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RM Sotheby's


1956 AC Ace Bristol - Australian Landspeed Record Ace

RM Sotherby's


-The first Ace Bristol exported to Australia

-Sponsored by Ampol Petroleum and set a Women’s Land speed record in 1957

-Extensive Race history in the NSW road racing championships, 1961 Australian Tourist Trophy

-Full matching numbers and conservation restoration by AC Heritage Works

-Eligible for Goodwood Revival, Tour Auto, Mille Miglia and many more. FIA HTP expiry 2030

We are delighted to bring this historic motorcar to market from our personal AC heritage collection.

This early long boot AC Ace Bristol was built by the Thames Ditton works at the start of 1956, first registered on the 19th of April, and left the works on the 10th May direct for export as the first Bristol engined Ace to Australia.

The order was for Mrs Mary Seed, a wedding present from her husband Commander Peter Seed, who lead the Venom Jet Squadron on HMAS Melbourne. Purchased from the factory as a competition car. Mrs Seed was a glamorous London society girl and established racer at this point, having been taught to race by Mike Hawthorn. After some successful campaigning in her Austin Healey, a race win at BARC Goodwood and then an unfortunate crash left Mrs Seed without a race car. The search for a new motorcar began, initially desiring a Jaguar. However, under Hawthorn's guidance, she ordered the newly launched Ace Bristol.

Upon arrival to Australia, Mrs Seed competed in October 1956 in the New South Wales road racing championship at Mount Panorama, Bathurst placing 3rd overall in the 13 lap race, it also appeared in the Sedan and Sports Car Handicap race later that day, however finishing outside the top 5.

Furthermore, Mary competed at the Australian Hill Climb Championship at Bathurst on October 21st 1956, resulting in fourth overall and 1st in class with a time of 51. 46.

Marys's most notable achievement with the Ace was becoming Australia's fastest woman driver, in February 1957, the record speed runs were held as part of an event held at Carathool in the Riverina District in the state of New South Wales. The runs were sponsored by Ampol Petroleum alongside David Mckay in the Aston Martin DB3S. Seed achieved 112. 95 mph over a flying kilometre breaking the class E (1500cc - 2000cc Sports Cars) record. On February 22nd an advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald showing a headshot of Mary Seed, details of the record and highlighting all the cars used by Ampol Petroleum.

Mrs Seed furthered her racing career at Gnoo Blas, Orange entering the Sports Car Handicap race on the 16th of June 1958 placing second behind Leaton Motors racer Frank Matich.

The Seeds then returned to London and sold the Ace to Oliver Steel in early 1959, further preparation had been carried out as part of the Sydney-based Leaton Motors Race Team. A hood scoop was added, dunlop disc brakes, 9. 5 -1 CR pistons reputedly running 140 bhp and lastly the colour change to the team's colours light yellow with black stripe.

Leaton Motors Race Team competed with Oliver Steel in the Ace on 15th June 1959 in two scratch races in which no result was published, This is also the case with the Queensland Centenary Road Racing championships on the 30th August 1959.

Its most glorious run was surely in the hands of Doug Chivas at the NSW Road Racing Championship (13 Laps) at Mount Panorama, Bathurst on the 4th of October 1959. On a rain soaked track, Chivas stormed through a field consisting of a Cooper Jaguar, DB3s Aston Martin, Maserati and several other Astons.

In the words of an onlooker: “But what was this? Chivas Lay third in the yellow and black Ace. Closer and closer he came, hurtling through the corners as if this was high summer and the road were bone dry. No one could believe an Ace would go that fast and yet there it was”

Only Frank Matich could match Chivas’ pace, finally, the ace passed the DB3S and finished an unbelievable second to Phillips in the Cooper Jaguar.

A spectacular result for the Leaton Motors Team, 1st in class and 2nd overall.

It was then sold Ray Hopwood of Sydney who repainted the Ace red with black trim, it was road tested by Sports Car World and published in September 1960. Around this time the Ace changed hands to Ron Marshall of Yass, New South Wales. He commissioned a hardtop in north Sydney to comply with the new rules of the GT class. It next appeared at Bathurst in October 1960 in event four of the Australian GT championship, finishing 5th overall and 1st in the 1600-2000 cc class.

Marshall entered the Easter 1961 Bathurst Meeting, in event two Grand Touring Scratch Race placing 7th, and resulting in the same finish in the latter main event.

In September of that year, the Ace raced at Albury for the first time on the Hume Weir Circuit as part of the Victorian Short circuit championship achieving a 2nd overall.

The Ace's final entry into motorsport was at the hands of Marshall in the 1961 Australian Tourist Trophy, run by the Australian Drivers Club placing 15th overall.

Marshall then traded in BE167 on a Cooper Climax 1. 5 Litre with Alec Mildren, passing through various owners until 1978 when it was purchased and restored by Geoff Dowdle, the current Australian Officer for the AC owners club and Bristol Historian, during his ownership it was registered for the BOAC Easter Rally to Merimbula in 1972. He would go on to sell the car in 1976 and was passed through four more owners until it was imported back into the UK.

BE167 returned to England for the first time in 2015, imported by one of our customers for us to restore, his circumstances changed and we purchased the car from him. We then carried out a conservation-restoration through our AC Heritage Works.

After a use over the summer of 2016, we stripped the car to bare metal and carried out are award winning restorations stripping the car to bare metal, rectifying the panel and chassis work to our factory jigs. We carried out a full suspension rebuild and all the drivetrain. The original dunlop brakes are still fitted to the car and homologated for FIA use, as used in the period.

The matching numbers engine and overdrive gearbox are in road tune with a light refresh to cylinder heads and carburettors.

We decided to retain the patina’d interior, and most importantly we decided to return the car to its original white and keep many original features including the bonnet scoop by Leaton Motors.

We ensured that the car was rebuilt to FIA specification and had fitted many upgrades to the car as follows.

  •  Front and rear antiroll bar
  •  Removable roll hoop (included in the sale)
  •  Gripper LSD
  •  Foam filled aluminium Fuel Tank
  •  Battery cut off switch (internal and external
  •  Fire extinguisher Twin coils
  •  Red top fuel pump
  •  Uprated rear Hubs
  •  Dunlop racing Tyres
  •  Kenlowe electric Fan
  •  Discreet Four point harness fixture

 Also with the car are the original flat windscreen, tonneau cover, hood and sidescreens .

We have fond memories of ‘BE167’ since its completion in 2017, the most memorable being driving it south of Milan for the prestigious Vernasca Silver Hillclimb. Closer to home it participated in the parade for the 60th Anniversary of Mike Hawthorns World Championship win in Farnham in 2018.

The early history of this AC Ace is the most comprehensive that we have ever seen and is fully documented throughout from the original buff logbook, export documents, AC Cars correspondence, Ampol contract, and newspaper clippings. The list goes on.

This a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire an early competition ace Bristol that retains all the original body/ chassis/ engine and gearbox that is eligible for all the major events.

To find out more about this significant motorcar please contact our sales team for further details, viewing by prior appointment.


Keyword Search Terms:

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Item Location: Weybridge,Surrey
Seller: CharlieBrooklandsCars
Joined March 2017
  Charlie Gray
Seller's other ads
Company: Brooklands Cars Ltd
Country: United Kingdom
City: Weybridge
Phone: +4401932828545
Condition Used
Trade or Private: Trade
Price: £POA
Added: 15/03/2023
Views: 495

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