Keith’s Blog: How I Almost Bought a Bastard AC Aceca

Strange things can happen to you at auctions. While shooting new episodes of “What’s My Car Worth” at Barrett-Jackson, one car, of the 1,405 there, caught my eye. Let’s not forget that what defines B-J is the acres and acres of highly polished, overly chromed, customized, raised or slammed, modified and stock American cars.

So when I strolled by Lot 1275.1, a 1955 AC Aceca coupe, I stopped short. It was quite handsome in its metallic gray paint and black leather interior. The car card bragged that a “period-correct” 260-ci V8 had been installed at some time — which was okay because Ford V8s were put in AC roadster chassis as well. (Those cars were called Cobras.)

I liked the car. I thought about how nice it would be to drive around with a nice American lump under the hood — far more entertaining than trying to get a finicky AC Bristol engine to behave.

I called my good buddy and AC guru Jim Feldman in Portland. I described the car, and he told me to walk away. He said that I only was attracted to it because I didn’t know anything about the marque. He asked if I would buy an Alfa GTV that had a Ford V8 installed, and I replied, indignantly, “Of course not.”

But he asked for a few pictures anyway. Five minutes later, my phone rang. It was Jim, and he said breathlessly, “That car is gorgeous, I want to buy it!” I asked about it’s cross-breed status, and he said, “the fit and finish is so nice I’d just put modern a/c on it and drive it around.”

I gently reminded him that I had found the car and therefore had first dibs. I suggested that if he wanted to trade me one of his exquisitely restored AC Aces I might consider letting him have first dibs on it, but he found my demand extravagant.

Jumping to the conclusion, we decided to bid to $50k for the car. It sold for nearly double that: $96,800 with commission.

We both agreed that at $60k, given the fit and finish of the car, it would have been a fair deal. But at the price it sold for, all of our friends would have wanted to know what we were smoking.

I found it interesting that I wouldn’t have liked the car as a bastard Alfa, but as I don’t have the same affinity for ACs, it’s absolute incorrectness didn’t bother me at all. I would have been shunned by the AC taste police, the Mustang club would wonder about the weird body, and I would be left an outcast with a home-built orphan.

So, lucky me, I escaped the red mist and didn’t come home with a car that I would always wonder why I had bought. On the other hand, if the bidding had stalled at $55k…

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market, now in its 33rd year. Keith has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and had his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity. He has received many honors, including the Lee Iacocca Award, the Edward Herrman Award, was inducted into the Concorso Italiano Hall of Fame and more. He is on the boards of directors of The LeMay Museum and Oregon Ballet Theater, and was formerly the chair of the board of the Meguiar's Award.

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