Pierre restores an AC 3000 ME, the automobile his father helped create 50 years in the past

Fresh from the pages of Practical Classics Magazine, we meet Pierre Bohanna, who has restored the AC 3000 ME his father helped to create over 50 years in the past, and Nick Favell, who restored his household’s Vauxhall Magnum Sportshatch for his brother-in-law’s sixtieth birthday.  

As a specialist basic automobile insurance coverage dealer, we love seeing previous vehicles being restored to their former glory, which is why we’ve linked up with Practical Classics to deliver you two implausible tales every month so that you can digest and take as inspiration on your personal basic rebuilds. 

Pierre Bohanna restores the AC 3000 ME that his dad helped create half a century in the past

Words by John Simister and Pictures by Matt Howell

AC 3000 ME

Father-and-son tales all the time heat the guts when there’s a restoration concerned. Two generations sharing a standard job, with a shiny, resurrected automobile the rewarding end result. For this AC 3000 ME, although, the concept takes on a complete new twist: on this case, the daddy designed the automobile. 

And now, to honour the much-missed father’s reminiscence, the son buys a really drained instance made in direction of the top of a troubled manufacturing run, and restores it to better-than-new situation. Meet Pierre Bohanna, son of the late Peter, his French spouse Jacqueline, and his fabulous 1985 AC that’s the last-but-one of the mannequin to be constructed.

So, what precisely is an AC 3000 ME? It’s mid-engined, clearly, and it was AC’s plan for a post-Cobra (and post-invalid carriage – keep in mind these tiny, pre-Motability, single-seaters in pale turquoise?) future. But it wasn’t completely AC’s personal design any greater than the Ace or the Cobra have been. At the 1972 Racing Car Show there was displayed a neat, mid-engined, two-seater sports activities coupé referred to as Diablo, designed as a potential package automobile and powered by an Austin Maxi engine. It was the work of two males who had labored for the Lola racing automobile firm, designer Peter Bohanna and finance man Robin Stables.

They created it of their workshop close to Stokenchurch, Bucks. It was fairly a household affair: “I used to put the fibreglass and clear the moulds,” remembers Jacqueline immediately. But British Leyland wouldn’t agree to produce engines, and the Diablo appeared on the present with an unsure future till AC boss Derek Hurlock got here on the stand. A deal was executed, and the seed for the 3000 ME was sown. “AC didn’t really do something for fairly a very long time, although,” Pierre tells us, “nor did they pay. Peter and Robin weren’t what I might name businessmen.”

They obtained some cash for his or her design ultimately, however most likely ought to have gotten extra. Meanwhile AC, with assist from Bohanna and Stables, started to set about altering the Diablo to its wants, altering the tubular chassis for a sheet metal one and choosing a 3.0-litre Ford Essex V6 engine. The new automobile appeared at each Earls Court, and later NEC, motor present over the subsequent few years, with manufacturing all the time ‘imminent’, however delays, together with the necessity to conform to altering crash-test guidelines, meant that you simply couldn’t purchase a 3000 ME till 1979.

Peter Bohanna and Robin Stables went on to create the Nymph package automobile, an Imp-based tackle the Citroën Méhari thought, then parted firm after perhaps 20 had been made. Later, Peter went into the world of movie props, together with the Lotus Esprit submarine within the Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. Before then, although, Peter had a few ME prototypes to drive: Pierre remembers a “chocolatey muddy brown one and one other in a mushy camouflage pea-green. One of my earliest reminiscences was sitting within the passenger seat and never having the ability to see over the dashboard.”

The first street assessments of the AC 3000 ME weren’t as enthusiastic because the automobile’s credentials recommended they need to have been. Motor journal was so involved on the snap lift-off oversteer it tried to get the manufacturing facility to treatment the fault earlier than any vehicles have been delivered to patrons. A change of tyre specification tamed the tail, however the worth was too excessive and AC managed to promote simply 76 vehicles earlier than manufacturing on the Thames Ditton manufacturing facility stopped in 1984. 

