Cobra Coupe Anyone? 1958 AC Aceca

1958 AC Aceca Barn Find

Here in the states, the AC Car company is best known for the Cobra (read about its Ace cousin here), but the British company was building sport cars well before Shelby stuffed a Ford V8 in the AC Ace. This 1958 AC Aceca is based on the same Ace chassis that the Cobra was, albeit with a roof affixed to the body. It looks solid, but needs a complete restoration. It had a Ford V8 installed at some point, but it comes with a correct motor and transmission. In our book, the Aceca is in the same league as the Aston Martin DB2/4, but for considerably less money. If originality isn’t of concern to you, a V8 could be reinstalled and you would have your own Cobra Coupe. Find it here on eBay out of the UK.

1958 AC Aceca

We have to admit that we would prefer to see this car restored to original, but obviously it’s up to the next owner to decide what route to take. The Aceca came in two forms, the base model with the 2.0 liter AC straight six or the Aceca Bristol, which had a 2.6 liter Bristol straight six. This car came with the base 2.0 liter, but as stated above, the original is missing. While the added 35 horses from the Bristol engine would be nice to have, the Aceca is light enough that the 90 hp 2.0 should be more than sufficient for most drivers.

AC Aceca

When AC was developing the Ace and the Aceca, keeping weight down was a key engineering goal. The aluminum body panels were mounted to a steel tubular chassis, all adding up to a 50/50 weight distribution. One look at the Ace’s specs and it’s easy to see why Carroll Shelby went with it as the starting point for the car that would bear his name. Given the mating of aluminum to steel, we would be sure to check the mounting points very closely for corrosion.

1958 AC Aceca 2.0

With such limited production of the Aceca, we would guess that finding parts for this one could be a challenge. The seller claims all the hard to find bits are with the car and that everything else is easy to find, but let’s just hope they are right. It appears they have a number of extra parts for it and the included motor is an added bonus. On the downside, it was exported back to the UK, so for those of us on this side of the pond there is the added cost and headache of getting it back to our shores. If it were yours, would you put it back to original or would you throw that V8 back into it?

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Comments

  1. Brian

    I’ve never seen one of these before- pretty cool! Sort of the MGB-GT of ACs…

  2. Mark

    Best Barn find ever, I’ve heard of it but never seen one, for originalities purpose, I’d put in the Bristol, but then who wants a six when you can have a vee eight?

  3. George Curl

    There is one in Houston that is still owned by the original buyer. These are beautiful cars, even with the 2.0 they can bring big bucks. Sadly it will take great big bucks to bring it back to life

  4. Jim-Bob

    The interesting thing about the Bristol straight six is that it wasn’t really a Bristol engine at all. It was actually a war prize from WWII that was taken from BMW much like the original Kadet was taken from Opel by the USSR to become the Moskvitch. In fact, if memory serves, the original Bristols were nothing more than UK produced BMW’s as the entire production line had been taken to the UK. The Kdf Wagen was also offered to British manufacturers as well, but they thought it was a rubbish car that would never sell.

    • Connor

      ‘The Kdf Wagen was also offered to British manufacturers as well, but they thought it was a rubbish car that would never sell.’
      Slightly off topic but if memory serves correctly the same thing happened with the beetle when it was offered to ford.

      • cory

        the kdf wagen is what the germans called the bug before iy became the VW

  5. Bryan Cohn

    I think your comment about these possibly being on par with DB2/DB4’s is a good point. They are a bit short of HP in stock form but otherwise there isn’t anything missing other than brand.

    Seems to me even if you had $150k in it when done, you would have a DB2/DB4 level car in every way minus 100 hp (and even that could be addressed via a hopped up engine) and have $100,000 left in your pocket. That’s a win.

  6. Dolphin Member

    The Aceca coupe has been dragged up in value by the Ace Roadster, which has been dragged along by the Cobra, and a Coupe in #2 condition is now worth between $90K – $145K according to the SCM guide. They are a cheap way into a nice Brit GT compared to the sky-high values of the Aston Martins, and will probably keep going up in value.

    This one seems to have all of its parts, and more, given the V8 engine and what might be some new parts in boxes, but it will not be an easy resto. Then there’s the fact that it’s a German seller selling a car that’s in the UK, so it might be a complicated deal even if the car is worth restoring.

    Unless there’s an AC expert right next to the car to tell you what you’re in for, this deal looks to me like it would be a big roll of the dice at best, and that if you have to own an Aceca Coupe and be driving it anytime soon it might be better to buy a good driver, as usual.

  7. Bernie H

    I own an AC Ace Bristol, yup-much like this one in 2005. The pix show the original AC 1991cc(2 litre) engine which can be super expensive to rebuild. They suffered greatly from block corrosion that they actually split apart. This car is really on the borderline between restore or parts car. The current valve is near $150,000 max for a near perfect show car, a driver is closer to 90-100,000 Its nice to dream, but this one is missing too much and looks like a nightmare.

