1958 AC Ace Bristol Roadster

The Ace retains a poise that’s absent from its meatier derivative, offering high-geared steering, enough body roll to orient the driver, and a firm brake pedal

Introduced in October 1953, the AC Ace was essentially a reworked version of LOY 500, the handsome John Tojeiro-designed sports racer with which motor trader Cliff Davis had notched up six wins and four seconds that season (in addition to placing 9th overall at the Goodwood Nine Hours).

Lured into collaboration with the Thames Ditton manufacturer by the promise of a £5 ($17.85) per car royalty fee (capped at £500, $1,785), Tojeiro ensured that the new model’s ladder-framed tubular chassis enjoyed the same handling prowess as the original by equipping it with all-round independent transverse-leaf suspension. Styled after LOY 500 (itself modelled on the Carrozzeria Touring-clad Ferrari 166 MM Barchettas), the Ace was arguably even more handsome.

Initially powered by AC’s own 1,991-cc OHC engine (dating from 1922), the availability from February 1956 onwards of Bristol’s tuneable 1,971-cc 6-cylinder unit gave the aluminium-bodied sports car a welcome boost in both sales and performance. Upgraded with Girling front disc brakes in 1957, Ace Bristols achieved considerable success at Le Mans: 1957-10th overall and 2nd in class; 1958-8th overall and 2nd in class; 1959-7th overall and 1st in class. They also dominated the Sports Car Club of America’s production championship for classes E (1957-59), D (1960), and C (1961).

BEX406 was exported new to Canada, and an accompanying Province of Ontario Vehicle Permit shows that by the late 1980s, it belonged to RM Classic Car Investments Inc. of Chatham, Ontario. Purchased by specialist U.K. dealer Brian Classic, it underwent a professional conversion from left- to right-hand drive before entering current ownership in July 1991.

Sparingly used over the last 18 years, it is understood to have covered a mere 6,000 miles since a major engine overhaul by TT Workshops of Westbury in 1992. As well as a reground/nitrided crankshaft and fresh liners, pistons, and valves, the straight-6 benefited from a new timing chain, oil pump, and camshaft bearings, etc.

Other fettling has reportedly seen BEX 406 treated to a thorough brake system refurbishment (new rear drums, front discs, hoses, etc.), a replacement clutch master cylinder, an oil filter conversion, a new hood, and fresh radial tires. Largely standard, save for modifications to accommodate a taller driver (extended pedal box, rerouted throttle linkage, and exhaust manifold), the AC is understood to retain its original bodywork and Bristol 100D engine.

Starting readily upon inspection and drawing many admiring glances on display at the VSCC’s recent Oulton Park meeting, this desirable AC Ace Bristol Roadster is offered for sale with an overdrive adaptor casting (plus notes on installation), special cylinder head torquing spanner, detachable pedal blocks, an MoT certificate valid until February 2010, and historic class (free) road tax valid until March 2010.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst - %%page%%

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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