1950 AC 2-Litre Drophead Tourer

Extremely rare car, one of only 10 made and four surviving; from long-term ownership; fresh from a major restoration; needs minor detailing to finish

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 invalid carriages and golf buggies to the immortal AC Cobra.

By 1919 the company had designed a light, two-litre, six-cylinder engine and by 1923 the design had been refined to feature the now familiar aluminium block and sump, with steel liners for the cylinders. Light and powerful for its time, this engine was so successful it remained in production, with various improvements and modifications, until 1963!

AC enjoyed considerable success in the 1920s and, following a change of ownership in the early ‘30s, produced a succession of very elegant two- and four-seater sports cars, saloons and dropheads. Engine development continued, culminating in the triple SU carburettor set up, which saw power rise to 80bhp by the end of the ‘30s.

In the austere period immediately following the Second World War, the company recognised the need for stylish cars with a ‘sporting feel’, using the materials then available. It developed and produced the 2-litre Sports Saloon along with a series of derivatives, such as an open ‘Buckland’ Sports, a factory-built Sports Drophead and a four-door Saloon as well as a few special bodied cars. Production was high by AC standards, with the popular Saloon helping to sell a total of 1,286 2-litres of all types.

Correspondence on file from the AC Owners’ Club states that this AC Drophead Tourer left the Thames Ditton factory in March 1950 fitted with engine number UMB-1250 and was finished in Birch Grey with red leather trim. The registration number was OPB 209 and the first owner was Mr DP James of High Littleton, Somerset, as also confirmed by a letter and an old photograph of the car from Mr James’ daughter. The ACOC correspondence also states: “This car is historically significant being one of 10 produced, only four are known to survive”.

At some point the car subsequently found its way to America, the story picking up again in 1983 when the current owner brought it back to the UK from East Coast USA. At this point the car was complete but not in running order and required a fair amount of work. Already the owner of an AC Greyhound, the vendor then set about a full restoration of the 2-Litre which ultimately continued in fits and starts for over 30 years, including moves from Kelso to Lancashire to Worcestershire. 

The full extent of the work carried out is too detailed to itemise here but is amply documented in correspondence and many invoices on file. To summarise: the car was stripped down to a bare chassis and the ash frame was repaired/renewed as required. The aluminium body panels were restored by an ex-Morgan coachbuilder, the car ultimately being repainted in the original colour by Worcester Classic Cars. A new hood and hood cover were also professionally made and fitted.

On the mechanical side, the brakes/steering/suspension were overhauled; a new exhaust fitted; the wheels refurbished; the radiator was recored and a new wiring loom was fitted. The triple carb engine had been rebuilt by Christies of Croydon at the start of the restoration in the 1980s but a house move meant that it was never properly reassembled so it was rebuilt again with new liners, timing chain etc. in April 2014 by Rowland Rodgers Motor Engineers of Chipping Campden at a cost of £4,332.

Sadly, as the restoration was nearing completion, the owner died and the AC was put into the name of another family member in 2018. Starting promptly and driving nicely as we have moved it around on site with good 50psi oil pressure, it now needs only minor detailing to finish – the boot area and the footwells need trimming, the carpets are somewhat domestic and the door fit could be improved.

A most rare and interesting car, with all the hard work done, it is on offer here at a modest guide price which leaves ample scope for the finishing touches required.

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

Reg No: OPB209
Chassis Number: EL1250
Engine Number: UMB-1250
Engine Size: 1991cc
Docs: V5C; ACOC correspondence; invoices; copy handbook; technical literature; wiring diagrams; blueprints etc

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

Estimate: £15,000-18,000

Lot 315

Lot ended

Thursday 23/06/2022

Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)

Auction details and terms
  • Put in your highest bid you would be prepared to go to.
  • Bidding at the last moment may leave you disappointed. Any earlier bid is always taken first, so doing this may only push someone else up and prevent you from becoming the highest bidder.
  • No bids can be placed once the time remaining ends, therefore do not delay.