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By 1953, John Tojeiro’s reputation for building competitive sports racers was well-established. When friend Vin Davison approached Tojeiro to build a sports car with a Barchetta body, neither could have predicted that the model would make automotive history, evolving into the AC Ace, and later, the Shelby Cobra. After being shown at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum’s AC Cars Retrospective in February 2017, AC Ace #AE20, the car built for Davison and later pitched to AC.
Davison’s car wasn’t the first Barchetta – inspired by Ferrari’s 166 MM – built by Tojeiro. Instead, that honor goes to a Bristol-powered example ordered by Cliff Davies and registered in Britain as LOY 500. Two more MG-powered examples – registrations LOY 501 and LOW77 – were built before Davison placed his order, to be powered by a 2. 5-liter Lea-Francis four-cylinder, procured from race car builder Connaught Engineering. Delivered in the summer of 1953, Davison’s car carried registration LER 371.
At the same time, British automaker AC was desperately seeking a new model to enhance its product line, supplementing the outdated 2-Liter saloon and convertible. Ernie Bailey, whose Buckland Bodyworks occasionally contracted with Tojeiro to paint bodies bound for AC, suggested that the Barchetta may be just what AC needed to revive its business. A meeting was set up by Bailey, and Tojeiro borrowed LER 371 from Davison for the demonstration.
Tojeiro’s sports car impressed the Hurlocks, owners of AC, but an important next step would be to gauge interest from attendees of the 1953 Earls Court motor show. AC wanted one of Tojeiro’s Barchettas in its booth, but there wasn’t sufficient time to complete another example. Instead, AC bought LER 371 from Davison, offering him an engineering job developing the Ace to sweeten the deal. Tojeiro, for his role in designing the car and putting together the pitch, received royalties of £5 per car, but only on the first 100 cars sold. He also agreed to build one more bare chassis for AC, which would serve as a model from which to build the necessary frame jig.
In the transition from Tojeiro Barchetta to AC Ace, Davison’s former car received a 2. 0-liter AC inline six engine, as well as new blue paint and registration tag TPL 792. The car also received a metal-framed windshield in place of the original plexiglass screen, a folding top, interior trim and wire wheels to replace the Turner aluminum wheels typically favored by Tojeiro. The prototype retained its Morris Minor-derived rack and pinion steering, though production models would use a Bishop Cam steering box.
Ironically, the AC Ace wasn’t thought of as a racing car. As Rinsey Mills wrote in AC Cobra: The Truth Behind the Anglo-American Legend, reviewer John Bolster of Autocar magazine penned in the car’s first write-up, “It is not intended as a competition car, and no attempt will be made to develop it as such…” His prediction didn’t prove true for long, since TPL 792 competed in the December 1953 Daily Express MCC Rally, where it was driven by Cliff Davis.
In May 1954, Davison had the opportunity to race his old car – perhaps researching suspension development for the production Ace – at the Silverstone Eight Clubs Meeting, where TPL 792 took second place. Basil de Mattos was the next owner, and he ran the car in five events throughout 1954 and 1955, earning three podium finishes.
In 1956, the car sold to Robert “Bob” Jennings, who traded a Bristol engine for the AC six and campaigned the car, with reasonable success (including wins at Brands Hatch and Silverstone), through the 1957 racing season. The Ace prototype remained in the U. K., passing through four more owners, until the 1980s when it was exported to the United States, powered by a 2. 6-liter Ford Zephyr engine topped by a Rudd Speed Raymond Mays head reportedly installed in the 1970s. Actively campaigned on the vintage racing circuit, the prototype later received a comprehensive restoration, during which it was finished in the white livery it wears today.
Without TPL 792, there may have been no AC Ace, and subsequently, no Shelby Cobra. At the very least, these cars would have been significantly different from the models that forever shaped the face of open sports cars.
Avant de croiser le chemin de l'américain Carroll Shelby, l'AC Ace aurait pu n'être qu'un petit roadster sans grande ambition, sinon celle de sauver un constructeur moribond après la guerre. Mais l'histoire d'une création aussi marquante que l'ancêtre de la légendaire Cobra ne pouvait ...
- 15th Mar 2021
Chassis No: AE44 Engine No: UMB1219 Registration No: 923 CTF Previous owners: 4 including current. Eligibility- Millie Miglia (pre 1957) Of them all, the Ace was the truest sports car: it could be used for daily commuting or high-speed long-distance touring, but it could also be driven to a race meeting, campaigned ...
- 3rd Apr 2021
Matching Numbers Original LHD Outstandingly documented history! Gapless since day 1! The AC Ace was supplied new in August of 1957 to its first owner, a quiet successful hobby racer from Pacific Grove, California. In the following years, he participated in countless racing-events of the SCCA (Sports Car Club ...
- 12th Mar 2021
AC ACE BRISTOL 1958: Dark British Racing Green with Red hide interior. Silver wire wheels. Green weather equipment. A BEX chassis numbered car supplied new in California. Purchased by a friend of ours in 2000 and subjected to a meticulous restoration and subsequent diligent maintenance. Fitted with overdrive, disc brakes ...
- 1st May 2021
1965 AC ACE-BRISTOL - Original left-hand drive configuration - Fitted with front disc brakes & overdrive transmission - Bare metal restoration & engine rebuild - Accompanied by hood, tonneau & side screens The 30th Ace-Bristol produced and the 19th left-hand drive example, Chassis BEX 182 left the works at Thames ...
- 26th Apr 2021
Original right hand drive model. Matching numbers, factory fitted with overdrive. Full weather equipment. Finished in a stunning combination of blue metallic with red leather upholstery, this Bristol-engined Ace has the desirable (factory fitted) overdrive gearbox and comes complete with hood and tonneau ...
- 3rd Apr 2021
AC Ace Bristol Serie: Type 100D Year: 1956 Km: 11.513 km Detalles técnicos Type: Convertible - Roadster (kW/CV): 96/130 Cubic capacity (ccm): 1.971 Cylinders: 6 Doors: 2 Drive: Left Transmission: Manual Gears: 4 Driving wheels: Rear Petrol - Please do not hesitate to ask for further information. - We ...
- 9th Mar 2021
The Model : The directors of A.C. Cars Ltd. in Thames Ditton, Surrey, England, were prescient in their decision to adopt the pretty, low-slung two-seat roadster that John Tojeiro had built for a private customer. It wasn't long before the Bristol Aeroplane Company's 2.0-liter (120.3-cu.in.) straight-six found its way ...
- 15th Apr 2021
- Interessante Renngeschichte - "Historic Technical Passport" - Umfangreich dokumentiert - Vollständig restauriert Beschreibung: 1953 vorgestellt, war der AC Ace der erste englische Seriensportwagen mit Einzelradaufhängung rundum. Er dominierte in den Folgejahren bei zahlreichen internationalen Sportwagenrennen. ...
- 24th Apr 2021
This car is to be auctioned at our 'Important Collectors' Cars' auction at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London To view a video of this lot please click here - Original left-hand drive model - Known ownership history from new - Present ownership since 1971 - Professionally restored in the 2000s - Enthusiastically campaigned This ...
- 7th May 2021
For sale AC Ace "AC Weller engine" 1955. Very good conditions race twice time in 1000 Miglia rievocazione in 2011 and 2017. Always finish races. Only 5 owner from new, italian registration. Car is located in Brescia. Lot informations about car, history, races, restoration on: https://www.automotivemasterpieces.com/1955acacesnae71.html For ...
- 9th May 2021