AC Cars Ltd. formerly known as Auto Carriers Ltd., is a British specialist automobile manufacturer and one of the oldest independent car makers founded in Britain. The AC 3000ME is a mid engined, 2 door sports coupe that was launched at the 1973 London Motor Show and offered for sale by AC Cars much later between 1979 and 1985.
During the 1970s, AC Managing Director, W Derek Hurlock, developed a new and smaller car. Mid-engined designs were in fashion at the time. In 1972 the prototype Diabolo was built with an Austin Maxi engine and transaxle. When the engine manufacturers decided that they needed all the E series engines to power their own models, the Diabolo project collapsed due to the lack of an engine.
Later at the 1973 London Motor Show AC showed the mid-engined ME3000 concept with the 3.0-litre Ford Essex V6 engine, which could be found in other cars such as the Capri 3000 and Reliant Scimitar of the same period. The engine was installed transversely over a custom AC-designed 5-speed gearbox. The car featured a steel chassis making extensive use of square-section steel tube, with a strong monocoque for the central portion of the body. This framework supported a fibreglass body.
Development was complete in 1976 when new Type Approval regulations were introduced. A prototype failed the 30 mph (48 km/h) crash test, and the chassis had to be redesigned. On the second attempt, the car passed. The design changes meant the AC 3000 ME was out of date by the time it reached production. The first cars (now renamed 3000ME) were delivered in 1979. AC claimed speeds of 120 mph and 0-60 mph times of 8.5 seconds, with the standing 1/4 mile in 16.3 seconds, with 138 bhp at 5,000rpm.
After just 71 cars were sold, Hurlock called a halt to production as his health was suffering and the company was struggling in the teeth of a recession. In 1984 production stopped at Thames Ditton and the car and the AC name were licenced to a new company registered as AC (Scotland) plc run by David McDonald in a new factory in Hillington, Glasgow. Here, 30 cars were built until 1985. (wikipedia, hagertyinsurance.co.uk & thepetrolstop.com)
(Photos from ruotevecchie.org, historics.co.uk & flickr.com)