1956 AC Ace-Bristol: The Pack a Powerful Punch

1956 AC Ace-Bristol: The Pack a Powerful Punch

Engine Inline 6 Horsepower 120 BHP (77.28 KW) @ 5000 RPMTorque 130 Ft-Lbs (167 NM) @ 3750 RPMEngine Location Front Drive Type RWD Weight 1686 lbs | 764.757 kgTransmission 4-step manual

The AC Ace-Bristol was a remarkable piece of automotive engineering that exuded a timeless elegance and undeniable performance prowess. Its sleek lines and nimble handling made it a standout on the road, while its powerful engine roared with the ferocity of a lion. 

Source: Vintage Car Collector

The AC Ace-Bristol was a remarkable example of British engineering during the mid-20th century. It was more than just a sports car; it was a work of art, meticulously designed to combine form and function in a way that would provide an unparalleled driving experience. Its stunning exterior and powerful performance were a testament to the ingenuity and passion of its creators, and they captured the hearts of automobile enthusiasts around the world. The Ace-Bristol became an icon of the golden age of sports cars, and it continues to be celebrated today as a symbol of the technological advancements and creative vision of that era.

The origins

Source: RM Sotheby’s

The story of the AC’s famous model is a tale of a small British automaker taking on the big names in sports vehicle racing and coming out on top. It began with a new lightweight chassis designed by John Tojeiro, which caught the eye of AC’s in-house stylist, Alan Turner. Turner’s sleek and aerodynamic body design, coupled with a small 2.0-liter engine, created the original AC Ace. While the Ace was a stylish and lightweight sports car, it struggled to keep up with its rivals on the track. AC knew they needed a more powerful engine to compete, and found it in Bristol Cars’ 2.0-liter, six-cylinder engine in 1956. With 120 horsepower under the hood, the Ace was transformed into the model, and it was an immediate hit with racing enthusiasts. The Ace-Bristol’s debut in the 1957 24 Hours of Le Man’s race was a turning point. Three automobiles entered the race and finished an impressive 7th, 8th, and 10th overall. This was a significant achievement for a small British automaker and put the model on the map as a contender in the sports car world. In the years that followed, the Ace-Bristol continued to win races and gain a loyal following. The 1961 introduction of the Cobra, which used a Ford V8 engine, marked the end of the model’s production, but it remains a classic car that is still celebrated today for its exceptional handling, lightweight design, and classic British style. The Ace-Bristol’s legacy is a testament to the vision, ingenuity, and passion of those who designed and built it, and it will continue to captivate car enthusiasts for generations to come.

The 1956 model year

Source: AC Heritage

For the 1956 model year, the AC Ace-Bristol showcased an array of remarkable features. Beneath the bonnet, the 1956 iteration was equipped with a Bristol-derived 2.0-liter inline-six engine. This powerplant had been meticulously tuned to deliver 120 horsepower, showcasing a torque output of 130 lb-ft. The engine’s construction from alloy material not only promoted lightweight characteristics but also contributed to the car’s agile handling. Power transmission to the rear wheels was facilitated by a four-speed manual gearbox, infusing the vehicle with an engaging driving experience. The synchromesh-equipped transmission ensured seamless gear transitions, thereby enhancing overall drivability. The model relied on a ladder-frame chassis, delivering robust structural rigidity and durability. Complemented by an independent front suspension utilizing coil springs and an anti-roll bar, the car exhibited precision handling and a comfortable ride. At the rear, a live axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs contributed to the vehicle’s harmonious performance characteristics. Impressive braking capabilities were delivered through hydraulic drum brakes located at all four corners, showcasing remarkable stopping power by the standards of its era. The brake system had been intricately calibrated to ensure control and stability even during high-speed deceleration. Within the cabin of the 1956 version, an aura of classic elegance enveloped passengers. Premium materials, including supple leather upholstery and tasteful wood accents, contributed to an atmosphere of refinement. The minimalist dashboard design thoughtfully placed essential instrumentation within easy view, prioritizing driver-focused interaction. Comfort and support were generously offered by the seating arrangement, catering to both the driver and passengers. Ergonomically positioned controls provided intuitive access to a range of vehicle functions, thus enhancing the overall driving experience. Despite its vintage nature, the cabin boasted well-engineered ventilation and climate control systems, significantly enhancing occupant comfort. The exterior design of the 1956 edition seamlessly married aesthetics with aerodynamics, resulting in a sleek and timeless silhouette. The vehicle’s well-proportioned lines, gently curving fenders, and purposeful stance collectively contributed to its iconic presence. Constructed with meticulous attention to detail, the body of the vehicle was shaped from lightweight aluminum panels, exemplifying the fusion of performance and aesthetics. A distinctive scoop graced the hood, enhancing engine cooling efficiency while adding a touch of sporty flair. Characteristic elements such as the prominent front grille, circular headlights, and subtly integrated bumpers embodied the design cues of the era.

Did you know?

Source: eBay

Carroll Shelby, the famous American race car driver, and designer, was one of the renowned owners of the 1956 edition. Shelby competed with his vehicle in several sports car races during the late 1950s, including the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also made modifications to the car’s engine and suspension, which later influenced his work in developing high-performance engines for the Shelby Cobra. 

Shelby’s ownership of this model helped to establish the car’s reputation as a performance-oriented sports car that could compete with the best vehicles of its time. The car’s lightweight aluminum body and powerful engine made it a favorite among racing enthusiasts, and its iconic design helped to solidify its place as one of the most coveted sports cars of the golden age of sports cars.

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1956 AC Ace-Bristol: The Pack a Powerful Punch

Engine Inline 6 Horsepower 120 BHP (77.28 KW) @ 5000 RPMTorque 130 Ft-Lbs (167 NM) @ 3750 RPMEngine Location Front Drive Type RWD Weight 1686 lbs | 764.757 kgTransmission 4-step manual

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