It then restarted beneath a brand new firm, Glasgow-based AC Cars (Scotland) plc, which managed 30 extra vehicles bought at a extra aggressive worth earlier than pulling the plug the next 12 months.

But the AC stayed particular to Pierre. “I used to be all the time going to personal a 3000 ME in the future,” he says. “Many years after my father handed away I began a enterprise with one in all his associates, Patrick Griffin. In 2013 I noticed automobile quantity 211, the final however one to be made in Glasgow, on the market at a Brightwells public sale. It had points, however would make an awesome challenge for us to do collectively. I assumed it will go for about £12,000, however we set the bar at £18,000.” 

Pierre and Pat have been removed from the one ones after the AC, however by £17,000 simply two bidders have been left. The different bidder labored the value as much as £17,900, so Pierre put in yet one more bid at his £18,000 ceiling – and obtained the AC, to a lot applause.

“It had lurked beneath a tarpaulin in Glasgow for 12 years, and the paint was blistered and horrible. So after just a few months of changing minor odds and ends I despatched it off for a repaint at Mech Spray in Rochester.”

With the unique black paint eliminated, the fibreglass physique was discovered to be in fine condition aside from proof of just a little knock on the entrance. Mechspray’s Peter and Wayne repaired the harm, reinstated the black, added a mud of metallic particles and completed off with blue-tinted lacquer to create the deeply lustrous darkish blue we see immediately.

Pierre quickly realised his keenness to make the AC look good had obtained forward of him. The entrance and rear sections of the previous couple of 3000 MEs’ chassis have been galvanised, however not the central tub which on this case, he says, “was utterly shot”. The finest plan was to make an entire new chassis, so Ian Winter from the AC Owners’ Club lent Pierre a spare one which a piece colleague, David Merryweather, may copy in CAD drawings. From these the chassis was constructed up in stainless-steel by Barry and Clive at BWB Engineering in Ashford, Middlesex, whom Pierre had recognized since his early twenties.

When the time got here it proved to be an ideal match, however we’re getting forward of ourselves. “I now realised that I must take the entire automobile aside, which was thrilling as a primary challenge but in addition a bit daunting,” Pierre says. Meanwhile his life was getting busier and Pat’s well being was failing, so automobile 211, nice on prime however tragic beneath, sat within the storage doing nothing for just a few years.

Around this time, Pierre ordered an MGB LE Abingdon Edition from Frontline Developments, an excellent more-than-restomod with a tuned NC-generation MX-5 engine. “That course of took about two very gratifying years, and I grew to become good associates with Tim Fenna and Ed Braclik who owned Frontline. Could they do the stripdown and rebuild for me? Despite how busy they have been, they agreed to take it on. Two of their guys, Andy and Bill, did the arduous work, principally Andy, however with Bill ending off and doing the electrics.”

Sounds easy, summed up like that. But there was an enormous quantity to do, not least as a result of Pierre needed to include just a few enhancements. One of those was a brand new instrument and swap panel, machined from one piece of strong aluminium – together with the dial bezels – by Jim at Wycombe Engineering, one in all Pierre’s helpful contacts on the planet of movie props. 

It replaces the previous two items of leather-based cloth-covered aluminium sheet with Jaguar XJ6 switches, however the authentic devices are retained, the minor ones now barely angled in direction of the driving force. Most of the unique wiring loom stays, too, with extras added by Bill. Frontline then retrimmed all the inside aside from the seats, and a heated windscreen got here from a batch made by the AC Owners’ Club.

There have been the composite bumpers to repair, too, which is the place Pierre’s work in making moulded movie props helped. “The originals had began to degrade and didn’t match nicely,’ he says, ‘so we constructed new patterns. A pre-shaped foam block is positioned into the sample and a urethane pores and skin is solid round it.”

