Auctions and Brokerage
*Please note that this car is equipped with four wheel drum brakes, not front disc brakes as stated in the catalogue.
Peter Gourlay, Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom (acquired new in July 1956)D.C. Morris, Clifton, Bristol, United Kingdom (acquired from the above in November 1960)Private Collection, United Kingdom (acquired from the above in September 2011)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2015
Long renowned as one of the finest sports cars ever conceived and built, the AC Ace was designed by British artisan-racer John Tojeiro. Rooted in a succession of Tojeiro’s racing specials, the Ace made its debut at the 1953 London Motor Show and entered production with AC soon after. Britain’s first postwar sports car with fully independent suspension, the Ace garnered instant and enduring praise. It proved brilliant in competition, winning five successive Sports Car Club of America championships (1957-1961), Second in Class at Le Mans (1957-1958), and First in Class and seventh overall there in 1959. This fine performance must have left an indelible impression on Aston Martin’s overall 1959 Le Mans champion Carroll Shelby, who later created his Ace derivatives, the 289 and 427 Ford V-8 Shelby Cobra.
While early Aces were powered by AC’s proprietary six-cylinder engine, performance was greatly enhanced by 1956 with the newly available BMW-derived Bristol 2.0-litre six. Numbered BE 172, this early Ace Bristol retains its original engine, 100D 520. As recorded in AC factory archives, BE 172 was dispatched on July 26, 1956, to Peter Gourlay of Guildford, Surrey, who sold it to Derek Morris, a friend who worked for Rolls-Royce at its Filton works. Mr. Morris would retain the Ace for 51 years and used it daily early on in his stewardship; later, he drove it enthusiastically on trips and rallies throughout the UK and Europe, both in original form and with the addition of a racy, cut-down, wraparound windscreen and great-sounding side exhaust.
Mr. Morris stopped driving his beloved Ace in 2006, and that is when it was last taxed for the road. Following Mr. Morris’ death, BE 172 passed to a new owner from whom the consignor, a knowledgeable California-based collector, acquired it in September 2011.
While still in the UK and before shipment to the US, BE 172 was carefully and respectfully returned to road-readiness, with the engine and running gear checked over and refurbished as necessary. The cockpit was fitted with new leather seats, carpeting, and door pockets. Complete weather gear includes the convertible top, top frame bows, side curtains, and tonneau cover. Additional items in the sale of BE 172 include a jack, a history file, original instruction manual, and UK buff logbook.
Clearly benefiting from its roster of just four keepers from new, correctly presented in lovely understated colors, and retaining its original and desirable Bristol engine, BE 172 is an outstanding example of one of the best postwar sports cars ever built. Best of all, it is eligible for a multitude of the world’s finest classic driving events, rallies, and tours.