1957 AC Ace Bristol

A Superb Restoration

Initially available with AC’s own 2-Litre six-cylinder engine, the Ferrari 166 inspired AC Ace was later offered with Bristol’s more powerful six-cylinder engine and Ford’s 2.6-Litre Overhead Valve Zephyr unit. Equally at home on the road or track the Ace proved its credentials time and time again both in Europe and the USA. With countless wins and a number championships gained in production sports car championships at SCCA level in the USA, the Ace’s racing abilities could be no better proved than by its class victory at the Le Mans in 1959.

Records on file from the AC Owners’ Club indicate that this AC Ace-Bristol, chassis BEX 388, left the Thames Ditton factory on the 20th December 1957 and was exported to AC Imports, Arlignton Virginia USA. The original engine was noted as 100D737 and the car finished in Bright Blue Metaline.

In 1989 ‘BEX 388’ was repatriated back to the UK by well-known Ferrari and Alfa Romeo aficionado Stephen Griswold and sold to David Penny. Although the AC had long since lost its original engine it was otherwise complete. Mr. Penny sourced a correct Bristol engine along with numerous race spec engine internals and commenced a restoration, but never completed it.

In 1994 ‘BEX 388’ was sold to the current owner, a noted restorer and race engineer who has worked on numerous historically significant cars over many decades. In his ownership ‘BEX 388’ has been treated to an extensive and thorough ground-up restoration which was completed in 2003, since when the car has covered a mere c300 miles due to commitments with other projects.

The owner, well qualified to carry out such a task, carried out nearly all of the mechanical work during the restoration. The engine was rebuilt employing a semi-race spec camshaft and lightweight pistons with a compression ration of 10:1 allowing for fast road spec performance whilst remaining tractable. Julian Mazjub supplied a rare new/old stock distributor and a correct overdrive system; otherwise little else was required to complete the project. While the car was being mechanically restored from the ground up, Shapecraft completed the bodywork. Traces of the original Bright Blue Metaline paint were found on the body and these were used to mix up the correct shade of paint that was applied by Rod Delfield. The upholstery and full weather equipment including tonneau, side-screens and hood were entrusted to Jane Parish of Long Buckby.

During the course of the restoration it was noted that some non-factory engine mounts had been fitted to the tubular chassis frame, most likely to accommodate a V8 engine. This would suggest that ‘BEX 388’ was used in competition which would be unsurprising given that a large proportion of AC Aces imported into the United States were used for racing at club level. Whether or not ‘BEX 388’ competed in period cannot be substantiated unless any of its early history can be uncovered. Interestingly the immediately preceding chassis (BEX 387) won the SCCA E Production Championship in 1959.

Finished in its original colour of Bright Blue Metaline, ‘BEX 388’ has been restored to the highest standards by a noted race engineer, driving every bit as well as it looks. ‘BEX 388’ is a car well-known to the AC Owners’’ Club and with their support, we are sure there is early history to be uncovered. Close inspection of the car and the history file are welcome by appointment.

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