AC Cars is relaunching in the UK in an attempt to carve out a long-lasting niche for models based on the styling of the 1960s Cobra-lookalike musclecar. The first of the new models, the Zagato-bodied 378 GT, is making its UK debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
New funding has been found for the venture by Al Lubinsky, who owns the AC brand name, and whose previous attempts to rejuvenate the marque have been doomed to failure.
Lubinsky has licenced the manufacture of three AC models - the MkII, MkIV and a new Zagato-bodied car, which will be made by three different companies - one in the UK, one in Germany and another in South Africa.
The new car will be powered by a 437bhp 6.2-litre V8 from the Chevrolet Camaro.
The British-built MKII features a hand-beaten alloy body and original-style steel-tube frame, while the German-built MkIV features a composite body and spaceframe chassis.
The coupe-style AC 378 GT Zagato is based on the Piranha, and will be built in South Africa.
Lubinsky has set up a new holding company AC Cars (EU) Ltd for the venture, which is targetting 80 sales a year in the UK and 200 in Europe.
The holding company is domiciled in Cyprus, reviving memories of a failed venture in Malta five years ago. Lubinsky won development funding from the Maltese government to build cars on the Mediterranean island, but the venture collapsed in acrimony.
Now in an attempt to make a fresh start he has persuaded Sir Jeremy McKenzie, an AC owner and former high-ranking British army officer, to chair the new venture. "I'm aware that we need to be more professional to make AC work again, but we think it can be done," he says.
The first task is to recruit a dealer-network. A three dealer network is being targetted in the UK.