Classic Van Auction Talk

Monday 18 June 2018

1976 AC 3000ME - Bicester Classic Motoring Auction Centre Bicester Heritage, Buckingham Road, Bicester Oxfordshire OX26 5HA Sunday 24th June 2018


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Bicester Classic Motoring Auction Centre
Bicester Heritage, Buckingham Road, Bicester
Oxfordshire OX26 5HA

Sunday 24th June 2018

 1976 AC 3000ME
Registration: C573 ULW
Chassis No: ME301RE0000210
Engine: 2,994cc
Engine No: 3J265101
Estimate: £20,000 - £25,000
One of the oldest independent car makers in British history, AC Cars can trace its roots right back to 1903 but the real glory days of the firm were during the 1960s when they offered fabulous machines like the Ace, the Aceca, the 428 and, of course, the immortal Cobra.
The dramatic 3000ME was first shown in 1973 but did not actually go on sale until 1979. It was based on a design developed by Lola engineers Peter Bohanna and Robin Stables while working after hours in the Lola drawing office and featured a monocoque perimeter steel chassis with substantial bolt-on front and rear subframes, a double bulkhead structure, an internal roll-over bar and additional steel beams inside the doors.
With lightweight GRP bodywork, chunky Wolfrace alloy wheels and aggressive wedge styling, it looked sensational and a mid-mounted Ford 3-litre V6 mated to a 5-speed Hewland gearbox gave it the go to match the show with a 0 - 60 time of 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 120mph. Ride and handling were also excellent thanks to precise rack-and-pinion steering, all-round disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension with anti-squat and anti-dive geometry.
Offering an intoxicating blend of Italian style, supercar looks and gutsy performance, it looked set to be another winner but sadly this was not to be. The combination of a worldwide recession and the poor health of company owner Derek Hurlock meant that AC went bust in 1985 after just 106 examples had been made, the first 76 built by AC Cars in Thames Ditton, the last 30 by AC Scotland in Hillingdon near Glasgow where production had moved in 1984 after the Surrey factory closed down.
First registered in May 1986, this Cherry Red AC is chassis number 210 which makes it the third from last car built (chassis numbers ran from 104 to 212 but 105 and 107 were never used). It has had only two recorded keepers from new, the first being a Charles Chiu of London W2 who kept it right up until 2011, and is showing just 4,333 miles on the clock which is said to be correct.
Originally supplied by B&H Motors of Whetstone, London N20, the car retains the original dealer sticker in the rear window and the original dealer-monogrammed number plates. When the car was last advertised it was stated to have been in dry storage for some 15 years and had 3,760 miles on the clock.
The advert further stated that: “The condition of this car can best be described as a ‘time capsule’… The tub and subframes are rust-free, the bodywork fresh and unmarked just as it left the factory. Initial evidence suggests that this car may not have been driven in the rain. The doors shut with a reassuring ‘clunk’ – just like a new car should.” Having had a good look at it for ourselves, we can confirm that these observations remain largely true to this day, the car showing only minimal signs of age and wear as you would expect of such a low mileage 32-year-old vehicle.
Since coming out of storage the car has been fully recommissioned with several invoices from early 2014 including a gearbox overhaul, a full brake system overhaul with new calipers, new pads and all four discs grooved and skimmed plus a new set of tyres. It was driven from Wiltshire to Goodwood and back for the 72nd Members Meeting at the end of March 2014 during which it “performed faultlessly” according to an email on file.
Since then the car has been kept in storage once again as part of a private collection. Freshly recommissioned for sale and treated to a rolling road tune-up, it started instantly and ran beautifully as we moved it around for these photos and flew through its MOT in September last year with no advisories recorded.
Period features include the original Radiomobile radio, sunroof storage bag, tool roll and wheel-changing kit. Documentation includes a V5C, the aforementioned invoices, one old MOT from 2013/14, technical information about the model, a copy of an owner’s handbook and an original 8-page AC 3000ME sales brochure (a collector’s item in its own right).
Surely the most original and lowest mileage example you could ever hope to find, this rare and striking sportscar would sit well in any collection.

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