1937 AC 16/80 Short Chassis Competition Sports
- Brand: AC
Having abandoned plans to produce a 20hp touring car, John Weller turned his not inconsiderable design talents to something more mundane – a three-wheeled commercial delivery vehicle. Introduced in 1904, the Auto-Carrier was an immediate success and a passenger version – the Sociable – followed in 1907, at which time the company name was abbreviated to ‘AC’. The firm’s first four-cylinder car arrived in 1913 and fours would be catalogued until 1928, thereafter the company offered sixes only.
AC’s famous Weller-designed, overhead-camshaft six entered production in 1922, by which time Weller and his financial backer John Portwine had been ousted by new owner S F Edge. A prominent racing driver of the Edwardian era, Edge believed fervently in the publicity value of competition successes and pursued this policy enthusiastically during his stewardship of AC. In 1922 an AC became the first 1,500cc car to cover the mile at over 100mph and in 1926 the marque’s place in motoring history was assured when a 2.0-litre model became the first British car to win the Monte Carlo Rally.
Financial difficulties saw AC taken over by the Hurlock brothers in 1930 and from then on the firm concentrated on sporting cars aimed at the discerning enthusiast. Successful motor dealers, the Hurlocks had bought AC as a means of expanding their existing business and only restarted the manufacturing side in response to customer demand. Existing stocks of spares were used at first but when these began to run out the brothers had no option but to make a fresh start. This they did using a bought-in chassis from Standard, into which went Weller’s six and a conventional ENV gearbox, replacing AC’s traditional three-speed transaxle. The marque’s reputation for producing well engineered and equally well finished cars continued under the Hurlocks’ ownership, enabling AC to prosper despite the higher asking prices that these exemplary standards necessitated.
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