HomeCar CultureHagerty partners with Britain’s historic Ace Cafe

Hagerty partners with Britain’s historic Ace Cafe

Former home of ‘Ton-Up Boys’ motorcycle cafe racers has become automotive destination for UK enthusiasts


In the 1950s and ’60s, The Ace Cafe became well-known in England and beyond as the home of the “Ton-Up Boys,” a collection of motorcycle cafe racers. The restaurant, which was founded more than 80 years ago and was closed from 1969 until its reopening in 1997, has of late become the location for gatherings and cruise-ins for automotive enthusiasts.

Now The Ace Cafe becomes the first UK automotive destination to be officially partnered with the international branch of America-based Hagerty, the insurance/vehicle valuation/automotive lifestyle company.

“Ace Cafe becomes the first Hagerty supported automotive destination in the UK and follows the success of Hagerty Garage + Social in the US,” Hagerty said in its announcement.

“Established in 1938 on the North Circular Road surrounding London, the cafe’s proximity to Britain’s fast arterial road network, and being open 24 hours, soon attracted fast bikers, sealing its legendary status as home of the Rockers and Cafe Racers of the ‘50s and ‘60s,” Hagerty said in its news release.

“Changes in the social order, the growth of the car market at the expense of the motorcycle industry, and the expansion of the motorway network saw the Ace Cafe close in 1969, but it reopened in 1997 under the management of current owner Mark Wilsmore.

Ace Cafe, Hagerty partners with Britain’s historic Ace Cafe, ClassicCars.com Journal

“Despite its roots as a biker venue, the Ace Cafe now caters for all types of vehicle enthusiasts, from two-wheels to four, modern to classic and standard to custom. Every night, the cafe forecourt bustles with specialist gatherings, the crowds enjoying the much-loved cafe fare just as they did when it first opened over 80 years ago. 

“Ask any petrolhead if they know the Ace Cafe and the answer will always be yes, such is its importance within British automotive culture.”

The partnership with The Ace Cafe is a result, Hagerty said, of its recent partnership with Markel International Insurance Company Limited, a British insurer. Hagerty and Markel had worked together for a decade but recently entered into a formal partnership that expands Hagerty’s insurance offerings to a wider group of clients, including those with “newer collector vehicles (and to) younger drivers.”

Like Hagerty, Markel is a family-founded company, and while British, it has a US base in Richmond, Virginia.

The partnership with Markel is the second such arrangement for Hagerty in the UK, where it also works with Aviva to offer insurance products.

“Hagerty has a long-standing relationship with Markel in the US, which has allowed us to offer the most comprehensive policies to our clients and create numerous automotive-led benefits and activities,” Hagerty UK managing director Lee Mathewson, is quoted in the news release. “This partnership will allow us to bring some of the successes of our US business to our partners and policy holders here in the UK.”

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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