1937 AC 16/80 “Short Chassis” Competition Model Sports Two-Seater
Chassis No. L631
Engine No. UMB 294 (Currently fitted)
Registration No. ELN 160
Original Engine No. UBS 7589 complete and included in the sale
While the post-war offerings from AC are perhaps better known, the company had gained their reputation of producing well engineered and superbly finished sports cars before WWII. Like most British motorcar manufacturers, AC had suffered financial difficulties during the 1920s and in 1930 the company was purchased by the Hurlock brothers who focused on the production of sporting cars of a high quality for the discerning enthusiast owner/driver.
The chassis of the 16/80 “Short Chassis” Competition Model was an under-slung design with a 8’10” wheelbase. The famous Weller-designed six-cylinder overhead camshaft engine, which had first been introduced in 1922, was developed to produce 80bhp. Synchromesh gearboxes were standard across the range from 1935 onwards and other noteworthy features included automatic chassis lubrication, built-in jacks and Telecontrol shock absorbers. Between 1935 and 1939 just forty-two 2-seat 16/80 cars were produced, the first twenty-eight cars featuring a slab tank design and the final fourteen with a hidden top and fastback tail. The prototype had been designed by Freddy March, heir to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, whose design team was responsible for some of the finest sporting coachwork of the period
The 16/80 offered for sale here is of the latter fastback style and was delivered new to Miss Clare Mary Hope-Edwards, of Netley Hall, Shropshire (The future Lady More) and registered ELN 160 on the 22nd December 1937. According to correspondence between previous owners and Miss Hope-Edwards/Lady More, the AC was an upgrade from a small Lagonda. A photograph on file shows Miss Hope-Edwards with her AC when nearly new. Finished originally in grey with red upholstery and with black wire wheels, ‘ELN 160’ was clearly well loved by Miss Hope-Edwards as she retained ownership of the car until 1951. In the correspondence she recalls that the people from AC had visited here shortly after delivery of the car to ensure that the seat fitted comfortably. Describing ‘ELN 160’ as “something special” and the best car she ever had, only she and her chauffer were permitted to drive the AC and a further story recounts a journey to North Wales where Miss Edwards drove the car on the sands at over 100 mph!
During the 1950s ‘ELN 160’ remained in the south London area. In 1957 David Sinnett-Jones, of Thames Ditton, purchased the AC and between 1957 and 1962 raced the car extensively, eventually lowering it, fitting cycle wings, an aero screen and an outside exhaust. By then ‘ELN 160’ had been painted bright yellow and earned itself the nickname “The Flying Banana.” Photographs contained within the history file show the car being driven in anger by Sinnett-Jones and a copy of his autobiography, Passion For Life, is also included in the file and features the AC. ‘ELN 160’ changed hands two further times during the 1960s until, in 1970, it was sold into long-term ownership with a prominent member of the AC Owners Club. During this time ‘ELN 160’ was treated to a full and thorough restoration.
In 2007 ‘ELN 160’ was sold to John J. Dalassandro in the United States. Following his death the car was sold at auction in 2009. In 2012 the AC competed admirably at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion finishing a highly creditable 8th out of 26 entrants in a race for pre-1940 Sports Racing and Touring cars. ‘ELN 160’ also participated in The Quail Lodge Motorsports Gathering.
The current owner purchased ‘ELN 160’ in 2013 and brought the car back to the UK. During his ownership he has discovered and purchased the original engine for the AC, which, complete (minus) ancillaries, is included in the sale of the car. Recent works have been entrusted to Alan Brooke, and the vendor has only used the car sparingly in recent years.
Offered for sale with an extensive history file, detailing the exciting life lead by this Post-Vintage thoroughbred sports car, ‘ELN 160’ is eligible for numerous competition events worldwide, and will offer the new owner an equally comfortable long distance tourer.