On the mechanical facet, Classic and Modern in Bracknell rebuilt the transversely-mounted 2994cc V6 with, says Pierre, “a barely funkier camshaft”. A brand new Weber carburettor breathes by means of a Okay&N filter, there’s a brand new electrical gasoline pump to treatment vapour locks, a brand new ‘saddle’ petrol tank to feed it, and the entire ensemble delivers round 160bhp as a substitute of the unique 138. 

And it appears nice, due to a bespoke pair of rocker covers once more machined from strong by the proficient Jim. To treatment some surge and shunt, Frontline added regular bars in entrance of and behind the engine to cease it rocking.

Then there’s the five-speed gearbox, utilizing Maxi internals in AC’s casing and pushed by chain from the engine. Graham at Custom Gearboxes did the rebuild: “He was gruff at first, however his perspective completely modified as soon as he obtained began. ‘It’s like a Dino gearbox,’ he mentioned, “and I’m not letting another idiots close to it.”

As you’ll count on in a low-volume sports activities automobile, there are proprietary elements: taillights from a Triumph, rear hub bearings shared with a Ford RS200 (they’re £700 a pair), a pair of gasoline fillers from a Jaguar XJ6. One was past salvation, however Pierre discovered one other from an previous XJ6 getting used as a movie prop.

And tyres, given the dealing with bother again in 1979? “Originally they have been 205/60 R14 all spherical, however these days the consultants say they need to be 195/60 on the entrance and 215/60 on the again. It feels nice to me.”

So, is there something left to do? “The catch for the pop-up sunroof has all the time been a weak design and this one is damaged at one finish. The membership is planning to make some extra.”

Finally, in June 2021, C654 GGB was completed. “It was eight years since she got here into my world,” Pierre remembers. “Tim Fenna introduced it over to my home, then I drove it over to Goring the place my mom lives. I referred to as her: ‘I’m on the drive.’ When she got here out and noticed the automobile, it was very emotional for each of us.”

What is it wish to drive?

It’s a wonderful restoration of an already handsome machine, with an nearly new-car crispness. And that V6 sounds nice because the AC burbles out in direction of the principle street. I’m sitting low and reclined, a compact steering wheel fronting that scrumptious machined dashboard and its exactly appearing switches, gearchange rendered mechanical-feeling by an open gate that’s pure Ferrari fantasy. And additionally true to its Maranello inspiration, the shift doesn’t wish to be rushed.

The gearing is sort of long-legged, however the engine has the torque to manage. It’s punchier than previous street assessments recommended, due to the better-breathing camshaft, and at greater revs it takes on a correct snarl. 

Read the complete model of how Pierre managed to revive this AC 3000 ME on the Practical Classics web page.

Restoring the household’s Magnum Sportshatch for my brother-in-laws sixtieth

Words by Nigel Clark and Pictures by Matt Howell

Nick Favell can flip his hand to any problem, together with the household Magnum. Asked about his first curiosity on the planet of vehicles, Favell remembers his earliest childhood reminiscence of sitting at the back of a Jaguar Mk VII, pushed by his father not lengthy after Favell senior had handed his driving check within the sixties. 

“I keep in mind the weird opposing wiper association on the Mk VII’s break up windscreen, and being advised off for sticking my arm out the rear door quarterlights!” He laughs.

Jumping ahead 20 years to the early eighties, Nick discovered a part-time job as a forecourt attendant at a neighborhood Leicestershire Jet service station, the place the proprietor rapidly recognised younger Nick’s drive and willpower, giving him a chance on the spanners. “I used to be in a position to mix my workshop job with half time technical school research, gaining a City & Guilds motorized vehicle qualification.”

After just a few years, he grew to become an AA patrolman, after which grew to become his personal boss. “I arrange ‘Mr Clutch’, a specialist clutch becoming service based mostly in a workshop in Leicester.” This grew efficiently for a number of years earlier than Nick selected to maneuver on once more, working in garages together with a Vauxhall fundamental dealership, then in 2000 he arrange alone as a cellular mechanic operation. This nomadic existence continued till 2004, when he determined to purchase the right bricks and mortar premises he occupies to at the present time within the Leicestershire village of Countesthorpe.

