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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

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1959 AC ACE BRISTOL Sports  ] ::

FROM HELP PAGE 132: Three bit grainy photos sent to us by Simon Barnard (UK) taken c1959. Driver is his father Joseph Barnard and passenger is uncle John Bray. Puzzling logo on the side of the car. -- Registration is Surrey; the car is cca 1959 AC Ace Bristol Sports. AC latterly famous for the AC Cobra, introduced the Ace in 1953. In 1956 introduced option of Bristol Cars' two-litre 120 bhp straight-six, 116 mph with 060 mph in 9 secs. Further mods made in 1961 to the Bristol engine by Ken Rudd, a racer of ACs.

Enquiry details August 2018: 
    Please could you identify this car. It was taken c. 1959, the driver is my father Joseph Barnard and the passenger my uncle John Bray. There is a logo on the side of the car but I have not been able to identify it. Thank-you.  Simon Barnard 

Hi, Thanks your Email and the interesting attachments. We would be very interested to learn your father's connection with this car. The car is obviously an AC and from the badge it seems to be a Bristol. It has a radiator mask so is likely a later Ace. The registration is Surrey County Council of October 1959. We do not have any in-depth knowledge of AC cars or of their competition history. However, a bit of web research suggests this car 27 MPD may have connections with a Bill McCowen who is linked with competing with this car and the car having been upgraded via Don Moore to a Rudd specification. As this was happening in the UK and abroad in 1960/1, it would have been happening at the very time the photos were taken. Do you have any additional info on the photos ?

Dear Bozi,  Thank-you so much for your very prompt and informative reply. I believe my father owned the car, (unfortunately he died eight years ago so I have no further details and my mother, who is still alive, has no recollection of it). However I can say the photo was taken near Northallerton, N.Yorks, where my mother still lives, and can be dated to 1959/60 because he was renovating the house at that time, as can be seen by the building works. He didn't have the car for very long because by the time my brother and I came along in April 1960 he had exchanged it for a big 1958 Austin A95 Countryman - my mother tells me he wanted to ditch his playboy image! He talked of many of his cars, a Singer, an XK 120, an Aston DB 2/4 but never this one as far as I am aware. I'm a little confused, I thought AC, Ace and Bristol were all separate makes of car, could you explain? Do you know what the logo on the side of the car represents? Apologies but I don't have any more information. Thank-you so much for your help again. Regards Simon

We can recapitulate as follows.  The registration is Surrey County Council which was issued in early October of  1959. It has a radiator mask which ties in with the dating of it being a later 1959 Ace. The badge on the bonnet has two parts, the circular AC badge and a rectangular small Bristol badge below it, confirming it is an AC Bristol. The car is of age/model to indicate it was new at the time of registration. You believe your father owned it from new and sold it by April 1960, so he owned it for only for six months. 

The car is an "AC" manufactured in West Norwood by company which was formally known as Autocars & Accessories, and who started by making the 'Auto Carrier' three wheel deliver vehicles, one wheel at the back and box at the front. This was followed in 1907 by the 'AC Sociable', a three wheeler again similar configuration with driver/passenger in front with tiller steering. In 1913 they produced in Thames Ditton a four wheel two seater sports car, which got interrupted by WW1. Following the war they started making a sports cars which proved successful in competitions but had a checkered history financially undergoing a number of owners and name changes. After WW2 as 'AC Cars' they received a large government order for 'Invacar' the ubiquitous blue invalid carriages which carried on to 1976. Car production restarted 1947 with the 2 litre, and in 1953 they introduced the 'AC Ace Sporstcar' with lightweight body and 2 litre engine. In 1956 the AC Ace became available fitted with the pre-war BMW-designed, but Bristol-produced, Bristol Cars two-litre 120 bhp straight-six engine, 116 mph with 060 mph in 9 secs. A further modification was made in 1961 to the Bristol engine by Ken Rudd but Bristol then ceased production of this engine. Carroll Shelby suggested to AC Cars to use the Ford V 8 instead, and production of the 'AC Cobra' began in 1962, when production of the Ace ended. At the time, the AC Cobra 427 was the fastest "production" car in the world.

We understand that you are not aware of who he sold 27 MPD to. We do not have any in-depth knowledge of AC cars or ability to trace ownership. This may be available from the AC Owner Club. We have noted however from our searches on the internet that by 1960 a racing driver William (Bill) McCowen was linked with competing in this car still carrying the numberplate 26 MPD. Bill McCowen is mentioned as being the driver of an AC Ace Bristol 26 MPD 25 MPDat a number of important meetings in UK and abroad for the next couple of years and is linked with Ken Rudd who was also racing his own very hot AC Ace Bristol.

As far as we have been able to ascertain, the car does not seem to have survived under that registration number as it does not show up on the DVLA website. One possibility is that the car may have moved to the USA.

We have noted the badge on the side of 25 MPD which appears to be a lion rampant with writing above and below. That shape of lion rampant is quite common to many badges (Peugeot logo for instance) and without a higher definition photo of the badge we can not identify it any further. As the badge was on the car when owned by your father, it is probably something to do with him; school/club/association. A thought which may have no connection, but Bill McCowen is mentioned in a number of places as being a member of the Scuderia Light Blue racing team.

Original photos as received.

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