- One of only 686 hand-built in England
- Three-owner example; maintained by race specialists
- Campaigned in the early 1960s
- Single ownership since circa 1975
- Unrestored, largely original, and raced-kitted
- Ideal for vintage racing events
In 1953, AC Cars of Thames Ditton, England, launched its Ace model at the London Motor Show. It was a sports car reminiscent of the Ferrari 166 MM barchetta with a Welleter-designed engine front-mounted on a ladder-like tubular chassis designed by John Tojeiro. A fixed-head version was added to production in 1954 known as the Aceca. From 1956 onwards the 1,971-cc straight six-cylinder aluminum block Bristol engine was made available as specified on this car. Those fitted with such are coined AC Ace-Bristol to differentiate them from the standard engine AC Ace cars. Capable of producing 125 hp with a top speed of 116 mph, it was a leap in performance. A similarly configured Aceca won top 10 positions at Le Mans in 1957 and 1958.
AC hand built only 686 Ace-Bristols between 1954 and 1963, featuring fully independent four-wheel suspension, a four-speed gearbox, and Girling hydraulic shock absorbers. So impressive was the British sports car that it was the basis for one of the most reputed race cars ever built: Carroll Shelby’s Cobra. Carroll Shelby looked in the engine bay and saw room for the new thin wall cast iron block 260-cu. in. Ford V-8, and the legendary 289 Cobra was born.
This marvelous 1959 Ace-Bristol is authentic and storied. Never restored but always meticulously maintained by race specialists, this car was originally purchased by Rod de Ronge to campaign in the early 1960s in local SCCA and club events. As stated by the original Bill of Sale, this Ace-Bristol was delivered with highly desirable front disc brakes. Special features installed by de Ronge include a stainless-steel exhaust, rare period-correct driver’s side roll bar, and Shelby anti-roll sway bar. In the mid-’60s this Ace-Bristol was acquired by Shelby and Nancy Walker of New Hampshire, who maintained but did not race the car and eventually sold it to the current owner around 1975.
Chassis BEX 1087 still bears the regalia of its halcyon racing days. Delivered in red, the car was repainted in its original color in 1988. The black/red leather upholstery is original with a charming patina. Other than the odometer, all gauges are operational and the original 16-in. knock-off wire wheels are in fine condition. The current owner had the suspension and steering fully rebuilt in 2015, and the original steering box is included with the car along with factory-original velocity stacks and air cleaners. This superb little racer comes with a portfolio of documents, original racing screen, spare wheel, windows, tonneau, and soft top with frame.
Superb in its authenticity and extraordinary for its condition, this 1959 AC Ace-Bristol is a direct progenitor of the Shelby Cobra, and in its race-kitted condition it is a perfect candidate for vintage track events and exhilarating 1,000-mile rallies.