Some classic car projects can take longer than others. But this particular example has been 43 years in the waiting.
This rare AC Ace was taken off the road by its owner in 1979 before being broken down into individual parts ahead of a piece-by-piece restoration.
However, the refurbishment failed to materialise, leaving the classic car in a pile of components waiting to be put back together.
Last week, the mortal remains of the now-collectable 1963 motor were offered at a UK auction to the highest bidder, with the winning enthusiast forking out more than £200,000 for the stripped-down vehicle.
Can you tell what it is yet? The dismantled remains of a rare 1963 AC Ace sports car were offered to the highest bidder at a UK auction last week – and someone paid over £200k for it
The Ace roadster was sold last week and the H&H Classics event at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire.
According to the AC Owners’ Club, chassis ‘RS5032’ came off the AC Cars assembly line in Thames Ditton, Surrey, on 29 May 1963 and is one of just 37 examples produced – and only one of 24 with the steering wheel on the right hand side, not that you can tell from its current condition.
It is the model, and revised body, that led directly to the Shelby Cobra – the sports car that went on to become an icon, especially in the US.
This example was built in the final year of the Ace’s production run and is one of the few heavily-tuned ‘Ruddspeed’ cars to feature an uprated version of Ford’s 2.6-litre inline-six-cylinder powerplant taken from the blue oval brand’s Zephyr and Zodiac.
It was originally finished ‘Pearl Black’ paint with a red leather upholstery and the registration ‘150 PH’ that it keeps today – which is likely worth a fair bit of money alone.
A glance at the images would suggest this car has endured a hard life. However, the clocks show a low – and credible – 58,423 miles only in the motor’s near 60-year history.
The classic two-seat roadster built by Surrey-based ACE Cars in 1963 was taken off the road in 1979 with the intention to fully restore it back to its original glory
Some 43 years later and the vehicle remains in its stripped-down condition – and is missing a key component
Auction house H&H Classics says the majority of its parts are accounted for, though the original chassis was inadvertently scrapped having been stored away from the components
This rarest of the Ace breed reputedly developed 170bhp, with claims it could complete a 0-to-60mph dash in six seconds and a standing quarter mile in 16.3 seconds. Flat out, it could hit a top speed of 135mph.
While most of the original components have been retained in the last 43 years, the chassis was inadvertently scrapped after being placed in storage in a friend’s rented garage that was later redeveloped and its contents cleared.
As seen in the array of photos, the 2.6-litre engine, gearbox, differential, bonnet, boot, doors, dashboard, keys, hardtop, seats and internal body panels are all present and accounted for.
As seen in the array of photos, the 2.6-litre engine, gearbox, differential, bonnet, boot, doors, dashboard, keys, hardtop, seats and internal body panels are all present and accounted for
A glance at the images would suggest this car has endured a hard life. However, the clocks show a low – and credible – 58,423 miles only in the motor’s near 60-year history
The car is one of just 37 ‘Ruddspeed’ examples produced – and only one of 24 with the steering wheel on the right hand side, not that you can tell from its current condition
These were the final edition AC Aces and used a tuned Ford 2.6-litre in-line six-cylinder engine. They were often used in competition, with this car originally driven in hillclimb races
Yet, H&H Classics said it ‘cannot guarantee that everything shown relates to an AC Ace 2.6’.
Add to the fact this is a vehicle sold without a chassis, not only is it a long-term project but one with no guarantees for its end value once a restoration is completed.
Which is why its incredible sale price of £202.500 shocked even H&H Classics when the hammer dropped on Wednesday.
With no reserve, bidding started at £60,000 and quickly escalated.
Damian Jones, head of sales, said: ‘We knew it was going to do well, but if someone had told me before the sale what it would sell for I would have been impressed.’
However, there could still be a profit to be made if the rebuild doesn’t go too far over budget.
The Ace is the model, and revised body, that led directly to the Shelby Cobra – the sports car that has gone on to become an icon, especially in the US. Pictured: how a complete AC Ace should look finished in black paint
There could still be a profit to be made if the rebuild doesn’t go too far over budget. This stunning sister car sold for $500k (around £380k) at a US auction in August
This is how the interior of the car should look once it is put back together and restored
One of its 1963 sister cars (also in right-hand drive), chassis ‘030’, sold for $500,000 (around £380,000) at a Monterey auction last August, which could have influenced such a high winning bid for the dismantled motor.
This particular car’s first owner was a W.J. Williams, who used the Ace 2.6 for hillclimb competitions – as did his immediate successor Dr Stuart Saunders.
The AC was acquired by the vendor’s late father during 1969, whose first job coincidentally had been in AC’s technical department.
Having driven the Ace for a decade, he then decided to take the two-seater off the road and stripped it down to parts pending the scheduled restoration that never came to fruition.
As for the missing chassis, H&H Classics says there is ‘no shortage’ of companies that could fabricate a replacement, including AC Heritage of Brooklands who have access to the original factory tooling.
A selection of images shows that most of the components – even the carpets – are present
While there is a plaque denoting the engine and chassis numbers, the chassis was not sold as part of the lot
The auction house selling the car, H&H Classics, said it ‘cannot guarantee that everything shown relates to an AC Ace 2.6’. Yet someone paid in excess of £200,000 for it
Not the only dilapidated classic car to sell big last week
The AC Ace wasn’t the only classic motor to sell for a substantial sum despite being in a less-than-desirable state of disrepair.
A ‘barnfind’ right-hand drive Jaguar E-Type Series 1 4.2 Fixed Head Coupe – one of just 1,584 produced – also went to the block at the same Cambridgeshire sale.
Like the AC, it has been in single ownership for almost half a century (since 1971) and has been off the road for a whopping 49 years where it has been kept in a barn and endured a forgotten existence.
This ‘barnfind’ Jaguar E-Type also sold at the same auction, with a collector handing over £40,500 for the dilapidated motor
Like the AC, it has been in single ownership for almost half a century and has been off the road for a whopping 49 years where it has been kept in a barn and endured a forgotten existence
This version of the E-Type is highly desirable. The original engine remains, which is a naturally aspirated 4.2-litre 12v inline six-cylinder petrol producing 265bhp
The original, factory-fitted – interior remains and looks in slightly better condition than the exterior
Still retaining traces of its original paint and what is thought to be its original factory-fitted interior, the 1965 Jaguar has spent its entire life in East Anglia.
Ahead of the sale, the odometer displayed just 79,651 miles and registration ‘DPW 785C’ was sold with its original logbook as well as a current V5C registration document.
Understood by the auctioneer to be substantially complete, the car also boasts its original ‘matching numbers’ engine.
These examples are particularly sought after because of their improved gearbox, torquier engine and better brakes. If restored to its former glory, H&H Classics estimates it could fetch as much as £150,000.
When it went under the hammer in its dilapidated condition, it sold for a winning bid of £40,500.
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