The car was discovered by Richard Sutton in 1988, then writing for Classic & Sports Car magazine (before being a central player of shaping the early days of both the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Revival), but he didn’t do anything with the project, selling it to AC specialist Bill Young. Young completed the first restoration, using Shapecraft to put the body back to a standard car, albeit in ‘short boot’ configuration. Young didn’t keep the Ace long, exporting it to Germany where it stayed for ten years before being sold on to Mario Tomassoni, a wealthy Italian classic car owner, who kept it for the next ten years during which it formed part of the display of original race cars at the Mille Miglia museum in Brescia.
AE40 campaigned the Mille Miglia retrospective six times between 1998 and 2011, as well as Le Mans Classic in 2004. As can often happen, when a car doesn’t belong to a Club member or attend Club events in its home country, it was kind of forgotten about during its 20 years out of the UK – that is until its current owner tracked it down in 2015 with the help of Rob Hall of Hall & Hall.
The test drive didn’t go well – the head gasket blew – but it was irrelevant as he intended to completely restore the Ace. Under his dedicated and determined guidance, AE 40 has been restored to its current outstanding condition, with great attention to originality and detail. He appointed Steve Grey of AC Heritage, Brooklands to undertake the work. One of the many reasons was because Shapecraft, during the earlier restoration, had produced a dimensionally incorrect body, so a completely new skin was fitted to the original frame and chassis –AC Heritage have the original AC body bucks so we know now that the car is absolutely correct including its return to ‘long boot’ configuration. The plan was that eventually the current owner would extend its Mille Miglia record and complete at the highest level in ‘the Big 4’ – Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Revival/Members Meeting, Mille Miglia and Monaco Historique.
The no expense spared restoration by AC Heritage took 18 months, and visually the car was returned to how it looked on the starting podium of the Mille Miglia in 1956. A new engine and gearbox were prepared by Bristol expert Steve Stanton, and once the car was completed and assembled, it was fettled and race prepared by Jim Stokes Workshops. In 2017, AC Heritage were awarded ‘Specialist of the Year’ at the Octane Awards off the back of the restoration of AE40 to a ‘world class standard’. By this point, the original PYF 800 registration had been restored, the same as for the 1956 Mille Miglia.
The first time it was seen in public was at Salon Prive 2016, in the ‘Racing Improves the Breed’ class where it was runner up. But AE 40 was never going to be just a show car. Having not yet been driven since the restoration, and just two weeks after the lawns of Salon Prive, it was delivered to Goodwood for the 2016 Goodwood Revival (Lavant Cup), where it finished midfield as a completely ‘fresh out the box’ car (later competing at the Goodwood Members Meeting in 2019). Octane magazine then did a 9-page feature article around this time.
In 2017 and 2018, AE40 returned to Italy to compete in the Mille Miglia with the coveted Participant entry designation – it is thought that there are less than 200 original Mille Miglia race cars in existence in the world today. Cars that competed in the original Mille Miglia race are therefore pretty well guaranteed an entry, and as such AE 40 was invited to run in the 90th anniversary event in 2017. This was one of two times the current owner completed the 1000 miles around Italy. Just seven weeks later, having been back to Jim Stokes for a spanner check, it was off down to France for Le Mans Classic, ticking off the third of the ‘Big 4’ events.
Today, the Ace is absolutely on the button and is equally at home as a fast road car, on regularity rallies, or on the race track. Jim Stokes Workshops completed a complete engine and gearbox rebuild in 2019, since when it has hardly been used, and certainly not ‘in anger’. It has current HTP, FIVA and 1000Miglia Registro (P0117) papers, running as it would have done in period. There is an interchangeable disk brake conversion, engineered by Jim Stokes Workshops, road and race shod drum brake shoes, as well as the original full width screen and wet weather gear should the next owner want a little more comfort than the Mille Miglia wrap around screen provides.
The car is fitted out for regularity rallies including a GaugePilot and Peltor intercom system and all the usual extras that are required for a pass by race scrutineers.
The history files – seven in total – document the history from new with a record of every owner, including interviews with either them, their family or drivers who competed in it. There are letters of authenticity from Hall & Hall, AC Heritage and the AC Owners Club, all of whom inspected the car, along with SGS to confirm its authenticity. There are documents from the 1956 Mille Miglia, as well as photos, and photographs from throughout its life in various guises and points of restoration.
This is a beautifully restored, well known and historically significant Ace, ready for the next chapter of its life. To recap:
- One of the most historically important AC Ace’s existing
- The only Ace to have competed in the Mille Miglia in period
- Raced extensively by Mike Anthony under the Rudspeed banner in period
- Ownership known from new
- Fully researched and continuous history from new
- Original Buff logbook for EJK213 registration
- FIA HTP and FIVA documentation
- Attributed a ‘Mille Miglia Registro’ certificate, being a car that competed in period (number 0117P).
- The subject of a no-expense spared restoration by marque authority Steve Grey
- More recently looked after by Jim Stokes Workshops
- Your ticket to every significant international motorsport event
- Mechanically absolutely on the button and ready to go