Ace Bristol was one of the brightest models of the British car industry of the post-war period. It possessed a distinctly sporty character and earned a good reputation among fans of style and speed.
Like all British automakers, AC resumed production and began to produce new models only after the end of World War II. The company entered the post-war market with a line of 2-liter roadsters in 1947, but it was the Ace sports vehicle, introduced in 1953, that finally cemented the brand’s reputation in the sports vehicle market. Later, to replace an aging 2-liter engine, the company adopted a John Tojairo design. The roadster received a ladder frame made of steel pipes, welded with a tubular body frame, the panels of which were made of aluminum alloy. Externally, the roadster resembled an open Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta. The newly launched model, a lightweight two-seater convertible, released in 1953 was an overwhelming success! It was fascinating that the same automobile could both race and drive every day. In 1954, based on the roadster, a coupe was released (with a so-called hardtop and a hatchback trunk). In 1956, the Ace-Bristol version appeared.
John Tojeiro’s designed-based vehicle, which debuted in 1953 got a fully independent suspension and an aluminum body. Like the basic design, the AC Ace automobile was based on a tubular frame, on which a lightweight aluminum body was mounted, made in the best traditions of Italian superleg-gera technology. The roadster got independent front and rear suspensions, according to the following united scheme: transverse leaf springs, lower wishbones, and telescopic shock absorbers. Until 1957 the car was equipped with drum brakes, which were changed to disc brakes later. The rack and pinion steering installed on the Tojeiro vehicle and pre-production cars was unsuccessful. When switching to serial production, it was replaced with a traditional one. The roadster engine also was revolutionized, developing from 85 hp to 102 hp. From 1956, 6-cylinder Bristol engines began to be offered for it by order.
Source: Henderson Fellowes
Despite their British origins, AC was not fond of conservatism, and the emphasis was on the constant modernization of their products. So, in 1956, a modified version of the vehicle appeared with a Bristol engine. This overhead valve 6-cylinder engine with hemispherical combustion chambers was developed by BMW. Also, in 1956, the model got front disc brakes and an optional overdrive was offered. Among the changes, that should also be noted was the replacement of the Moss gearbox with special Triumph TR3A gears. Introduced in 1956, the Bristol engine produced between 120 and 130 hp power. AC chose to equip their roadsters with this engine, inspired by racing driver Ken Rudd, who had the same engine installed in his car. As noted earlier, this particular engine was based on a pre-war BMW 328 design. The original configuration included 3 downdraft Solex carburetors, making the engine quite bold. The hottest version on offer, however, was the engine able to produce 130-hp at 4750 rpm. Beautiful design, easy handling, optimal weight distribution, and a powerful engine made the AC’s new Bristol model one of the best and fastest British roadsters of the time.
Source: RM Sotheby’s
The model was a notorious wrestler at various racing competitions. It performed successfully at Le Mans, taking 2nd place in its class in 1957-1958, and also won the manufacturers’ championship – 1957-59 – in class E and 1960-61 – in class D. Later famous Carroll Shelby was so impressed by this model that it became a basis for remarkable Shelby Cobra – one of the most popular wall poster cars in history.
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