with ongoing development remained in production from 1919 to 1963.

AC continued to grow and it built some wonderful cars throughout the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s. During this time AC’s cars achieved a number of significant time and distance records as well as race results.

It was in 1953 that the John Tojeiro designed AC Ace was first introduced. Powered by AC’s proven two litre six cylinder engine this elegant aluminium bodied two seat sports racing car proved to be a huge success. It was soon joined by a coupe or hard top version called the Aceca. By the mid 1950’s the AC power plant was seen as inadequate and by 1956 AC offered the car with the option of Bristol’s two litre six cylinder engine with triple carburettors giving significantly improved performance. By 1961 Bristol had ceased to build their two litre six cylinder engine and subsequent discussions between AC and Carroll Shelby resulted in AC fitting a Ford 289 V8 into their cars . . . enter the AC / Shelby Cobra and the rest they say was history.

Whilst the Cobras are seen today as the penultimate version of the original AC sports car, the AC Ace and AC Ace Bristols have become extremely sought after by collectors and enthusiasts the world over. They are light and nimble to drive and always very competitive in their class in motorsports events.

Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer a very unique and very cool AC Ace. This particular car is chassis number AEX1034, a factory LHD example that was built in 1959. According to a letter on file from AC Cars Ltd dated November 15 1991, AEX1035 was delivered new on the 15th January 1959 to Competition Motors of San Carlo California in the USA. The car was fitted with engine number CLB 9-1 2398 and its original colour scheme was vauxhaull grey with a red leather interior and a black soft top & tonneau cover.

There is a copy of the AC Ace & Acecea Register on file, with a hand written date of 1991 and it notes the last known owner as B Murillo and a comment: 5/87 Action; owner/Current engine: Ford 289 Mills.

There is an invoice on file dated 27th June 1992 from ‘Restoration Associates’ to Joe McLaughlin at Prestige Motor Cars from San Rafael, California in the USA for the restoration of the car.

The car was sold through renowned classic car brokers Fantasy Junction in 1999 to a Mr Donald Cooke from Lyme, New Hampshire in the USA. At that time the cars mileage was noted as 72,469 miles. Cooke owned the car until 2012 and it was then acquired and imported into Australia.

The car was fitted with a Ford 289 V8 engine many many years ago and more recently in 2003 a Borg Warner T5 gearbox.

Aside from the running gear and Cobra style rear bumper the car presents as a standard looking AC Ace. The car was restored some twenty five years ago and it presents today with just the right amount of patina. The paint work is bright and has a high gloss. There is the odd blemish and stone chip evident as you would expect, however, its overall presentation is very very good. The exterior trim, bright work and lenses also present well. The painted wire wheels are in excellent condition and really suit the car.

The cabin is clean and tidy and its overall presentation is very good. The seats, carpets and dash are all in good condition as are the instruments and gauges. The T5 gear lever is the only non-standard feature.

The engine bay is also clean and tidy. The car starts easily and the Ford 289 V8 makes quite the noise! There’s no doubt the engine has been ‘worked’ as it has quite a lumpy cam. Once warm the car just begs to be driven and the Ford 289 V8 coupled with Borg Warner T5 5 speed gearbox is a combination that works really well. The more you drive this car the better it gets. The car changes gears smoothly and it handles and stops as it should.

The car has a non-matching spare chromed wire wheel and a soft top with side curtains which are all in very good condition. Unfortunately the hood bows are missing.

Today the odometer reads 75,039 miles confirming the car has been sparingly used in the last seventeen years travelling only 2,570 miles!





  • -
  • AC Ace
  • 1959
  • Convertible
  • Manual
  • 75359 miles
  • 4736cc


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