Clearly Nick has lengthy had a private curiosity in basic vehicles: “native fanatic John Bowyer had been bringing his Zodiac Executive in for MoT once I took over right here and he continued to come back right here. Then when John needed a sympathetic workshop to revive his Zephyr, he introduced that to me as nicely. After various different jobs phrase unfold that we have been excited about taking care of basic vehicles at Favell’s Garage.” 

Pride of place in Nick’s assortment goes to his very authentic and well-presented Vauxhall Magnum Estate, which has been owned by his household from new since 1974. Nicknamed ‘Maggie the Magnum,’ it’s well-known in Vauxhall membership circles, because it’s uncommon to discover a seventies Magnum surviving in such nice situation. 

First owned by Nick’s sister’s late father-in-law, remarkably this automobile has been within the household since new. Finished in uncommon olivine inexperienced metallic, it handed to Nick’s brother-in-law within the mid-nineties, by which period typical previous automobile issues have been growing. Corrosion was taking maintain across the windscreen, scuttle and {one of the} entrance wings, and the entrance suspension wanted rebuilding. It sat in a storage as a stalled challenge till Nick took it beneath his wing.

“The preliminary goal was to get it again on the street for my brother in regulation’s sixtieth birthday.” Nick’s brother-in-law couldn’t assist however realise Nick had the Vauxhall in his workshop, however had no inkling of the extent of the work being carried out, or the deliberate sixtieth birthday deadline. 

The corrosion repairs have been difficult, because the required panels weren’t obtainable. Nick hand fabricated flooring restore panels and an inside sill from scratch, however found for the outer sill {that a} Ford Ka panel could possibly be tailored because it was an identical form. After slicing out the rot and welding the brand new panels in, the repaired areas have been repainted. Similarly, new metallic was fastidiously formed and grafted into the scuttle, windscreen body and the rotted nearside entrance wing, with the affected areas being painted. 

Turning to mechanical work, Nick says: “the entrance suspension had suffered the same old put on over time, so I changed bushes and ball joints on either side. Fortunately, not like the physique panels, these suspension elements have been all obtainable off the shelf.”

With these important repairs accomplished, the gleaming and now roadworthy Magnum was duly offered again to Nick’s brother-in-law as deliberate on his sixtieth birthday. The automobile was admired by educated show-goers as a lot for its rarity as its situation and historical past.

In 2014, the automobile handed to Nick himself; some additional work was mandatory. He sorted but extra corrosion, a caught clutch and had the automobile absolutely resprayed. Nick explains “the paint had change into non-standard over time, with varied panels not correctly matched. I had it absolutely resprayed again to the unique olivine inexperienced metallic.”

Asked concerning the future, unsurprisingly the Magnum will all the time stay within the household. Nick nonetheless has some jobs deliberate to enhance it additional: “subsequent, I’ll get the alloy wheels refurbished, and in a few years I wish to go proper by means of the engine bay, cleansing and repainting, to deliver it as much as the usual of the outside.” 

As for different impending initiatives, first he desires to get his Standard Ten again on the street as a each day driver. However, he does admit to a few basic pipedreams: “I’ve all the time fancied a Triumph Stag, and would additionally like a Jaguar Mk VII.” The Jag is after all the automobile his father owned and first impressed his curiosity in all issues automotive. 

Asked concerning the Stag, he says: “I really like the look of Triumphs from that period, the Michelotti styling. Four-seater convertibles are additionally a rarity and that’s another excuse it appeals to me.”

Nick’s story is one in all basic dedication: dedication to taking care of his prospects’ classics, and dedication to his personal initiatives in his spare time. Only a courageous and expert bodywork knowledgeable who grappled with a deeply corroded Nineteen Seventies Vauxhall… and who however a dedicated basic automobile fanatic would select a Standard Ten as each day transport? All energy to him. 

Read the complete model of how Nick managed to revive his household’s Magnum Sportshatch on the Practical Classics web page.