Live Auctions

One Of 463! 1960 AC Ace “Bristol”

OK all you Barn Finders, it’s Gullwing Motor Cars time! It’s always a treat to see what Mr. Kumar has for sale and today it’s a 1960 AC Ace. Yup, the origin of what ultimately became the AC Cobra of Caroll Shelby fame – the car that has, and continues to cause collectors to lose their ever-loving sanity. But let’s stay with the program here and examine what appears to be a project, a rather large project – more on that to follow. This AC sports car is located in Astoria, New York and is available, here on Gullwing Motor Cars for $139,500 firm (yikes!).

Offered between 1953 and 1963, the alloy-bodied, tubular frame Ace was originally powered by a two-liter, in-line six-cylinder AC engine before moving to a 2.0-liter six-cylinder Bristol powerplant in ’56, the one that was claimed to be the prime mover in this Ace. Just a single, two-seat roadster body style, weighing in at about 1,900 lbs., was offered. Total production is believed to have been a bit over 700 copies but that doesn’t include the Cobra variations. Located in Hethel Norfolk, UK, AC Cars is still around today.

There’s not a lot to go on in this case as this Ace is engineless, transmission-less, and rearend-less (though I’m not sure what holds the rear wheels in place). Being a Bristol-powered example, this car is claimed to be one of only 463 produced. It has been sitting stored for 40 years, possibly in New Mexico based on its attached license plate. It’s missing other parts besides its powertrain componentry but the body does show as being sound without signs of rot or crash damage. The interior is curious as the seats are shot but the instrument panel, steering wheel, and gauges have faired well – I’d say those items have been replaced or restored. Something is up with the floors however as the seats are perched on what looks like a pair of thin steel or aluminum sheets and mother earth (and asphalt) can be spied about where the gear shifter belongs.

OK, so you’re looking at a $139,500 price of entry and then a whole lot of additional cabbage for the drivetrain, fitting out, reassembly, refinishing, etc. What will this Ace be worth? They don’t turn up with regularity but I did find a very nice 1957 example on Hemmings for $295,000. And a ’58 right-hand-drive version sold back in September, in Chichester, UK, for $205,000. But you know, getting into a project like this will always exceed your wildest expectations on needs – that’s just the way it works with a major restoration. We have seen outsized prices before with vehicles being offered by G.M.C. but things must pan out because there’s a continual parade of similar offerings. A stock restore seems to be the most likely path but with Cobra prices at lunacy levels, that direction wouldn’t surprise me either.

Comments

  1. Derek

    I really like the Ace/289 Cobra shape compared with the 427. I think it’s too dear; if someone were to give me that car as it is, I’d transplant a BMW six-cylinder drivetrain into it.
    And I’d paint the wheels the same colour as the body.

    Like 5
  2. mike

    Too much money since missing major Bristol parts.

    Like 12
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Too much money, period.

      Like 11
  3. Frank D Member

    No surprise on price since its Gullwing Mtrs. A sucker is born every minute.

    Like 6
    • ChingaTrailer

      Peter Kumar is an ethical gentleman to deal with. I have no complaints. Keep in mind, all prices are negotiable.

      Like 2
  4. Peter

    The ‘thin aluminum sheets’ are the actual floors of an Ace. The entire body being aluminum, the chassis is steel and would need to be checked for rot or galvanic corrosion with the body. The ‘space’ between the seats in the picture is the transmission tunnel – once the tranny is in place, there is a fiberglass tunnel cover that goes over the space and bolts to the floor. Considering an AC-engined (not Bristol-engined) Ace just sold in AZ for over $500K, if someone happens to have a drivetrain sitting around, these are simple cars to work on. And since the rear end is Dedion, the wheels/hubs are attached by half shafts to the center unit.No idea if the half-shafts are included, would need a LOT more pictures to even begin investigating the worthiness of this project. And the nose has obviously been damaged, so a thorough Fram check would be in order.

    Like 11
  5. David

    The AC’s, Cobras, even the MGA all took styling cues from early Ferrari’s from ’48 into early 50’s. All beautiful.

    Like 6
  6. princeofprussia

    The styling is perfection! IMO, the ultimate British design, second only to the XKE. I’d be willing to part with a lot of green for this baby, but not nearly THAT much.

    Like 5
  7. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    You’ve got to hand it to Peter Kumar, his business model must be working in order for him to stay in business for this long.

    His offerings will only appeal to very few of us here at BF, obviously, but he does have a particular talent for uncovering the rarities and oddities of the automotive world.

    I’ll never be a customer, but I do enjoy seeing these offerings.

    Like 6
  8. steve smith

    I had one of these in the early 60’s./ I got it from Fergus motors in NY. At gas stations I would check the gas and fill the oil. Leaky British engines.

    Like 3
    • scott m

      Had a 52 Cadillac Limo that took a quart of oil at every fill-up, but ran smooth and all day long. Traded it to someone for a guitar back in the hippy days. Crammed 17 people in it for a trip to the Fillmore Auditorium. Fun Days!

      Like 4
    • Laurence

      Stee Smith: the Bristol engine is a BMW engine…so you need to change your comment to “leaky GERMAN engine”.

      Like 1
    • Steve

      There’s an old adage among British car owners – the way to tell your British car needs oil is when it stops leaking.

      Then there’s all the Lucas electronic jokes.

