AC GHIA CONCEPT
Black with black cloth interior
Carroll Shelby took the AC Bristol roadster from AC Cars, Ltd. in Thames Ditton, Surrey and made it immortal by the simple expedient of squeezing Ford's new lightweight small block V8 into the space formerly occupied by the AC and Bristol in-line six cylinder engines. He called his Ford engined AC Ace the Cobra and created a legend in only seven short but exciting years.
The body of the original 1953 AC Ace was inspired by the Italian "barchettas" (little boats) of the early Fifties. Its purposeful appearance was a strong factor in its appeal and that of the Cobra.
AC itself continued to rely on Ford drivetrains in the years after Cobra production ended, developing the luxurious "businessman's express" AC 428 fastback and convertible again bodied with Italian flair by Frua. Only eighty or so examples were built, however, and AC entered a period of decline, finally electing to return to the car business with a modern mid-engined coupe first shown in 1973. The 3000 ME, as it was called, utilized a 138 horsepower 3-liter Ford V6, transversely mounted in an independently sprung chassis. Production did not begin, however, until 1979 by which time the early Seventies design was becoming dated.
It could have been much different had AC adopted the styling proposed by Ford's Turin, Italy-based Ghia Operations in the AC Ghia concept offered here.
This sleek concept is tight, spare, compact and purposeful. Its gracefully rounded wedge-shaped profile is timely without going over the top, flowing smoothly from the integrated front air dam to the rear deck spoiler. The windshield seems to grow almost seamlessly from the nose while buttresses continue the roofline down to the deck lid behind the vertical rear window. A practical proposal, Ghia's AC concept appears to utilize the 3000 ME platform with no visible functional changes.
The AC Ghia concept is amazingly compact, less than 12½ feet long, only 3 feet 10 inches high and under 5 feet wide, yet it has a comfortable interior upholstered and trimmed in black cloth. Configured in right hand drive for the UK market where the 3000 ME was sold, the AC Ghia concept has 2-piece alloy wheels with 225/50VR-15 Pirelli P7 tires, definitely the hot ticket for performance cars in 1982. The rear wheels have a deep offset which accentuate the AC Ghia's powerful stance. Driving lights are integrated in the front air dam. The traditional curved AC emblem adorns the wheel center caps and the center of the leather-rimmed 3-spoke steering wheel.
The windows in the AC Ghia concept are plexiglass and the original paint is sound but showing its age. The rear deck and engine cover are scratched, however the interior appears to be in good original condition. The body is constructed in metal and the AC Ghia concept's fit, finish and function demonstrates the artistry of the craftsmen at Ghia.
AC owed much of its success in the Fifties to the timeless Italian styling of its barchetta-style Ace. It is not hard to imagine that the AC Ghia concept might have contributed to success for the 3000 ME platform thirty years later. This is a tight, sculptured form that still, after another twenty years, looks timely among today's crop of small mid-engined sports cars.