When Martin pulled over into a lay-by and said “Right, your turn”, I didn’t really know what to expect. I thought, well it’ll have vague steering and the gear changes will be impossible, but I’ll come out all the wiser.
The AC Ace is a bit of a dark horse for me. I’ve traditionally been into 70s stuff. Other than knowing it was given ‘the Carroll Shelby treatment’ I’ve not really known much about it. I certainly didn’t know much about its pedigree, or price tag.
Oh how wrong I was. Pulling out onto the road, obviously a little tentative, I stalled. “More revs” instructs Martin. The only thing I can really remember next is blasting through the four speed gearbox. The engine note from the 2 litre straight six is sublime, it's along the lines of Italian, but a little more gruff than that. Never before have I been in a car that feels quite so alive. On the country lanes, it darts about madly, like some sort of crazed dog. A liberal application of steering was required to keep it in a straight line.
I wasn’t really ready for quite how much… ‘get up and go’ this car had. It's an AC Ace Bristol so a 2 litre straight 6 with triple carbs, 120 bhp in a car that weighs under 900kg. This thing wasn’t happy unless it was doing 70mph or on its way to it. In truth I’ve no idea if we did 70mph, it felt like it, and in hindsight with 120bhp in 4th gear whilst pressing on, it's not unlikely.
At face value there are a few drawbacks. I think I only had a 20% success rate in going from 3rd to 2nd gear. Also, this certainly isn’t a car you’d be driving every day, or any long distances - It doesn’t have seat belts for goodness sake. Bit frightening actually, thinking about it - I was doing 70mph without a seatbelt on. It’s also worth about £350k. Now, is that a lot of money and did my eyes pop out of my head? Yes. Is it worth it? Well, I never thought I’d say this, but yes.
If you’ve got that sort of money then it’s probably a pretty good match for you. To earn the kind of dollar required to buy this car you’re probably not going to have a lot of free time. Perfect. See, it’s a bit like a dinner jacket, perfect for special occasions. This is a car to drive once every two weeks or something, for an hour or two at most. It's such an intense and distilled experience - the greatest drive of your life on the twisty back doubles of the British countryside.