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AC Cars Ltd. is one of the oldest British – as well as world – automakers, established in 1902. AC cars have always implied prestige, good taste, and recognition.
AC Cars has forever left its mark in history of the British automobile manufacturing. The company was setup in 1902 by supreme efforts of a promising engineer John Weller and a successful businessman John Portwine. In a year, they made their first car. The Autocarrier (AC) was a delivery tricycle powered by a single-cylinder 5.6 hp engine. It was unbelievably successful.
A little modified, the Autocarrier served for military purposes. The British Army appreciated it for its manoeuvrability, high performance, and reliability. 1907 saw introduction of AC’s first passenger car, the Sociable, which was made on the basis of the Autocarrier.
Weller manufactured not only autos. He was also engaged in power units development. You can judge his professionalism and a gift for engineering by the fact that a two-litre engine developed by him in distant 1919 ceased to exist 45 years later.
In 1915, the abbreviation AC was officially used for the first time as the company Autocarriers Limited, led by Weller and Portwine, was organized.
Between the Wars
AC cars participated in motor races and often gained victory. In 1922, a AC car equipped with a 4-cylinder 1500 cc engine driven by a famous racing driver J. A. Joyce set a world record by covering a distance of 104.85 miles in an hour.
At that time, the company was headed by Selwyn Francis Edge. Although he exalted AC to the skies, he could be the one to destroy it. 1929 brought serious economic difficulties not just to AC but to every enterprise and person in the world. However, for AC, these difficulties turned out fatal – the company was liquidated.
Fortunately, brothers William and Charles Hurlock managed to buy out its property and bring it back to life. Then, AC provided car services and hand-made autos.
During the WWII, the company switched to military equipment production – aircraft parts, radar vans, firefighting equipment, flame throwers, guns, etc.
In the post-war years, AC resumed car production. Such new models as the AC Ace, the AC Aceca, the AC Bristol, etc. were made. But the most prominent auto of that time was the AC Cobra, which was designed by Carroll Shelby and launched in 1960. Although it didn’t acquire extraordinary design, its performance specifications made car enthusiasts hold their breath. The model’s peculiarity was a powerful 8-cylinder 4.2-litre engine combined with light sport mounting of the AC Ace. It’s one of the fastest cars of the era.
In 1966, the AC Frua (or the AC 428) was produced but failed to be properly developed due to financial troubles at the company. Eventually, the enterprise was bought out by Brian Angliss, Autokraft’s holder. This event was favourable for the marque. In 1986, production of the AC Cars Ace, which was followed by the AC Cars Superblower, was launched. By the way, these models have been made until now. Apart from them, in the 90s, the AC Cars Cobra Mk IV and the AC Cars Aceca were much sought after.
1999 saw the launch of the AC Cobra Mk IV CRS (Carbon Road Series), which body was made of carbon fibre instead of traditional aluminium. A year later, the AC 212 S/C was unveiled at the Birmingham International Motor Show. In 2001, the AC MkV model was produced (it was made in Malta till 2007). The new auto had carbon fibre body, installed on usual steel ladder chassis; a Ford fuel injected 340 hp V8; and a 5-speed manual transmission.
Now, AC Cars Ltd. cooperates with AC Automotive GmbH (Germany).
Since 2013, the following AC cars have been available:
- the GT (a 6.2-litre 437 hp V8 GM);
- the GT Big Block (a 7.2-litre 640 hp V8 atmospheric GM engine);
- the GTS (a 6.2-litre 647 hp V8 supercharger GM engine);
- the GTSR (a carbon body, a 6.2-litre 780 hp V8 supercharger GM engine).
- In 1964, prior to Le Mans on the unrestricted M1 motorway, an AC Cobra sped up to 183 mph during a test session. Not only viewers were deeply astonished at such a speed but engineers, too. In spite of the fact that the achievement was record-breaking, the British House of Commons recognized a potential threat in it. This is where two-lane motorways and a 70 mph speed limit came from.
- In a year, the AC Cobra gained victory in the World Sports Car Championship.
- This model is the most renowned supercar of the era.
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