The AC Ace Ruddspeed (RPO 826), was unearthed in an overgrown Birmingham garden and will return to the Midlands for the event.
Following the discovery of the car in 2002, Steve Gray, proprietor of Brooklands Cars Ltd in Weybridge, began the painstaking work of restoring it. The Ace still had all of its original features, having not been modified since its racing days, but was in very poor condition.
Although it would have been easier to make a new body, he decided early on in the restoration to repair sections and preserve as much of the original body as possible. Steve applied this attention to all areas of the restoration project, looking to save as many of the original features as he could.
The car was originally ordered from AC Cars by racing driver, Ken Rudd, in 1954. Rudd was a distributor for AC and worked as their factory development engineer. It was the first AC owned personally and tuned by Rudd and he aimed to race in as many events as possible.
In its day, RPO 826 was tuned to become one of the quickest production sports cars in the UK. Fitted with the straight six AC engine from Donald Campbell's AC works prototype car and originally geared for Le Mans, RPO 826 recorded wins at several sprints and climbs, including Brighton, Goodwood, Prescott and Lydstep.
Not content with standing still, Rudd went on to make additions to the car, including adding a competition sump to the car and later introducing disc brakes. He also developed faired cowl seen on Le Mans Aces, using RPO 826 as the test car at Goodwood.
In 2004, exactly 50 years after Ken Rudd won the Goodwood Sprint in RPO 826, Steve Gray won the event in the car, reviving the early days of the Rudd Racing Team, with the advice and blessing of Rudd himself. Steve went on to win the following year too, again with Rudd’s approval.
In 2008, Rudd chose RPO 826 to represent him at the Goodwood Revival Legends and it has also competed in two Fordwater Trophies. In March 2014, Rudd even used it as a wedding car for his granddaughter.
Steve continues to care for and service the car and said: “As a Brooklands Museum exhibit, we will be gentle on the old thing over the Chateau Impney Hill Climb weekend!”
The Ace really made its mark on the hill climb scene 60 years ago, driven by Ken Rudd. We’re looking forward to seeing if it can do the same at the Chateau in July, driven by Steve.