Lot 238 - 1972 AC Aceca Cobra Coupé
|Chassis Number||CFX 18|
|Odometer reading||484 miles|
|Estimate||£175,000 - £200,000|
- A completely bespoke motorcar
- Immaculately presented and fully road ready
There can be little doubt that the AC Cobra occupies top-spot when it comes to sports cars and their tyre-shredding performance. Prior to that came the Ace, originally AC-engined but latterly Bristol and Ford and produced alongside Carol Shelby’s Cobra. Shelby saw the potential in 1962 and arranged for 100 cars to be shipped over, the first 75 had 260ci powerplants shoehorned into the Ace. Latterly, he made use of the 289ci motor making the new Cobra the fastest ‘production’ car in the world.
There is an addition to this line-up however, and this is the Aceca. Again, Bristol engined but with beautifully sculpted coupé bodywork. Both cars developed by John Tojeiro loosely based around his earlier, highly successful, Tojeiro/Bristol sports racing car. Both the Ace and Aceca proved popular for both road and competition use in the UK and the US, but the Thames Ditton plant never progressed with this car however and production ceased before Carroll Shelby could get his hands on it. That is to say, it never got the engine it deserved. Until now.
Beneath the bonnet of this AC lurks a Steve Warrior 409bhp, V8 motor and running gear. A Cobra in all but name. The power comes from a genuine Ford Boss 4948cc (302ci). Look carefully and you'll see other subtle styling cues; Cobra Mk. II wheel arches, bonnet louvres and grills on the sides of the front wings along with Cobra-style chrome front overriders.
The body has been hand-rolled and meticulously hand-built with aluminium coachwork finished with deep, lustrous off-white paintwork with twin Cobra-style racing stripes. And rightly so for this is no retiring angel. Twist the key and the engine shatters the morning stillness with that familiar Ford V8 rumble pulsing from the twin exhaust pipes, one on each side of the tail.
The dashboard, in blue leather, to match the hide bucket seats, is clearly that of an AC Ace or Aceca, yet the central Hurst Shifter is pure Cobra. This author is reliably informed that it drives and performs exactly like a Mk. III Cobra with precise handling and a smooth and even power delivery right across the band. The main difference, of course, is that this has been meticulously put together internally but the lightest of touches with your right foot will quickly remind you this is no transcontinental cruiser.
Trevor Legate, author of Cobra: ‘The First 40 Years’ and knower of things, first knew that AC were casting about for a V8 for their Aceca back in the 60s. The AC engine was not really cutting it and the Bristol unit was going out of production. Derek Hurlock of AC Cars needed something with a bit more ‘bite’ but none of the major manufacturers seemed willing to help. The man who finally brought the idea of a V8-powered Aceca to fruition was Werner Oswald, an AC enthusiast living in Switzerland in the early eighties. He owned several ACs with various engines but always harboured a desire to produce the model that the AC factory never got round to.
He had a rough AC Aceca at the time but with no engine or front axle. His brother had a damaged AC 428 but would not require any strengthening or modifications to accommodate a big Ford V8. All additional underpinnings were from a Mk. III Cobra.
An expert panel beater then made the body and chassis fit together, including the Cobra all-independent coil-spring and double-wishbone suspension so all spring rates were perfect from the beginning. Finally, a Boss 302 V8 was installed as it can be highly tuned but isn’t too heavy. It had big-valve cylinder heads, a steel crankshaft and conrods and +0.03in pistons so was guaranteed to be as quick as any Cobra could be. Intake was through a four-barrel Holley carburettor topped by a 14” K&N air filter with a Mallory distributor assisted by an MSD electronic ignition system. It also included Aeroquip hoses throughout as well as competition cooling pipework and a built-in fire extinguisher system.
Wisely, the gearbox chosen was a Richmond 4+1 five-speed unit so the 400bhp on tap could supply both the searing acceleration and flexible, unstressed cruising performance. Werner Oswald finished it in 1982 using it for about two years subsequently in Switzerland then and another two in the UK.
More recently, it has been stripped back to aluminium once again and repainted in the current colour scheme alongside a change of interior trim. High quality carpets complement the matching blue leather seating and door cards. The overall finish is excellent.
This Aceca Cobra ticks so many boxes, has the history to match and has been put together so well and regardless of cost, it really does represent the car that AC should have built.
Photography with grateful thanks to Patrik Lindgren
Interested parties should also note that the original, un re-furbished set of wire wheels and 1958 two-eared spinners will also be included in the sale of this lot.
Previous lotLot 237 - 1968 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL (6.3 Litre)
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.