Saturday 24th August 2019,

AC 2 Litre 1948 – 1958: The Economy Advantage Over Big Engines

By 1947 `streamlining` had come into fashion. Before WW II British cars had been very `upright`, with vertical radiators and spare-wheels on the running boards. During the war there were many American cars (mostly military) running around British cities, making British cars look old-fashioned. The British motor industry had gone into hibernation (war production) in 1939, the American cars were not only stylish, they were `space-age`.

AC Cars got back to work as soon as the Ministry of Defence got out of their way. Strategically there was no point in trying to graft 1939 motoring onto the 1946 public. They would never accept it. Therefore, AC went to work on a `new generation` product. No car could ever be `all things to all men` so AC selected it`s target market, the `sporting gentleman` motorist rather than the `race competitor`.

Petrol was in short supply, rationing was still in force and all motor-sport was banned. A sports-car did not seem to be a sensible model choice. As this decision was being agonized over at AC, Jaguar was planning the XK 120! However, AC was not Jaguar, AC`s priorities were different.

They decided to build a luxurious, high-quality sports coupe with an up-to-date streamlined, light-weight body style. It must be flexible in it`s application, not a `specialist` vehicle. The outcome of all the discussion was the AC 2 litre. It would have looked a little strange but for the fact that Aston-Martin Lagonda, Bristol and Alvis had all come to the same conclusion and were building similar cars for release in 1947.

The AC had an advantage over the competition, economy. All the competing cars had good performance figures but relied on big-capacity, thirsty engines. AC had a secret weapon, the Weller 6. This engine was now in it`s third decade of service and was better than ever. There was no waving of magic-wands going on to keep it fresh. AC`s engineers had modified and improved the `old stager` through it`s life to date. Pound-for-pound it was a better engine than the Jaguar XK. Weller`s secrets had long since been discovered but the industry was slow to catch up. Ford were still using a side-valve V8 in the `ultra-modern` Ford V8 Pilot in 1947!

With expanded and polished porting the OHC cylinder-head was more than modern, it was futuristic. Fly-wheel lightening and balancing allowed the engine to achieve and maintain high engine revolutions. Still only 1991cc the power output could not be matched by most bigger engines.

The Moss synchromesh 4-speed gearbox was the most popular transmission. Hydraulic brakes had now replaced the dreadful rod system. The traditional ash-timber frame was still there and the swept-back, streamlined alloy body was fashionable and stylish. It was a big car, giving the designers the room they needed to satisfy the management`s requirement for flexibility of application.

The `2 litre` was available as a two or four door coupe. It was also available as a drop-head coupe or a two-seater. The passenger cabin was big enough for the long-distance traveler, even when carrying four people. The boot was spacious and the interior was superbly finished in leather and walnut.

Pressed-steel wheels with chrome hubcaps were fitted (the new fashion) but many owners specified wire-wheels which gave the car a sporty, rakish look. It should be no surprise that many AC 2 Litre cars found their way into various competitions when the fuel shortage eased around 1950. Some were later fitted with Arnott`s supercharger unofficially, there obviously was no way to keep AC enthusiasts away from motor-sport!

It was a superb machine, almost `all things to all men`. Another true classic car that has since been forgotten. From 1947 to it`s retirement in 1958 the AC 2 litre (all variants) achieved a production total of 1284 units.

AC 2 Litre 1948-1958
Body Types4/2 seater 2 door DHC
5 seater 2 door saloon
5 seater 4 door saloon
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Cargo VolumeVery useful
Engine2 Litre SOHC 12V Weller
Cylindersstraight 6
Displacement1991 cc121.5 cui
Power57 Kw76 bhp4500 RPM
Torque136 Nm100 ft. lb2500 RPM
Power/weight58 bhp/t
Top Speed130 km/h81 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph19.2 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight1320 kg2910 lb
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AC 2 Litre 1948 - 1958: The Economy Advantage Over Big Engines, 8.1 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.


  1. Beverley Wood (Mr) 26. November 2016 at 18:50

    When I was a fairly young lad, in the sixties, I propelled my large go-cart round to my friend`s place – a flat above Eagle garage in Snaresbrook, (now gone). The father, Dennis Leitch, owned a brown A.C. 2 litre saloon and later suggested that, as it was getting dark – and as my home was quite a distance away – we ought to take my “machine” back on the back of the said car. The boot lid and the shape of the bodywork formed, as you readers very well know, a nice wedge to place my go-cart, inverted, on. There was some overlap each side despite the width of the A.C being greater than many other cars around at that time, but things were a bit calmer in those days – so it didn`t seem to matter! No tying down was deemed necessary, and we went sedately home with just gravity keeping the load perfectly stable. That was the only time I ever rode in that car, my memory of it being, not surprisingly, very quiet. very smooth and very comfortable. Unfortunately, some years later, Dennis got very worried about spares, etc, He sold it to, I hope, an enthusiast, rather than to someone who would just run the car and finish its life in the ground, and bought a Wolsey 6/110. A nice enough car, but compared to the A C ……..!! It is so good to see all these models at rallies, which I view on the computer. However it is many, many years since I have actually seen on in the flesh. Another car I have a sneaking regard for, ever since I spotted it my Dumpy book of Motors, is the Armstrong Siddely “Hurricane. Hope this hasn`t been a bore!

  2. Pin 20. April 2016 at 18:42

    Nice to see the AC remembered – Just a few comments: The Alvis TA14 was 1.9 litres (1892 cc) and the Bristol, like the AC was a 2 Litre so not sure about the economy advantages of the competition. The 2 Litre saloon didn’t have polished ports and was actually de-tuned to produce less power than the pre-war version of the engine from the 16/80. It also had a much heavier flywheel than ever before fitted to this engine which was an early dual – mass type intended to try and reduce torsional crankshaft vibration. You very rarely see these cars on wire wheels which I don’t think was ever a factory option and probably doesn’t suit them that well.
    Thanks for reminding people of this now rather rare vehicle!

  3. southee 14. October 2015 at 14:33

    Hi I own one of these and it has done 120,000 has been fully rebuilt and still goes well today. It is in regular use (1500 miles in last 3 months). It is admired everywhere it goes. I love it. Great article.

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