1901 - 1956

AC

AC Key Features

  • Type of car:  Automotive manufacturer
  • Body type:  Sedan, Hatchback, SUV, MPV, Coupe, Convertible
  • Country of origin:  United Kingdom
  • Built in:  United Kingdom
  • Sold in:  Worldwide

Information about AC

AC Cars, originally known as Auto Carriers Ltd., is a renowned British specialist automobile manufacturer with a rich history dating back to 1903. Founded by the Weller brothers in West Norwood, London, the company’s first foray into automotive manufacturing was marked by the presentation of a 20 HP touring car at the Crystal Palace motor show.

Initially, the company was established as Autocars and Accessories in 1904, producing the Auto-Carrier, a successful commercial three-wheeler. Subsequently, they introduced the A.C. Sociable, a passenger version of the Auto-Carrier. This vehicle became popular for both personal and business use.

In 1911, the company evolved into Auto Carriers Ltd. and relocated to Ferry Works, Thames Ditton, Surrey. This era also saw the introduction of the iconic AC roundel logo. Their first four-wheeled car emerged in 1913, featuring a sporty two-seater design with a rear axle gearbox. However, production was temporarily halted during World War I when the Ferry Works factory contributed to the war effort by manufacturing shells and fuses.

After the war, Auto Carriers resumed vehicle production and began developing a new overhead-cam six-cylinder engine, which remained in production until 1963. In 1921, Selwyn Edge joined the company, and in 1922, the company name changed to AC Cars Ltd.

AC Cars achieved notable racing successes during this period, including wins in the Brighton Speed Trials, Montlhéry endurance records, and the Monte Carlo Rally. Despite these victories, sales started to decline.

In 1927, Selwyn Edge bought the company and re-registered it as AC (Acedes) Ltd. However, the company faced financial challenges, compounded by the 1929 economic crash, leading to voluntary liquidation.

Production briefly ceased, but in 1930, a single car was made for William Hurlock, leading to a limited production restart, mainly using components from previous models. Standard chassis were supplied by Standard, and in 1932, a new range of cars was launched.

During World War II, AC played a significant role in producing invalid carriages for the UK government, contributing to its financial stability. Post-war, the company resumed car production in 1947 with the 2-Litre model, featuring the AC straight-six engine.

In 1953, the AC Ace was introduced, featuring a lightweight chassis and the Weller-designed 2-Litre engine. The Aceca, a coupe version, followed in 1954, known for its aerodynamic design.

The collaboration with Carroll Shelby in 1961 led to the birth of the AC Cobra, powered by a Ford V8 engine. This powerful roadster left a lasting impact on the automotive world and contributed to speed limit regulations.

In 1965, the Cobra evolved into the MKIII, with a bigger engine and enhanced chassis. A competition version, the Cobra 427 S/C, gained popularity and remains highly sought after by collectors.

During the 1970s, AC ventured into grand tourer models with the AC Frua, but production was limited.

In the 1980s, Brian Angliss acquired AC and continued producing the MKIV Cobra and a new AC Ace. Financial challenges followed, leading to receivership in 1996.

AC changed hands several times in the late 20th century and early 21st century, with various attempts to revive the brand. The production of authentic Shelby/AC Cobras resumed in 2004.

In recent years, AC Cars introduced new models like the AC MKVI and the electric AC Cobra Series 1. In 2022, the company began producing updated AC Cobra models compliant with modern safety and technology requirements.

Throughout its history, AC Cars has been associated with iconic sports cars and continues to maintain its place in the automotive industry.

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