Lesser spotted AC 3000ME Turbo for sale

by Nik Berg
7 March 2022 2 min read
Lesser spotted AC 3000ME Turbo for sale
Photos: Bonhams

When it comes to obscure British sports cars, the lesser-spotted AC 3000ME is right up there in any spotter’s guide. Which makes the auction of a low-mileage example with some surprising engineering enhancements, at Bonhams’ Goodwood sale in April, all the more noteworthy.

Few will know of the AC 3000ME, fewer still will have seen one on the road. Only around 100 were built at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s, based on an original idea from an engineer who’d worked on the Ford GT40. Peter Bohanna, and his race mechanic partner Robin Stables actually began working on the car a decade earlier, fitting a glass-fibre body over a tubular steel chassis and installing a 1.5-litre engine from an Austin Maxi amidships. Their prototype was displayed at the 1973 Olympia Racing Car Show where it caught the eye of Keith Judd, AC Cars’ Sales Manager.

Once under AC the car was developed further, with changes to the chassis design, and most importantly, to the power unit. Out went the weedy Maxi motor and in came a 3-litre Ford Essex V6. AC built less than 80 examples from 1979 to 1984, then sold the rights to a Scottish firm which assembled another 30 cars, before it closed down in 1985.

The car for sale at Bonhams’ April auction is a 1980 model which was turbocharged to more than 200bhp. The conversion was developed by Silverstone-based Robin Rew’s Rooster Turbos. In standard trim the Ford Essex V6 produced a maximum of 138bhp. Sports Car Monthly magazine tested a Rew-turbocharged 3000ME back in the 1980s, and came away impressed: ‘A short burst of acceleration through a couple of sweeping curves showed us that this car had finally learned some manners. It behaves just like a low, mid-engined sports car should. The turbo installation is excellent. There is no appreciable throttle lag… and plenty of torque low down, with a steady surge of power to the upper rev limits…’

The car’s history is well documented, for the simple reason that it is being sold by only its second owner in its 42-year history. It has 47,935 miles on the clock and is estimated to sell for £12,000 to £15,000, which is competitive when compared with the Hagerty Price Guide values for a standard model.

Pitched against the even more wedgy Giugiaro-designed Lotus Esprit, the 3000ME failed to win over enough followers at the time. But if you’re a fan of heroic failures then this rare opportunity presents an unusual car that would prove a talking point at any cars and coffee morning.

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  • Nigel Miller says:

    Wonderful pictures, of a wonderful car! If only my eyesight was still sharp enough for driving, I would HAVE to have this car! Should have SHOWN front boot!

  • Clive Kennedy says:

    I’d love to have it but I’m in Australia. Have loved these cars since first seeing one on 1982.

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