  9. Bernie H

    Peter is not “out of line” on this price, considering the missing drivetrain. I have 50+ years British rebuilding including AC main frame tube replacement. I suspect the engine/trans/ rear are happily residing in another vehicle somewhere. Many AC Weller engines were exchanged for Bristols giving the car added value. A small block Ford can be installed, the purists will cringe and claim “Foul”, but may be the only way, and not too far removed from the Cobra family. A SBF engine although not correct, will lessen the value plunge verses other transplants. I still have a 58′ Ace Bristol with 12,000 factory miles, with the original tires, brakes, and exhaust

    Like 6
    • Laurence

      Bernie: a small block Ford means the car will only be worth a THIRD of its true collector value, at best. All three variants of the AC Ace (AC-engined, Bristol-engined, Ruddspeed-engined) are fetching HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars NOW. We are no longer in the ’70s or ’80s. Given that it is possible to get a Bristol engine, and that there are some Bristol specialists in England, and even the odd one in the U.S.,going to the trouble of “Cobratizing” the car is an exercise in futility. If you are going to invest in bodywork, paint, an interior, all sorts of adaptations to conert the car to a V-8–including a required stronger rear end–then you might as well go for a Bristol motor and hae the final finished product be worth something a lot closer to the potential full collector value. The days of treating an AC Ace as though it’s just some sort of kit car, are long gone. The market has decided that these are rare and valuable sports cars that are now worth a fortune..

      Like 8
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Bernie H,

      I suspect a large number of Bristol drive trains will be “on offer” in the near future. A recent YouTube video by “The Bearded Explorer” shows him visiting a huge hoard of Bristol cars and parts in the UK, and it was fairly evident that the family was intent on selling off the majority of cars & parts. It appeared to include at least a dozen Bristol engines, 2 dozen gearboxes [OD and regular] and sheds full of other Bristol spares. I’m sure the Bristol Club will know how to contact the family.

      So anyone wanting this car should grab it now & wait a little bit, because once this treasure trove of spares hits the market, the cost to find & obtain the correct drive train will drop due to supply & demand.

      About 30+ years ago, during one of my many trips to the UK, I visited the [now deceased] owner of this Bristol collection, and after mentioning I’d never had the pleasure of driving a Bristol, I was thrown the keys to one of his cars to take out for a drive. It was nice to see that very car still in the collection.

      Like 2
      • Ken Nelson Member

        So Bill, which Bristol did you get to drive? And what did you think about it?

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Ken,

        Back then I wasn’t as knowledgeable concerning Bristol cars, and I was visiting the collection as a guest of another American traveling with me on my yearly Beaulieu Autojumble trek. That said, it was a dark blue 4-door saloon, and while my notes said it was a one-off 404, I suspect it was probably a 405.

        I found the car was very quick, and handled the narrow & curvy country roads well. I didn’t push the throttle much, but it was impressive. Fit and finish was some of the best I’d seen on low production hand built British cars. This was a car he was driving as a daily vehicle, it wasn’t a restored car.

  10. Ken Nelson Member

    Glad I got my Bristol 403 when I did, with its Bristol 2L 100b engine, a 100 hp version of the exBMW 328. To me, the aero body of the 403 is considerably more car than even the AC, altho a coupe. The superleggara structure under handmade alloy body plus Bristol aircraft composite removable floor panels make it a very interesting design. But I’m not about to offer my engine to whoever buys this engineless AC – unless of course the buyer offered me a very large portion of the price of this roadster!

    Like 2
  11. angliagt angliagt Member

    When I went to look at at a couple of Cortinas,I was
    told that there was also an AC Bristol.It was in a truck –
    trailer,& had been converted to a Ford V8 drag racer
    years ago.Last I heard was that it went overseas.
    These are incredibly cool cars!

  12. skibum2

    My oh my… paid $1500.00 for AEX127 in 1975..oh yeah, doubled my money.. Hahahahaha…

    Like 1
    • Peter

      @skibum2- any pictures of AEX127 back then? I have owned it for over 20 years now.

      Like 1
  13. Peter

    For all those thinking that this was way over priced, Gullwing has already taken a deposit on the car. That didn’t take long….

    Like 2
  14. ChingaTrailer

    Why do British pilots have flat fingers? Smiths Gauges!

    Like 1
  15. Peter

    Car is already sold.

  16. Ken Nelson Member

    Bill, did the car you drove have an aircraft’s air intake opening to the radiator like a jet intake, with a scoop atop the bonnet? Being a 4 door, it probably was a 405 as I think that was the only 4 door they ever built, and only about 256 of them.

    A few yrs ago, I was able to save a stripped, rolling shell of a 405 saloon 4 door I found in Ca. near the Sonoma racetrack. The body was in v good shape except for missing the bootlid. However, much of the wood structure was shot, but the steel chassis was in useable condition. Not having shop resources then, I couldn’t do much with it, but sold it on to an owner in N Zealand who probably needed the steel chassis and/or bodypanels. It was engineless, and I foolishly thought i couldl stuff a Jag 3.8L engine in it, but no – too big. So let it go. Lovely body design tho – hope it helped another Bristol get back on the road –

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Ken,

      I have in the past referred to the radiator air intake as more like the Triumph TR-2 and TR-3. I don’t remember if there was a bonnet scoop or not, it’s been too long ago. What I do remember was the other guy with me complaining about how during our drive in the car, there was little room for him in the back seat, and he found it difficult to get in and out of the car, as the rear doors were tiny. The owner said that’s because it was a short wheelbase car, so this makes me think perhaps this was a special order 404 4-door sedan. I would be interested to know if any of the Bristol records show a 404 4-door was ever built.

      Like 1
      • Ken Nelson Member

        Bill, I’m sure if you contacted the Bristol owners club in the UK, someone there could fill you in on what that car was that you drove. if you can’t find them, let me know and I should be able to dig up a link –

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