For the body style, what was needed was a large 4/5 seater saloon, with plenty of head-room and large window area. Harold Connolly drew out some ideas, some of which looked very similar to what went into production. Some of the modern trends in styling were incorporated, such as split windscreen and rear window. There were no running boards. Rear wings featured spats. The radiator grill and cowl were curve back with a compound curvature. Wings were essentially of helmet type, but extended backwards for a more sleek appearance. The bonnet was still long, but not excessively so as seen on many up-market pre-war cars. The style was pillarless, that is, the door hinge pillar (B post) only extended up to waist level, to help increase all-round visibility.
Polish engineer Z. T. Marczewski was a new addition to the staff at AC. He played a major role in turning the basics of this car chassis and body style into reality. The prototype saloon (built on the second chassis, number L801) appeared in early 1947, in time for the official launch of the new car in March. This car was very spacious and had a light and airy interior - just as the design brief expected! Classic/collectors car write-ups of the AC in much later years, often claimed this car to be heavy. In fact it was lighter than most of its rivals of similar size. Modern cars have since become a lot heavier, which leaves the AC looking very light indeed! The prototype was quoted as weighing 25 cwt (1270kg) for a car 15ft 4in (467cm) long.
This prototype initially had a separate frame for the split windscreen, but this was dropped in favour of two separate windows mounted directly into the body (with a fairly thick central pillar with the bonnet hinge moulding continued up this pillar). The production run of cars subsequently changed back to the idea of a separate windscreen frame during 1948.
The throttle was controlled by a cable rather than the traditional linkage system. All three pedals featured the AC emblem. Steering column was adjustable for length. The steering wheel was a plastic rimmed Bluemels Brooklands wheel, the rim having an attractive marble-like appearance. The prototype's front seating was initially a bench seat, but soon changed to a split seat to allow adjustments to each half separately. The interior upholstery/trim was high quality leather, walnut and cloth, plus velvet pile carpeting, although very plain looking. Under the wings were wire-mesh stone-guards. Actually they were a slush damping device, for preventing slush splashing out from under the wheel-arches.
The bonnet was hinged at its rear, and had an elaborate system for opening it. A small ridge on top of the AC mascot, was in fact a release lever. Pull it up, and the bonnet was opened by springs and then locked itself open without the need for a prop. If the bonnet was then pushed up a little further, another pull on the lever would allow said bonnet to drop down gently, ready to be pushed home by hand. Electric lighting was installed in the engine bay. The bonnet had two pairs of louvres directing warm air onto the windscreens for de-misting.
Accessibility for maintenance was given plenty of thought. There were access covers for the rear lever-arm dampers, and also the rear spring mounting bolts. Also, the gearbox dip-stick was readily accessible from the passenger compartment. The starting handle was neatly concealed
This was a 2 door saloon, and these doors were unusually wide. This gave easy access to rear seats without having to tilt the front seats. The profile of the front wings was continued into the doors, and this provided door pockets for small hand luggage. Luggage space in the boot was large compared to pre-war cars, although the trend by this time was for much more luggage accommodation. So it looks tiny by modern standards! The boot lid (bottom hinged) contained a tool kit. Under the boot was a compartment for the spare wheel accessible via a separate door. Semaphore traffic-indicators (trafficators) were mounted low down just behind the doors.
The prototype was described in "The Motor" magazine, 5th March 1947, and in "Autocar" two days later. These articles were just detailed descriptions, rather than road tests. They did take the car for brief drives and reported that it had particularly good handling, road holding, and high speed stability. Ride comfort was better than expected for a leaf-sprung car. There was also great enthusiasm for the power of the brakes, "Autocar" commented: "...the really extraordinary brake power, which is so much more effective than usual as to revive memories of the first four-wheel brakes in comparison with the rear-wheel brakes of the earliest cars".
The car was priced at £999 plus £278 purchase tax. Above that basic price, purchase tax rose substantially, so AC must have been struggling to keep the cost down to that level.
<< Page 1 ****** Page 3 >>