ACs celebrate centenary in style

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ACs turned out in force to celebrate the unveiling of a special 100th anniversary plaque on the wall of the Ferry Works in Thames Ditton.

Inside the historic 19th century Thameside factory, vintage ACs were displayed amid the high-tech engineering machinery of NCMT, the building's current owner, which enthusiastically embraced the birthday event.

The National Motorcycle Museum sent its 1910 Auto Carrier delivery vehicle, the oldest survivor while other ‘Amazing Cars’ included a Joel duBois d’Aische's rakish  12-40 Sports, and the remarkable ex-John Joyce sprint car. Special guests included relations of various AC company owners and heroes including SF Edge’s grandson, Tom Gillett's grandson, as well as the son and daughter of the Hon. Victor Bruce and Derek Hurlock's daughter.

Across the West London hamlet, the AC Owners' Club staged its concours on Giggs Hill Green in inimitable English style with classic cars sharing the space with a local cricket match.

For the first time the local council allowed cars on to the grass for the special event at a location regularly used by AC in the past for publicity photography. Vintage tourers lined up with spectacular Cobras while centre-stage was a group of 2.6 Ace and Acecas celebrating this beautiful sports car’s 50th anniversary.

Highlights included the Freddie March-styled 16/80 sports of David Hescroff, which motored up from Dorset through thunderstorms for the event. In 1946, this handsome 1934 sports car was driven by the redoubtable Betty Haig to a class victory on the Alpine Trial.

Furthest travelled was Frenchman Jean-Marc Dubost who arrived in his Ace Bristol complete with dog Unik in the passenger seat. “He loves riding in it and he’s a good co-pilot,” said Dubost. “I’d always wanted an Ace and, after a long search, found mine in Africa in a dismantled state.”

Among several enthusiastic lady owners at the event was Ruth Atkinson with her 193416/70 drophead. “My husband bought me an Aceca as a wedding present and two years ago he gave me this for our anniversary. Learning to double-declutch was a challenge, but I love driving it. I’m really looking forward to taking it to the Le Mans Classic next year.”  

Attracting the most interest was a trio of 428s including Andy Shepherd’s fearsome, highly modified Fastback racer looking rather incongruous alongside Adrian Dawn's superb Convertible.

The event drew out several ex-employees including Dennis Davey, a dapper pensioner who was employed at the High St works as an apprentice draughtsman between 1945-1950. “I worked with Mr Marczewski, a Polish engineer, on the 2-litre saloon, but whenever I could I’d go down to look at the pre-war cars which were in for restoration. I remember being shocked when an electrician was sacked one Monday morning for mimicking the boss, but soon learned that it happened every week. The Hurlock family were great to work for.”

Few have stronger AC family links than Graham Wright who brought along his AC 3000ME prototype, one of 10 3000MEs at the event. “My father Jock worked in the showroom and married Derek Hurlock’s sister. I used to come here with dad as a boy and vividly remember sitting in the ’64 Le Mans Coupé when it was being built,” recalled Wright who later worked in the drawing office from 1970-'78. “Alan Turner was my boss. He was key to the development of everything from Ace to the 3000ME. He was such a talented engineer and stylist who deserves more credit. I loved working here.”

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