1961 AC Greyhound

One of only 83 made; three owners from new, the current since 1985; recently restored by AC Heritage at a cost of over £90,000; rebuilt Bristol 110 engine with Cosworth race pistons and uprated camshaft; wonderful condition throughout

One of the most intriguing British motor manufacturers, AC can trace its roots right back to the dawn of the motoring age and has produced an inspiringly wide range of vehicles from humble invalid carriages and delivery trucks to catwalk beauties like the AC 428 Frua.

However, the real glory days of the firm arrived in the mid-1950s when the fabulous John Tojeiro-designed Ace entered production. With race-derived suspension, a lightweight tubular chassis and aluminium coachwork, it became one of the finest sportscars of its era, winning its class in the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1959 and ultimately evolving into the world-beating Cobra.

In 1955 AC introduced a closed coupe version of the Ace, the Aceca, and in 1959 they followed it up with a 2+2 coupe, the Greyhound. Very similar to the smaller Ace and Aceca models, the alloy-bodied Greyhound was 10” longer in the wheelbase and bore a striking resemblance to Aston Martin’s recently introduced DB4.

It shared many components with the sporting Ace, including the same engine options. Most cars used the 2.0 and 2.2 Bristol engines, although the original 2.0 AC in-house design was also available as was a 2.6 Ford Zephyr unit. All had brisk acceleration and all were capable of cracking 100mph with ease but purists rightly prefer the smooth and lively Bristol powerplants as the noise, balance and feel is perfect for the Greyhound’s sporting GT nature.

A true four-seater with decent luggage space, the Greyhound benefited from a slick four-speed manual gearbox with optional overdrive, disc/drum brakes with separate master cylinders front and rear, rack-and-pinion steering and sophisticated all-round independent coil-sprung suspension which was derived from the Ace Bristol (LM5000) that came 8th at Le Mans in 1958. Essentially hand-built, production lasted until 1963, by which time only 83 cars had left the Thames Ditton factory.

First registered in Surrey in November 1961, this gorgeous Greyhound has been in the current ownership for 37 years. The V5C records one former keeper but in fact it has had two, the first lady owner keeping it until 1977 when it was acquired by a Maurice Knight of Launceston who kept it until 1985. It then appeared for sale at Thornfalcon Classics of Taunton from whom our vendor acquired it, driving it from Somerset back to London and enjoying every mile.

When it left the factory, 150 WPE was originally fitted with a 2.2-litre Bristol 110 engine (no. 5194) but this got replaced fairly early in its life by an Austin Westminster six-cylinder engine. However, Mr Knight also owned an AC Ace so he thoughtfully removed the Bristol 100D engine from that car and dropped it into the Greyhound, putting a Rover 3.5 V8 into his Ace instead – they did things like that in those days!

Our vendor used the Greyhound regularly, including doing various gentle RAC road rallies during the 1980s and ‘90s, but by 2014 it was starting to feel a little tired so he sent it to AC Heritage of Brooklands for a tidy up. As is the way with these things, one thing soon led to another and before he knew it, our vendor was committed to a full-on restoration which ultimately took four years to complete and cost well over £90,000.

The body was stripped to bare metal and repaired as necessary, the curvaceous front end being completely remade in aluminium as it was found to be full of filler. Although AC Heritage owned the original AC Thames Ditton bucks and tooling, they did not have the buck for the front of the Greyhound but our vendor managed to track it down to a barn in Sussex and succeeded in buying it. This made the job considerably easier but it still took countless hours to get the complex curves perfect. A new fuel tank was also made and fitted and the whole car was expertly repainted in Aston Martin Silver Birch.

The front seats were retrimmed in black leather, the door cards were refurbished and a new set of carpets and a new headlining were fitted. The perspex rear screen was renewed and the front windscreen was also replaced as the original unfortunately cracked while it was being removed. All the usual mechanical aspects were also attended to: brakes/steering/suspension/electrics etc.

AC Heritage managed to source a 2.2-litre Bristol 110 engine (no. 5081) so, in the interests of originality, the decision was taken to put this into the Greyhound in place of the 100D unit so nobly sacrificed by Mr Wright’s Ace. Before being fitted to the car, it was fully rebuilt with new Cosworth racing pistons, new liners, new main and big end bearings, balanced crank and rods etc. An uprated sports camshaft was also fitted, supplied by Newman Cams of Farnborough, and the head was rebuilt with hardened valve seats to make it suitable for unleaded fuel.

Since the restoration was completed in December 2017, 150 WPE has only covered around 500 fine weather miles and, as you can see in the photos, it remains in wonderful condition today. In September 2019 it was invited to the Hampton Court Concours d'Elegance as part of a display of fine AC cars where it was much admired.

Prices of the Ace and Aceca have soared in recent years and we can’t help feeling that the Greyhound is somewhat undervalued by comparison. With all the looks of an Aston Martin DB4, 75% of the performance, 15 times more rare, yet a quarter of the cost, this expertly restored Greyhound looks mighty tempting at the guide price suggested.

For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email james.dennison@brightwells.com

Reg No: 150WPE
Chassis Number: BEF2558
Engine Number: 1105081
Engine Size: 2216cc
Docs: V5C; old style V5C; 8 old MOTs; invoices; photos

Sale Section & Buyers Premium (ex VAT): Car 12%, Minimum £150

Estimate: £80,000-90,000

Lot 331

Lot ended

Thursday 23/06/2022

Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)

Under Offer @ £70,100
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