This is one of the rarest and most interesting of all Pre-War supercars, it is a 1935 AC Ace 16/90 Competition Replica. It is finished in Silver with Red Leather upholstery and is in a lovely older restored condition, freshly serviced and ready for its new home this summer.
For the sake of clarity our car started life as a, very desirable, 1935 AC Ace 16/66 Drophead Coupe Chassis L293, she was restored at great expense in the late nineties and fitted with the 1936 16/80 engine UBS 7/448 from the AC 2-Seater Competion car L487, this was a very famous AC, Registered DGO489, featured heavily in the AC Bible "AC Six Cylinder Sports Cars in Detail" by Mills. In addition to this she comes with an Arnott Supercharger and all ancillaried to convert to 16/90 Supercharged specification, the ultimate pre-war AC.
AC were formed in 1901 by the Weller Brothers as engineers, repairers and manufactures of motorcars and motorcycles. Known as Autocarries, the company name was changed to ‘AC (Acedes) Cars Limited’ in 1927. By 1929 AC was in deep financial straits, the factory was closed and went into receivership, though the service department continued to operate. A year later AC sprang back to life as William Hurlock and his brother Charles took over the company.
Originally the company ran for servicing only, but they then decided to resume production of the Magna. An improved, under-slung chassis of 9’ 7” wheelbase was adopted for AC’s 1934 range, which was first displayed at the London Motor Show in October 1933. Following this was the 16/80hp model, an entirely new two-seat competition roadster that had first appeared publicly at the 1935 London Motor Show. Weller’s 2.0-litre six was installed in a short-wheelbase (8’ 10”) chassis, under-slung at the rear and equipped with Moss remote-change synchromesh gearbox and Bendix self-energising mechanical brakes. AC were building their cars in very small numbers; each of them specifically tailored to the particular customers’ requirements.
AC carried a slogan as ‘The Saville Row of Motordom’. Their style included drop-head coupes, pillar-less saloons, fixed-head and short chassis sports. It would be nearly impossible to find two AC’s of the 1930s that were virtually identical. Along with high build quality, AC vehicles show much attention to detail. The pedals have pivoted heads and the AC logo. To prevent slush rebounding onto the outside of the bodywork wire mesh lined the insides of the wings. Additional silencers were mounted on the exhaust manifold by 1936. Almost every year the body styling was updated, and more practical improvements included more room in the passenger compartment space. Originally optional, triple SU carburettors were now made standard by the mid 1930’s.
Between 1935 and 1939 just forty two seat 16/80’s were produced with between 60 and 80 bhp. The first twenty eight had a slab tank rear and the final fourteen a hidden top and fastback tail. Four 16/90’s, with an Arnott Supercharger were produced with 90 bhp.
BXH 237 was first registered to Dr. K.E.L. Guill of 40 Hall Moor Street, London W1 on the 6th April 1935 as an ACE drophead coupe in Birch grey over blue with a blue leather interior and with engine number UMB239. Nothing is then known of its history although there is on file an invoice from E.J. Baker & Co. of East Grinstead to a D. Crane of Lingfield, Surrey for the purchase of a “used AC Sports Saloon”. What we do know is that she was first registered with DVLA in 1983 by G. Harding of Wokingham who sold her to John Mclellan of Abingdon in June 1987 for £1,100. He sold her to Geoff Bryson of Skipton in 1995 for £7,500 as a rolling chassis with a collection of parts. Mclellan is a former editor of the AC Owners Club Review and has written several books on AC’s and MG’s.
There then followed a lengthy, detailed and expensive restoration and rebuild project over 1995 and 1996; the bodywork by Rod Jolley of Lymington, Hampshire and the engine and rolling chassis by Solent Vintage Engineering, again of Lymington. The body received a new ash frame, panels and a red leather two plus two interior with a sloping tail. She comes with a high quality hood, a hood bag and a two piece tonneau cover.
The chassis and axles were totally stripped and rebuilt. The engine underwent major work and was adapted to run with an Arnott Supercharger (included with the sale but currently she runs on triple carbs). The bill from Solent comes to some £37,268 and was fraught with issues as it took a long time to get the Supercharger to work properly. Subsequently the brakes were overhauled in 2003.
In April 1998 she was registered with the Vintage Sports Car Club by Bryson as a 16/90 (replica) with the following description in the notes section “Car bought as a box of bits but all original and from one car. Bought from Secretary of A.C. Owners club as a 16/90. I suspect it wasn’t – much bitter argument! However, totally rebuilt but S/Charger is later and bigger Arnott (from Bill Morris) chain driven rather than belt….”
The previous owner bought her in July 2006 when his friend Geoff fell ill, today she is showing 35k Miles.
A 16/80 2 Seater Competition car, if you can find one, will set you back in the region of £250k, here we have the genuine engine from one of those cars in a standard chassis with the most beautiful Tourer body, she looks amazing, drives superbly, and is well known to the AC Community, a very rare opportunity to own a glorious and useable motorcar for a fraction of the price of a supercharged 16/90, if any of them still exist?