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AC Greyhound

The competitor

At the end of the 1950s, AC Cars was actually doing well, the Ace sold quite decently, the Aceca coupé based on it somewhat less so. One criticism was that the Aceca didn’t offer enough space inside. But then in 1958 a serious problem came on the market, the Aston Martin DB4. It was superior to the Aceca in almost every respect, the engine anyway, but it also offered much more space – and above all Italian design. Well, the Aston was also really expensive, costing twice as much as an Aceca in Switzerland in 1959, but it was no bargain either, because for the same money you could get a Jaguar XK150 with much more power.

AC Cars saw the opportunity in a bigger Aceca. They used the same tubular frame as the Ace/Aceca, but extended the wheelbase by 25 centimetres so that the new model called Greyhound could be offered as a four-seater. A semi-trailing arm axle was also fitted at the rear to better support the extra weight and also improve handling; shortly before production, the round tubes were still changed to square shapes. As for the engines, the choice was always the same: the long outdated 2-litre six-cylinder with about 75 hp from AC itself, the equally outdated 2-litre six-cylinder from Bristol, which nevertheless produced 105 hp (and as a 2.2-litre (T110) even 125 hp), and finally the 2.6-litre six-cylinder from the Ford Zephyr with its reasonably impressive 170 hp. This looked good on paper, but the engine was rather phlegmatic and also heavy. Which definitely did not improve the weight distribution in the Greyhound. The Bristol machine was the bestseller, clearly.

But the problem was quite different: the AC Greyhound was designed by AC chief engineer Alan Turner. The engineer’s abilities are not to be doubted, but as a designer he was perhaps not quite up to scratch. The Greyhound looked a bit like the clumsy version of the DB4 (not everyone is an Italian designer), this still a bit mixed with a Bristol 405. The first design by Turner must have been rather in the direction of bad, the production version then had a slimmer C-pillar and a large panoramic window at the rear as well as more than just hinted at tail fins – AC Cars wanted to sell the car in the USA after all. What was great, however, was that the (dull) body was hand-beaded in aluminium, and the kerb weight of the vehicle, which was nevertheless 4.57 metres long, was only just over 1000 kilos.

Nevertheless, it was not a success. 82 units (plus one prototype, the bad first attempt by Turner) were probably built between 1959 and 1963. AC Cars tried to get other engines for the Greyhound (among others the small V8 from Buick – which later made it into the Range Rover), but the enthusiasm was rather low, because in the meantime AC could supply Carroll Shelby with the basis for the Cobra. Then AC Cars was doing really well for a few years.

Of course we are starting a collection here. Even though there are probably not many surviving examples left. Above we show BEF2525, which started its career as a 2.2-litre Bristol (110A/5185), but today drives a 2-litre Bristol with non-original Weber carburettors (100A/3017); it will be auctioned by Bonhams in Paris in early February 2023, estimate 50’000 to 80’000 Euros.

Chassis-Number: BEF 2506
Engine-Number: 100D21088

Auction: Silverstone Auctions, 2022, sold for 72’000 Pound, offerend with the following text: «This remarkable, matching-numbers, 2.0-litre straight-six, Bristol-engined Greyhound has a lovely back story having been discovered and uncovered in our vendor’s late father-in-law’s garage under 45 year’s worth of clutter and dust. Purchased new in 1960, the car was used as a daily driver including visits to UK circuits where its owner used to race Aston Martins at club level. With the arrival of his new car in 1978, the AC was moved to the garage where it was to remain under an increasing quantity of boxes etc. until dug out by our vendor prior to commencing a sympathetic restoration. He planned to carry out most of the restoration himself using as many original parts as possible and given that the car was less than 18 years old and had covered just over 43,000 miles when it was put into storage, much of it was in sound condition. Invoices within the history file include one for c.£21,000 with historic racing engine specialist Ian Nuttall (IN Racing) for a full engine rebuild including modifying the engine to run on unleaded fuel. 150 SPF was originally finished in AC ‘Rosso Chiarro’, however, small volume manufacturers used paint from wherever source they could find at the time and the exact code was not available so the car has been finished as close as possible to the original shade and now benefits from several coats of Red which retains a deep shine and looks fabulous. There are photos with the car covering various aspects of the restoration. The original bumpers have been re-chromed and are ready to be fitted but are currently off as to our vendor prefers the smoother bumperless styling. Pleasingly, much of the interior appears to have been refitted and the seating, headlining, dashboard, steering wheel and gear lever display a light patination from use by 150 SPF’s long-term owner, however, the red carpets are new. It’s the perfect combination for a sporting classic, a gleaming exterior and smart engine bay with a few little areas that show that the AC has lived a life. Happily, the car has a full history including old tax discs, old invoices (which help support the indicated mileage of 43,625), its original tool kit in the spare wheel well, original owners handbooks and manuals from when it was bought new until it was parked up in 1978. The restoration was completed in early 2022 and we understand from our vendor that “the engine is running well and the car is a delight to drive”. This has got to be one of, if not the finest example of a Greyhound to come to market recently and with prices of the Ace and Aceca having soared in recent years, we can’t help feeling that the Greyhound is somewhat undervalued by comparison. With the striking looks of a DB4, 75% of the performance, 10 times rarer, yet only 20% of the cost, it looks remarkable value at today’s guide price.»

We have a nice overview of the AC Cars history, there are also plenty of links to further information.

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