More To This Snake Than Meets The Eye

 

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You can’t ask for a tougher photographic challenge at a car show than a silver or white car out in full sunshine. Whatever you do, something is going to flare out – and sometimes this combines with underexposed shadows and colour shifts as well.

I was therefore delighted when the files of the AC A98 coupe came out as well as they did. A polished silver body is a little easier than a painted silver as the shiny paint tends to make more contrasts.

This car is a reproduction of a one-off coupe made by AC cars for the 1964 Lemans race. A tragic race as it happened- the car was involved in crash that killed three people. The AC company retired the original and kept it under wraps for a long while – only restoring it and returning it to the show circuit when some of the sadness had passed. A Western Australian enthusiast decided to build a replica.

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Well, it’s metal – you can tell that right off. The body must have taken some pretty sophisticated forming to get to the smooth curves that exist – they is possibly more to to before painting could be done. The original looks to be a metallic green colour with suitable racing roundels and stripes – the owner of this one may not want to go as far s that with the tribute. The whole project is a celebration of determination and hard work.

As far as the design goes, I am restricted to what I can see from the outside – the engine was not shown. It was so low to the ground that I did not think I could get down to peer under it, though I was tempted. At least the cockpit was open and some of the odd details could be seen.

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Odd? Well look at the way the tachometer goes – counterclockwise.I’m sure there is a reason for this but it seems strange. Do you recognise the air vent bezels on the dash? If you are a 60’s Ford person you do…

Do you approve of the tail lights and front a rear traffic indicators? They are undoubtedly authentic for the period – I remember seeing similar ones in Atkins Carlysle in Hay Street at the time and on the front and rear of many buses and trucks since. Bolting them on undoubtedly saved the designers valuable time that was better spent on the giant rear spoiler. At least this car could go fast enough to need the thing – modern rice-powered sedans sport them as pure fashion.

DSCF0033Likewise the oil cooler slot in the bonnet. I daresay the oriental designers would add these to their cars if they could persuade the buyers that they were prestigious enough.

I like the design – it goes about 180 miles an hour while still parked- but I am nonplussed about the eyebrow fairings over the wheel arches. these are an authentic echo of the same thing on the original car, and resemble similar flairs over Mercedes arches. It has been suggested that they shed water. It has also been suggested that they pad out the arch to allow a wider tyre to be legally raced. I just find it strange that a one-off car should need them when a wider wing design could as easily be formed in the original sheet metal.

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Whatever – the car is magnificent. If it has anything like the same engine power as the original it should be dangerous. Brave man to drive it to the show and home again on the roads.

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