1957 AC Ace BristolSOLD

Former SCCA Racer

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Registration No: 527 XUT Engine No: 100D694 CC: 1971 Colour: Silver Trim Colour: Burgundy MOT: Sept 2010

Reference Number 52033

as of 9/25/2009

Overview
Car 1957 AC Ace Bristol
VIN BEX356 
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Known History

Introduced in October 1953, the AC Ace was essentially a reworked version of 'LOY 500' the handsome John Tojeiro designed sports racer with which motor trader Cliff Davis had notched up six wins and four seconds that season (in addition to placing ninth overall at the Goodwood Nine-Hours). Lured into collaboration with the Thames Ditton manufacturer by the promise of a £5 per car royalty fee (capped at £500), Tojeiro ensured that the new model's ladder-framed tubular chassis enjoyed the same handling prowess as its competition forebear by equipping it with all-round independent transverse-leaf suspension.

 

Styled after 'LOY 500' (itself modelled on the Carrozeria Touring clad Ferrari 166 MM Barchettas), the Ace was arguably even more handsome. Initially powered by AC's own 1991cc OHC engine, the availability from February 1956 onwards of another straight-six in the guise of Bristol's tuneable 1971cc unit gave the aluminium bodied sports car a welcome boost in both sales and performance. Upgraded with optional Girling front disc brakes in 1957, Ace Bristols achieved considerable success at Le Mans (1957: 10th o/a & 2nd i/c, 1958: 8th o/a & 2nd i/c, 1959: 7th o/a & 1st i/c) as well as dominating the Sports Car Club of America's production championship for classes E (1957-1959), D (1960) and C (1961).

 

According to John McLellan and Tony Bancroft's authoritative tome `Ace Bristol Racing: A Competition History', this particular example - chassis number BEX 356 - left the AC Works on 27th September 1957. Supplied new to America, the two-seater is accompanied by a letter from John T.M. Baldwin - President of John Baldwin's Classic Sports Cars Ltd (Covington, Louisiana) which is dated December 3rd 1987 and was notarized by Michael T. Stone of St Tammany Parish, Louisiana. In the missive Mr Baldwin states that: "Prior to 1970 it (BEX 356) was raced extensively in the Southwest in S.C.C.A. races". Also on file are a number of parts invoices issued to Mr Woody Woodward of Kansas City, Kansas and Mr Bruce D. Carrico of neighbouring Overland Park, Kansas.

 

Mr Harvey D. Woodward (a.k.a. `Woody' Woodward) is a former Regional Executive of the SCCA's Kansas City division and is known to have entered an AC Ace Bristol for the Elkhart Lake International June Sprints in both 1958 and 1959 (placing tenth overall and winning Class E on the latter occasion). A regular contestant at the Lake Garnet Grand Prix Sports Car Road Races too, the inaugural July 1959 meeting there saw him drive an AC Ace Bristol to class E honours. While, a year on Checkpoint magazine's report from the same venue stated that: "In race number 8 the Jaguars of Classen and Gunther took over again for a battle royal, leaving the Corvettes far in the dust. Harvey Woodward driving his AC Bristol had clutch trouble on Sunday, and wasn't the threat he usually is on Monday".

 

Bruce D. Carrico (a.k.a. Doug Carrico) is known to have entered a Triumph TR3 for the 1960 Lake Garnett Grand Prix Sports Car Road Races (and to have raced a Saab at the same event two years later). Thus, it is conceivable that he met Woodard there or made his acquaintance via another SCCA Kansas City region meeting. Woodward had something of a penchant for British machinery and was piloting an Elva MK6 by 1962 (which he unceremoniously dumped in Lake Garnett the following year when its throttle stuck open mid-race). The last invoice issued to Mr Carrico on file is dated September 25th 1967 and concerns honing bores / fitting pistons. However, within three years the AC had been laid-up and was to remain dormant until 1987 when John T.M. Baldwin sold it to Englishman, David Boland.

 

Once back in the UK chassis BEX 356 was treated to an extensive `ground up' restoration and conversion to right-hand drive. Commissioned to repair the chassis, refurbish the bodywork and re-trim the interior, renowned Ace specialist David Sanderson discovered that the two-seater had suffered side impact damage at some stage as well as acquiring the bonnet shroud from a second car. Re-tubed as necessary and re-jigged, the newly straightened chassis was reunited with its newly smoothed bodywork and painted silver. Sporting a new right-hand drive dashboard the interior was re-trimmed in red leather. While a radiographic analysis carried out by Stresstest Ltd on October 4th 1990 revealed that "the Bristol engine block was found to be clear of any cracks or other major defects".

 

Pleasingly, the engine number originally associated with chassis BEX 356 is the same one which appears on the cylinder head currently fitted to it, namely 100D694. UK road registered as `MVS 436' during 1992, the Ace Bristol was one of the cars chosen to feature in Simon Taylor and Peter Burn's book `AC Heritage 90 Years from the Three-Wheeler to the Cobra'. Sparingly used since entering the current ownership in 1998, BEX 356 has formed part of a large private collection but remains highly presentable. Indeed, the vendor describes it as being in "A1" condition with regard to its engine, four-speed manual gearbox, electrical equipment, interior trim, bodywork and paintwork.

 

In the absence of any old registration documents / title certificates our ideas as to chassis BEX 356's history prior to 1970 remain supposition. However, given the presence of Mr Baldwin's notarized statement and numerous invoices / bills made out to Messrs Woodward and Carrico, we feel there is a good chance that we have made two plus two equal four rather than five! Potential purchasers are of course encouraged to draw their own conclusions from the AC's history file. Riding on wire wheels and sporting drum brakes all round, this gorgeous Ace Bristol is offered for sale with an Arnolt Corporation invoice, AC Cars Limited correspondence / bills, Bristol engine workshop manual, AC `The Car of Distinction' sales brochure, photocopied owner's manual, various restoration photographs, assorted 1960s AC Owners' Club Bulletins, sundry other paperwork and current MOT certificate valid until September 2010.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Since the printed catalogue went to press we have been contacted by the ACOC's Ace Bristol Registrar Tony Bancroft to say that the Club do not have a record of who first owned BEX 356. However, they do have a record of Harvey Woodward being the first owner of BEX 268. Thanks to SCCA historian Rick Taylor we have managed to speak to Harvey Woodward who could only recall owning one Ace Bristol (though, he could not remember the chassis number off the top of his head). We do not have an explantation as to why invoices made out to Mr Woodward should be present in the history file for a car he seemingly did not own. Mr Woodward has told us that he will try to look into the matter but in essence it looks as if we have made two plus two equal five. Interestingly, Mr Bancroft also informed us "The Ace Bristol Register suggests that BEX 356 has early race history but we have absolutely no knowledge of early owners / drivers or confirmation of competition history".

 

PLEASE NOTE: The registration on this vehicle is 527 XUT.