- One of the final ACs built during S.F. Edge’s ownership of the company
- 56-hp 2-liter six-cylinder power; four-speed transmission
- Lightweight and sporting, with many forward-looking features
- Never fully restored, but usable and attractive with appealing patina
This 1928 AC 16/56 Six Royal Roadster is another of the AC company milestones accumulated over years by Jim Feldman. Its importance is not necessarily attributable to a specific technical, design, or styling breakthrough—rather, it marks the beginning of the end of the company’s ownership by S.F. Edge. A trip through voluntary receivership was followed by AC’s eventual acquisition and long-term ownership by brothers William A.E. and Charles F. Hurlock in 1930.
Selwyn Francis Edge was legendary transitional figure in British automobiles. Born in 1868, he was a successful bicycle racer who worked for Rudge and Dunlop before taking on the De Dion Bouton agency with fellow pioneers Charles Jarrott and Herbert Duncan. He soon began a collaboration with Montague Napier and raced repeatedly in the first decade of the 20th century, often with success. In 1900, C.S. Rolls joined Edge as riding mechanic in a Napier for the Paris-Toulouse race (they failed to finish).
To put it mildly, S.F. Edge was a giant of early automobiling in Great Britain. After selling out to Napier in 1912 he went on an early form of “gardening leave” to fulfil a seven-year non-compete agreement. He became a successful pig breeder in Sussex and Controller of the Agricultural Machinery Division of the Ministry of Munitions in 1917, acquiring an AC for his commute to and from London.
The lure of automobiles was irresistible, and in 1919, when his gardening leave expired, he began to buy into AC, joining the board in 1921 and becoming chairman in 1922. Founders John Weller and John Portwine were none too pleased with Edge’s dictation and soon sold out. A series of revised and new models ensued, none of them exceptional but all of them developed to set various class records, usually over extended distances and periods.
Jim Feldman’s 1928 16/56 Six Royal (sometimes “Royale”) Roadster is a good example of the solid products of AC’s Edge era. It is powered by a 56-brake horsepower version of John Weller’s immutable single-overhead-camshaft 1,991-cubic-centimeter inline-six, and has a four-speed transmission in unit with the live rear axle—much like that used in the U.S. by Harry Stutz. A glimmer of brilliance hides behind its disc wheels: four-wheel brakes.
Finished in maroon with black fenders and frame aprons, it has aged green leather upholstery, a single side-mounted spare wheel and tire, and black cloth, top and it has been fitted with modern parking lights for safety. There are some neat details, like the “mud scraper” running boards, and its 56 horsepower gives it respectable acceleration and speed.
In the AC continuum, between the earliest AutoCarrier offerings and the refined AC 428 by Frua, Jim Feldman’s 1928 Six Royal Roadster is an important, attractive and usable milestone in British automotive history.