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…