  8. Rob K

    I would be a bit wary of this one. The listing says the car is in the UK, but according to ebay the seller is in Germany and apparently it has a US title. One of the pics shows a Vauxhall Corsa with a UK number plate, so the car looks to be in the UK, but it still seems a bit fishy to me. Would definitely want some comfort in these areas before placing a bid. These are beautiful cars though. Saw one on a trip to wales a few years ago and chatted to the owner. He had owned the car from new. Seem to remember that his was a 1959 model.

  9. Plasticman

    Looks like a clunker to me. Posed photos but no real info. Cant really understand why sports cars of this era are so expensive, the price/performance ratio is not good!

  10. Horse Radish

    US title customs paid to Europe,car is in England and Seller is in Germany.
    There you got the worst of all worlds.
    Non maintained US ownership.
    UK storage , where it rusts.
    And a German seller trying to make a ‘buck’.
    On the photos it looks like one of those terrific 10 000 pieces puZZles of the ‘Battle of Waterloo’.
    Now, I could be wrong about all of it…., but at $30 000 +++ counting, what could possibly go wrong ??
    another great car in the wrong hands….

  11. Chris A.

    The AC aluminum 6 cylinder/2 liter engine dates back to the 1920s and was very advanced for it’s day. Aluminum block and head overhead cam engines were very rare and top of the line back then and going forward for decades. Not to be disparaged. That engine is considered one of the all time classic sports car engine designs.
    Good luck rebuilding the brakes too. Those drums are Alfins. Aluminum finned drum with a cast in iron ring friction surface. Again light weight like the engine, and another long time classic design. AC’s overall were way ahead on the light weight design curve. That Aceca Coupe is just plain lovely and despite the challenge should be restored. Now that he is retired, Jay?

  12. Alan

    Back 30 years ago, I went on a Road Trip with 3 other guys in a borrowed conversion van, from NW Ohio to Boca Raton, FL, pulling an empty car trailer. A weekend run, beginning Friday after work, home by Sunday evening. The goal? Retrieve and bring along one of the crew’s AC Ace. What an adventure…….
    And, I’d bet he wishes he had the car now, he sold it soon after we hauled it, which was the goal all along, IIRC. Can’t recall which 6 it had for power, but the car was really nice, clean and crisp, a real black beauty. Garnered a lot of attention from other motorists, PPL probably thought they were looking at a Cobra.
    This one? Would be a lot of fun, no matter what the power decision. But really, $30K and reserve not met yet? This one will need a TON of expensive work, and the ability to reproduce unfindable parts.

  13. Alan

    Dang… In the right sidebar classifieds which show cars for sale…. The ’69 Chevelle is the same color scheme as the one I had. A light frost metallic green, with a dark green vinyl top.

    Of course, mine was an SS396 version, and had buckets with the console shift TH400. Dang!… I’m about to cry…..

  14. Wagoner

    This is one of the best comment threads I’ve ever seen on barnfinds. Jim-Bob, Dolphin and Bernie H., and Horse Radish, good stuff all of you.

    I have lusted after an Aceca for many years, and this is the worst one I’ve seen for sale. I think you are buying a body and whatever assortment of parts the seller may have. Bernie is right when he says it’s a borderline parts car. The photos are not very revealing, but tell me enough to be wary.

    For instance, the chassis scares me. A 54 year-old lightweight tube chassis, basically unprotected for who knows how many years… I wouldn’t be surprised if it needed so much work that it essentially amounts to a reproduction effort.

    But here’s the thing: they only built a few more than 300 of these cars, and they are climbing in value. So it will get restored, even though the cost may exceed value in the short term. But I expect that a professional restorer will broker a deal on this car outside the ebay circus and it will be seen at auction, fully restored, within a few years.

    Plasticman- I would encourage you to look deeper into these cars. They are not about raw HP. The desirability is in the workmanship, fine coachwork, and the racing ambition of their creators. And exclusivity…by comparison, here are about a jillion Bloomington Gold Corvettes out there, but only a pinhead’s worth of Acecas in any condition.

    The Bristol engined cars are the most sought after, but the AC engined cars had very respectable performance and get good prices. Only a few Zephyr engined cars were built.
    Finally, there are a fair number of these in the States running around with V8 conversions done in-period and although they’re looked at as bastards, it’s fair to say that the V8 swaps have kept them on the road, and not so neglected. We will see more of these cars appear on the market because the owners are getting up there in age.

    There have been a pretty good number of Aceca projects for sale in the US the last 5 years, and all of them were in much condition than this one. If I could afford an Aceca, I would be patient but vigilant and wait for the right car on this side of the Atlantic.

  15. Dolphin Member

    Bid to and sold for US $40,099.00 on eBay.

  16. Hugh Anger

    I understand that the AC Aceca also ran a Triumph TR3 2 litre engine which could be extended to 2.4 litres. A truly lovely car which would suit my garage very well. Would love to have all the necessary to restore it to its former glory

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