The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 November 2005

Because we always need sports cars

AC Cars, founded in 1901, is the oldest British automaker still in business. The very definition of a low-volume manufacturer, they dribbled out small quantities of sports cars for decades, even mailing a few to the US starting in 1937.

Perhaps AC's biggest hit was the Ace, which first appeared in 1953. It was fast, but not wicked fast. Enter Carroll Shelby, who showed up at AC's door in 1961 with the idea of shoehorning a Ford V8 under the Ace's bonnet: a 260 at first, then a 289, finally the brutal 427. The Shelby cars were called Cobra, and their place in history was assured many years ago.

Now AC is coming to America, taking over a Bridgeport, Connecticut plant that once built the 1895 Armstrong, where three models — including the newest version of the Ace, introduced in 1997 — will be built. Production will be about 50 cars in the first year, eventually increasing to about 700.

The current Ace doesn't look like the Cobra, but it's the same idea: a relatively light bodyshell (though at 3300 lb, it's about half a ton more than Shelby's snake) with a snarly V8 at the front. Don't expect any change back from a $100,000 bill.

Posted at 10:00 AM to Driver's Seat