1. 1959 AC Ace Roadster

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Lot Number
33
1959 AC Ace Roadster


ESTIMATE: $225,000 - $275,000
CHASSIS NO: BEX447
• Example of one of the postwar era’s most victorious sports cars produced
• Period racing history includes photo-documented early competition
• Provenance includes original ownership by Ron Leonard of AC Owners Club
• Handsome cosmetics and new Robbins soft top
• Original Ace-Bristol with small-block Ford V-8/five-speed for great touring

289 cid Ford V-8 engine, single four-barrel carburetor, five-speed manual transmission, independent front and rear suspension with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs and dual wishbones, front disc and rear drum hydraulic brakes; wheelbase: 90"


The John Tojeiro-designed Ace stands as the signature product of AC, Britain’s oldest independent automobile manufacturer. While best known to legions of enthusiasts as the foundation of Carroll Shelby’s thundering Ford-powered Cobra, the Ace remains one of the most victorious post-war sports cars ever conceived. Never built in large numbers, the Ace continues to be coveted for its purity, performance, and incomparable dynamics.

Numbered BEX447, this original 1959 AC Ace-Bristol roadster was purchased new by Ron Leonard from Motorsport Corp., the authorized AC dealer located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to a recent telephone conversation, Mr. Leonard related that he had already owned BEX358, but traded it for BEX447 in September 1959. While Mr. Leonard initially desired a red car, he instead purchased the white BEX447 as it was factory-equipped with front disc brakes and without the added weight of an optional heater, making it an ideal basis for an SCCA road racer. Mr. Leonard added a bolt-in roll bar and raced the Ace in a number of SCCA races at El Paso, Tucson, and Palm Springs, as well as in hill climbs, earning a class win at the Jerome, Arizona hillclimb. A wonderful period photograph, likely taken at Tucson in preparation for a road race there, is on file depicting Mr. Leonard in helmet and goggles at the wheel of BEX447, race-numbered 15.

Mr. Leonard retained BEX447 for several years, with the car forming a very enjoyable transport to California on an early-1962 honeymoon trip with his bride from their home in Tucson. While at their destination, Mr. Leonard visited the Venice, California shop of speed merchant Dean Moon, where Carroll Shelby’s first AC Ace-derived Cobra had just been built. He met both Moon and Shelby personally while there and inquired about employment with Shelby American, being advised that if he could wait about six weeks until the first shipment of Cobra bodies were scheduled to arrive from Thames Ditton in the UK, he could work there. However, with dwindling funds and a job waiting back in Tucson, the Leonards returned to Arizona. There, they went on to own 15 Aces and 10 Acecas over the following decades while establishing and building a successful and well-known AC parts-supply business.

Mr. Leonard eventually had the Ace repainted in red and then during late December 1963, he sold BEX447 to Ron Goodman, a friend who was visiting family in Tucson at the time. Mr. Goodman was a West Point-trained military officer who had just completed his medical studies to become a neurosurgeon at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. While the Ace was not equipped with a heater, Mr. Goodman braved the cold and drove his new purchase to Washington after his Christmas break. Mr. Leonard’s AC contacts kept him informed on the whereabouts of the Ace and it was eventually offered to him from an owner in Florida, with the original Bristol six-cylinder engine having been replaced by a small-block V-8 engine, a relatively common practice when the American iron could readily be bought and installed, in essence making BEX447 an early “Cobra.”

Circa 2000, BEX447 was restored and given a bare-metal repaint in dark blue while it was with a private owner in Santa Barbara, California. Photographs from this time show the car in bare metal with no body filler present. From 2004, BEX447 has been a favored part of a noted museum-quality private collection. Driving enjoyment is greatly enhanced with a five-speed manual transmission. The Consignor advises the V-8 engine functions well and in concert with the upgraded five-speed, the Ace drives great and rides on new tires. The dark blue paint finish is handsomely complemented by striking red upholstery and weather protection is delivered by side curtains and a new top-quality Robbins soft top. Additional items include a spare wheel and tire and a “knock-off” wheel hammer. Documents include a copy of the original warranty from AC Cars to Ron Leonard. As offered, this sleek and striking 1959 AC Ace Roadster carries wonderful early history and stands ready to deliver pure excitement.

1959 AC Ace Roadster
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