By 1900, John Portwine, a butcher, had made a fortune and was able to venture into the exciting world of automobile manufacturing. Although there was a lot of money, he lacked the technical knowledge to create machines, and he took engineer John Weller as his partner. The first jointly produced model was too expensive, the cars sold poorly. After some time, Autocars & Accessories began to produce affordable three-wheeled vehicles. They were so successful that by 1907 the company, which changed its name to Autocarriers, switched from simple versions to the development and production of small cars. The development of the case was also helped by the fact that in the 25th motorized rifle regiment of the British army these vehicles were preferred. This was followed by the release of larger cars with six-cylinder engines, one of which, with an overhead camshaft, remained in production without significant changes until 1963. Already in the 1930s, the company specialized in sports cars, and this trend continued after the Second World War.
In 1950, A.C. was selling five cars a week. In 1953, the ACC Ace car was introduced, a two-seat roadster on a chassis with a tubular frame, independent suspension on all wheels and the same six-cylinder engine, which already developed 85 hp. The aluminum body was an exact copy of the body of the Ferrari 166MM Barchetta, created by the Milanese studio “Touring”, but no one objected to this. One of the early versions of the Ace won the Two Lip Rally in its class.
A year later, the Ace model was equipped with a more powerful Bristol engine, which marked the beginning of the production of the ACC Bristol car. At the American races, the car with a 120-horsepower engine was unrivaled, and at Le Mans 1957 in its class it lost only to Ferrari. The following year, A.C.’s car won the famous Le Mans race. A.C. was already fairly well-known, but the real breakthrough came when Carroll Shelby’s firm offered to equip the Ace with a Ford V8 engine. Henry Ford saw the car in Dearborn and was so taken with it that Shelby gave him an order for 100 copies. Not having time to receive the first AC Cobra cars, Ford ordered the same number. When the Americans developed a new seven-liter 485 hp engine in 1963, it was installed on the Cobra model. In the US, this car was called the Shelby American Cobra. In Britain, the car was still equipped with a “small” 289 cubic inch engine and was sold as the AC-289.
The A-C company also produced other sports cars, including those with the body of the Frua design studio, but all of them were far from the success of the Cobra car. The Cobra has been copied by over 150 companies, so if you happen to see this car, you can bet it’s a copy. In 1997, Carroll Shelby also returned to the release of Cobra, which he rightly called “the only real one.” The build kit sells for $38,900, while a finished car with an official chassis number costs $500,000. This is certainly a lot of money for a car, but Shelby donates most of this amount to charity.