History of the 1947 - 1956 AC 2-Litre
The AC 2-Litre was a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive 4/5-seater that was available as a two- or four-door saloon, a drophead coupe or an open tourer, each version being highly regarded for its comfort and performance. Production ran from 1947 to 1958.
Launched in March 1947, the AC 2-Litre was notable as the company’s first new post-war car. The wood-framed aluminium-panelled body was attached to a steel chassis and the suspension was a front beam axle, with leaf springs and tubular dampers, and a rear floating Moss axle with leaf springs and Girling lever arm dampers. From 1949 onwards there was a semi-floating ENV back axle and AC fitted tubular dampers from 1950. Steering was by Bishop cam and the brakes on the early versions comprised of hydraulic drums at the front with cable-operated drums at the rear -- in 1952 this was replaced by an all-hydraulic system. The standard equipment included leather upholstery and an adjustable steering column.
The two-door AC 2-Litre was augmented in late 1948 by two new variants. The drophead coupe with fixed side windows was aimed at export markets, but production was short-lived, ceasing in 1950. There was also the Buckland roadster which was made for AC by the Buckland Body Works of Buntingford. The coachwork boasted a folding windscreen and, on the later versions, cutaway doors.
In 1952 the 2-Litre was also available as a four-door saloon and the drophead was facelifted with a larger boot and rear screen, although only one of the latter was built. In the following year, the Buckland ceased production but AC then made a small number of their own ‘2-Litre Sports Tourer’ with the same body. From 1955 onwards the AC 2-Litre was available only to special order; the last four-door was made in 1957 and the final two-door in 1958.
Power for the AC 2-Litre was a 1991cc SOHC straight-6 engine with triple SU carburettors. The gearbox had four speeds with no synchromesh on the bottom ratio.
The Buckland, the Sports Tourer and the drophead coupe are commonly regarded as the most desirable variants of the AC 2-Litre. However, all models combine vintage charm –- the design of the smooth-revving engine dates back to 1919 -- with a svelte post-war appearance, a well-trimmed interior and fine road manners. The centre of gravity is low and the steering is precise by the standards of the day.
Ill-closing doors might denote a distorted body and the plywood panelling of the front footwells and of the floor under the front seat should be checked. The wing-bolt joints are vulnerable to corrosion as are the steel front inner wings and the rear chassis. The engine is notoriously prone to cylinder head gasket leaks and malfunctioning water pumps. Some parts, such as the door handles, may be difficult to source.
Alternatives to the AC 2-Litre include the Alvis TA14, the Bristol 400, 401, 402 and 403, the Lea Francis 14, the 2½-litre Riley RMB and RMF saloons and the open-topped Riley RMC and RMD.