HomeThe MarketMid-engine Cobra? No, but AC 3000 ME heads to auction

Mid-engine Cobra? No, but AC 3000 ME heads to auction


We tend to think of AC Cars as the source of the sports cars that Carroll Shelby transformed into the Cobra, but the Weller brothers who founded the company built their first car in 1902. 

In 1973, AC unveiled its 3000 ME prototype (or ME3000 if you prefer) at the Earls Court Motor Show as a British equivalent of the Lancia Stratos, a sports car that became very successful in rallying. Like the Stratos, the 3000 ME had a wedge-shape, fiberglass bodywork and a mid-mounted V6 engine. The show car used a 3.0-liter Ford engine linked to AC’s own 5-speed transmission.

Issues during the prototype’s development and the government’s hesitancy to grant “Type Approval” meant that production didn’t begin until 1979, and between then and 1984 only 68 cars were built alongside the 8 prototypes produced during the development process.

One of those prototypes, a bright-red MKII, is being offered for sale May 1 when H&H Classics stages an online auction.

Mid-engine, Mid-engine Cobra? No, but AC 3000 ME heads to auction, ClassicCars.com Journal

“A fascinating glimpse into what might have been, this historic and unique AC is offered for sale with V5C Registration Document, history file and its initial Alfa Romeo 2,500cc V6,” said H&H Classics’ Damian Jones.

“Riding on fresh tires and sporting a bespoke stainless-steel exhaust system, ‘VPC 634X’ is said to ‘have plenty of performance and to sound like an Italian thoroughbred’,” he added.

H&H Classics reports that the engine provides 138 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque for a car that weighs less than 2,400 pounds, “reputedly capable of 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds and over 120mph,” the auction house notes.

“For many,” H&H Classics adds, “the last true AC — and certainly the final model in which the Hurlock family had a hand — the 3000ME has long been collectible.”

Brothers William and Charles Hurlock bought A.C. during the Depression, primarily to acquire its facilities to use for storage for their trucking company, but also resuming car production in the early 1930s.

Mid-engine, Mid-engine Cobra? No, but AC 3000 ME heads to auction, ClassicCars.com Journal

Mid-engine, Mid-engine Cobra? No, but AC 3000 ME heads to auction, ClassicCars.com Journal
The cockpit

“This particular example — chassis 129,” H&H Classics said of the sports car on offer, “ is unique among the total production run in having been actively involved in both eras of the (ME3000) story. Originally the Thames Ditton factory demonstrator, it was adopted for a time by AC’s managing director Andrew Hurlock for his personal use, and was therefore still on the company’s books when the project relocated to Scotland (where production moved in 1984.”

H&H Classics anticipates the car will sell for £18,000 to £22,000 ($23,500 to $28,700) at the online auction. 

For more information, visit the H&H Classics website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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