1960 AC Aceca
AC cars is a name synonymous with some of the most iconic cars of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, with the AC Ace, the Aceca and of course the AC Cobra. As Britain’s oldest motor manufacturer, dating back to 1901, the AC name carries much prestige, international recognition and ranks alongside other major worldwide historic marques.
Production of the AC Aceca started in 1954, a year later than the AC Ace. Based on the open two-seat AC Ace, the Aceca with its hand-built, lightweight, aluminium body, followed British tradition with ash wood frame and steel tubing used in their construction. One notable feature was the hatchback door at the rear, making the Aceca only the second car, after the 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4, to incorporate this element.
The distinctively handsome front-end styling of the Ace and Aceca reportedly traces back to a design suggested by Pininfarina for AC in the late 1940s. Although the Aceca was closely related to the Ace, with similar front and rear styling, no body panels were shared between the two. The chassis was similar to that of the Ace, but it had heavier-duty main rails, an extra crossmember and rubber mountings for the differential to reduce the amount of road noise transmitted to the cabin.
It was billed as a grand tourer, and sold with more luxury features than the roadster. The Aceca’s well appointed interior is refined and sporty with its curved windscreen, leather clad bucket seats and carpeted rear section. The hatchback rear door and spacious open rear shelf is ideal for luggage and tools alike.
The cars lightweight sporty nature is very much owed to its tubular frame, aluminium engine block and aluminium body panels. With independent, transverse leaf sprung suspension front and rear and large 16″ wire road wheels, the near 50/50 weight distribution allowed exceptional handling. The Aceca gained front-wheel disc brakes in 1957, as can be seen on this car. Powered by either AC’s proven straight six, 2-litre engine or the 2-Litre Bristol engine; a small number of cars were also fitted with the Ford Rudd Speed engine towards the end of production.
The stunning, matching numbers example you see here, chassis AE 805, was ordered from K.N. Rudd of Worthing on the 8th June 1960 with the 6-cylinder AC engine by T.A. Alston of Eastbourne in the name of his company, Alstons Corsetry Ltd. Registered 240 RPD, it is one of only 151 AC engined examples made. Mr. Alston placed the order for the Aceca following a visit to the AC factory at Thames Ditton in May 1960, where he test drove an Aceca and was put in contact with K.N. Rudd. At the time of ordering, no colour was specified as it was still to be chosen. AE 805 was ordered at a cost of £2201 minus the part exchange value of his previous AC, a 1951 2-Litre Saloon, which deducted £200 from the purchase price.
Mr. Alston specified that he wanted the handbrake to be fitted on the right hand side of the driver’s seat, rather than the left as standard and also that no suppliers transfers were to be put anywhere, other than under the bonnet. The colour was decided on within a few days. Letters from Mr. Alston to K.N. Rudd describe how the Aceca was to be supplied in Princess Blue with Red leather interior and was to be collected from the AC factory. The AC Cars Limited Warranty Card was issued on 21st July 1960, at the time of collection and remains with the car to this day.
Mr Alston, who was also an amateur racing driver, owned and cherished the Aceca for just shy of fifty years, finally selling it in 2009 when his health deteriorated. As can be seen by the wealth of AC Cars Limited invoices in the file, Mr Alston stayed loyal and regularly had the Aceca serviced and MOT’d by them.
In 2009, AE 805 was bought by Mr Kevin Potterton who commissioned AC Heritage to undertake a full bare metal restoration of AE 805. The car was completely stripped back to bare metal and then underwent a ground up, nut and bolt restoration. The original matching numbers engine was rebuilt. The history file contains an extensive photographic record of the restoration, comprising of well over 100 photographs. Completed in early 2017, AE 805 is now in superb condition and has been returned to its former glory, in the same specifications as it left the AC Factory in 1960.
Very much the epitome of a 1950s sports car and arguably ahead of its time, it is very easy to see why these wonderfully elegant and nimble sports cars have continued to captivate the hearts of drivers over the decades and have been so widely used for rallies, tours and competition alike. A joy to drive on the open road, the AC Aceca is one of the most refined British sports cars of a golden era and it is a rare delight to be able to offer such a beautifully appointed, well documented, matching numbers example such as this. Still remarkably only in its third ownership since new.