AC Owners Club Diamond Jubilee – Brooklands – July 2009

It was the publicity material which promised the largest ever gathering of cars from that very British manufacturer, AC, that attracted me to this event, a meeting at the historic Brooklands site of the AC Owners Club, as part of their diamond jubilee celebrations. Undeterred by rather disappointing weather, a significant number of them did indeed turn up,  89 in total, 15 of them from overseas and among them several examples of all the key models from this little known manufacturer all lined up for me to inspect.

The pre-WW2 cars:

5 cars from this period, three of which were simply badged “Six” and two were the 16/90 models. One of these, a 1938 car was rewarded with “Best in Show”. The ex Scottish Motor Show car, it was rescued from a scrapyard in the early 1960s by Arthur Holmes-Pickering, who still owns it.

AC Saloon and Buckland

These cars date from the very late 1940s and early 1950s

AC Greyhound

Launched in 1959, and not a commercial success, the Greyhound was intended to appeal to the AC owner who needed more space and something less “raw” than the traditional Ace and Aceca. I have to guess that few people have ever seen so many of these cars assembled in one place as today’s attendees!

AC Ace

Staple offering in the 1950s was this traditional British sports car. At launch, the AC was fitted with AC’s own 2 litre engine. However, it was not long before a more powerful 2 litre Bristol engine was fitted. With supplies of this engine declining in the early 1960s, AC installed the 2.6 litre 6 cylinder engine from the Ford Zodiac into the car, and then gradually tuned it to give more power. A relatively small number of cars thus endowed were produced, and unsurprisingly they command the highest prices. There were examples of all variants well represented at the event. Highlight for many was Tony Bancroft’s recently restored ex-Ian Smith/Peter Bancroft Bristol

AC Aceca

The Aceca was nothing more than a coupe version of the Ace, very much in the same style as the MGB GT, but pre-dating it by nearly 10 years.


With supplies of the 2-litre Bristol engine running out in the early 1960s, the Cobra was born as result of an approach by Carrol Shelby, who proposed to put a large Ford engine in the car. There were plenty of examples of both the original 289 and 427 cars from the 1960s and the modern recreations, mostly the so-called Mark IV cars which were made by Autokraft, under licence in the 1980s and 1990s.

AC 428

These cars were designed by the Italian styling house Frua, and bore an overall resemblance to the Aston-Martin DBS, which was announced just slightly later than the AC. Both coupe and convertible models were made, but they were fearsomely expensive and only 91 of these cars were made. Just 28 of them were convertibles. The 1973 Oil Crisis proved to be the final straw for the car.

AC ME3000

First shown in 1973, it took nearly 7 years to get this car, based on Ford mechanicals, into production. Despite showing much promise, the contemporary road tests were luke-warm at best, and the car sold in small numbers for only about 4 years before AC ended production. There were 10 cars at the event. I’ve only ever seen a couple of these at once, and probably never seen 10 in total before today.

AC Brooklands Ace

Many attempts at reviving the company, with a new model, were made in the 1980s and 1990s, Finally, this car, badged Ace, and endowed with a 5.0 litre V8 Mustang engine did enter production in limited quantities in the late 1990s. Again, the press were less than enthusiastic about the execution, and only a handful were produced.

By late morning, the onset of drizzle had the owners reaching for the tonneau covers, and the bonnets were all closed after the judges had given the cars a once over. Such a shame, as this was a glorious display which would have been stunning had it been sunny. It does suggest that it is worth seeking out the less well publicised events and attending something like this if you want to see lots of rare machinery, though.


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