1949 AC BucklandView vehicle description
- Location: Shilton, Oxon
- Odometer Reading: 06870
- Chassis Number: EL1632
- Engine: 1991
- Gearbox: Manual
- Color: White
- Interior: Black
The AC Buckland is a true coachbuilt car: the AC factory supplied Buckland Bodyworks with a rolling chassis, enabling the Royston-based coachbuilder to fit its own five-seater open touring body. The cutaway doors mark this example as one of the more numerous MK2 cars, and the ‘EL’ chassis numbers denotes hydro-mechanical brakes with an ENV rear axle.
The chassis is fairly conventional being formed of U-section steel. However, the coachwork comprises an ash frame, over which is fitted an all-aluminium body and ‘suicide’ doors. This very British solution ensures that rust is never a problem – and nor is weight, important given its not-inconsiderable dimensions; the AC Buckland weighs in at a relatively lithe 1,320kgs, enabling the six-cylinder, 2-litre engine to propel it to a top speed of between 80 and 90mph despite boasting only 74bhp and 100lb/ft of torque.
This performance encouraged owners to race the AC Buckland in period, at circuits like Silverstone and Brands Hatch. It was also the first AC to race at Goodwood, running there in 1953.
Built in 1949 but not appearing to be registered until the 25th March 1951, this AC Buckland was Buckland’s prototype demonstrator and the very car that Motorsport magazine tested in its September 1952 edition. (A copy of the article will be included with the car and can be inspected in the Gallery) Interestingly, the car retains its original registration number.
A brief history for the car is available from 1971 onwards. Believed to have been restored in the 1960s, the emphasis appears to have been on strength and durability rather than finish; so the work that was carried out, especially on the bodywork, is slightly more functional than pretty and the records show that the work was never finished.
Further work was carried out in the early 1970s by it’s owner, a marque-expert; an AC saloon was bought for spares and, given its important history, retaining the integrity of the car’s originality became a priority. The car was put back on the road between 1972 and 1973, after which it was put on blocks and stored for the next 38 years!
The car surfaced in 2011, when the current owner and vendor bought it at auction. Knowing that the engine needed work from a prior cooling problem, the current owner had it overhauled and then enjoyed using the AC for elegant trips to the local pub and classic car gatherings. Unfortunately the engine/cooling issues resurfaced, the AC is a non-runner and as a result, the winning bidder will need to trailer the car away.
The car also comes with a truly vast quantity of spare parts, including an engine block, cylinder head, carburettor assembly, two front and two rear wings, radiator and cowl, gearbox, distributor, side-screen frames, and hub caps plus a huge quantity of miscellaneous mechanical, electrical and trim components.
We have attached an inventory to the listing. This was accurate at the time it was compiled (for the 2011 auction?) but potential bidders should inspect our photos to satisfy themselves as to the contents before bidding if these items are important to them.
On the Outside
The alloy bodywork is in good condition but the paintwork has more of a utilitarian finish than the car deserves. We’ve included over 100 photographs to enable you to make your own mind up but our view is that a full respray will be needed at some point.
The folding windscreen works as it should, and while the car is currently fitted with a tonneau cover, a folding frame for a full hood is available in the collection of spares that comes with the vehicle. This has, to the best of his knowledge, never been fitted and a hood would need to be sourced.
The car has been sympathetically upgraded with the installation of front and rear indicators, an important safety upgrade that we wholeheartedly approve of.
On the Inside
The interior is generally complete but in need of sympathetic renovation. All the original Smiths’ gauges – including the rather lovely AC-branded combined water/oil/amps/fuel gauge – are present and correct, as is the delightful Bluemel’s ‘Brooklands’ four-spoke wooden steering wheel, although the latter looks like it might need some work to bring it back to its original glory.
However, for those who prefer their cars in good, usable condition we’ve no doubt that a full clean would return the interior to a decent standard; if you look beyond the dirt, it’s in surprisingly good condition.
The straight six engine has been rebuilt and the cylinder head skimmed at the start of the current owner’s care but, sadly, there is no receipt for the work. Problem was the car still seemed to run hot. A couple of years ago, at the end of another trip, the owner’s fears were confirmed on opening the bonnet; some bubbling from the head gasket. Two years later, and sadly the AC remains garaged, but untouched, and some sort of engine work must be assumed. The owner tells us that there was a cold spot on the radiator, so we’d suggest that the first step in troubleshooting this problem would be to replace or re-core it.
The seller also tells us that he believes the ash frame is in good condition and is free of rot. We haven’t been able to verify this for ourselves, but given the long periods of indoor storage it sounds plausible. Similarly the chassis appears to have surface rust, but no obvious rot was found during our visit to take the photographs.
A brake servo has been installed to more easily modulate the brakes and the owner tells us that it drives and handles “very well”.
The car comes with a copy of the road-test report, and a few documents giving a potted, rather than comprehensive history. The displayed mileage is low, but there is no way of warrantying it via the history.
The Gallery has a comprehensive set of over 100 photos to allow you to accurately ascertain the condition of the top, underneath, mechanics and trove of spares.
What We Think
The AC Buckland Tourer is an incredibly rare car; while build records are sketchy (the factory originals were lost in a fire), it is thought that no more than 82 were ever built – and while we’ve no idea what the attrition rate is, we’re willing to bet that it’s quite high…
Which doesn’t, of course, automatically make this a valuable car. However, AC is a British company with an impeccable pedigree, and the cars have always been admired by cognoscenti. Good examples of the AC Buckland are now fetching £40-50,000 but we accept that this is very far from a very good example.
But it is a very sound example, and comes with a van-load of spares and would form the basis of a very satisfying restoration: the owner estimates that the new owner would need to spend in the region of £6-10,000 to bring it up to a good, usable condition. The engine coolant problem needs sorting, it ultimately needs a lick of paint and some other TLC, but the work that is needed looks to be fairly straightforward and shouldn’t trouble either the DIYer or any competent classic car garage.
Nonetheless, setting a price is something of a guess but we think it should reach low five figures, a price we think offers plenty of scope for a sensible, cost-effective restoration without leaving the new owner with a car that owes them more than it’s worth. And we are fairly sure you won’t find another in this price bracket for quite a while.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be seen at the owner’s home in North Oxfordshire; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.
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