Rare Rides: The Beautiful 1969 AC Frua Cabriolet

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the beautiful 1969 ac frua cabriolet

Today’s Rare Ride was in production for nine years, but never reached triple-digit figures in its sales.

Let’s check out this hand-crafted British beauty.

AC is one of the oldest living independent British car firms and traces its roots back to London in 1901. Originally known as Auto Carriers, Ltd., the company has gone through too many liquidations and reorganizations to count. Always a specialty car maker, AC built mostly three-wheelers and luxurious sports coupes and is most notable for its collaboration with Carroll Shelby to develop the AC Cobra.

The Mark III version of the Cobra ended its production in 1967, but by that time AC had morphed it into a new sports luxury coupe of its own. With a long, flowing body designed by Pietro Frua, the AC Frua (also called AC 427 and AC 428) debuted in 1965.

Designed on a very tight budget, the new body rode on an AC Cobra chassis that was extended by six inches. The chassis was assembled by AC and then shipped to Frua in Italy where the hand-built bodies were fitted. Mostly made of steel, hoods and trunk lids were aluminum. The conjoined body and chassis went back to England, where AC installed the interior and mechanicals.

Said mechanicals included a 428 cubic-inch Ford V8, paired to a three-speed auto or four-speed manual transmission. Unlike other low-volume coachbuilt coupes of the period, the AC had an independent, racing-developed coil spring suspension. Also similar to its competitors, the Frua was a bit half-baked in its design. The huge engine up front tended to send its heat seeping into the cabin, making for warm drives all the time.

With its considerable grunt, the Frua mixed luxury company with cars from Monteverdi and De Tomaso, but performed more like a Ferrari or Lamborghini. And like those latter Italians, the AC Frua was very expensive: Circa 1965 it was twice the price of a 4.2-equipped Jaguar E-type.

The price and hand-built nature meant few customers were found for AC’s Frua. It didn’t have the legacy name to compete with the established Italians, and other low-volume cars were better made. As a result, when production ended in 1973 just 81 had been completed. Of those, 49 were coupes, 29 convertibles, and 3 wore one-off bodies. The Frua was AC’s last car for some time, as production of the 3000ME didn’t start until 1979.

Today’s Rare Ride is a beautiful teal cabriolet from 1969. With automatic and right-hand drive, it’s priced in the UK upon request.

[Image: AC]

Comments
Join the conversation
 2 comments
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jan 28, 2021

    "The chassis was assembled by AC and then shipped to Frua in Italy where the hand-built bodies were fitted... The conjoined body and chassis went back to England, where AC installed the interior and mechanicals." Lesson from history: If your body assembly process crosses international borders, you are going to have some inefficiencies. (Ideally, try to keep it within one building.) A more recent example: https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/1987-93-cadillac-allante

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 30, 2021

      I love the fact that at one point in their history, GM had the stones to build the Allante. These cars sum up most of what I both like and hate about GM in one car. Great design, the guts to bring it to market, but let down by the materials they were shoving into cars at the time and until they got the Northstar (its own issues, but you wouldn't have known those yet if buying this new), a lackluster powertrain. Still, I've always had a wierd soft spot for them.

  • Fahrvergnugen NA Miata goes topless as long as roads are dry and heater is running, windscreen in place.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic As a side note, have you looked at a Consumers Report lately? In the past, they would compare 3 or 4 station wagons, or compact SUVs, or sedans per edition. Now, auto reporting is reduced to a report on one single vehicle in the entire edition. I guess CR realized that cars are not as important as they once were.
  • Fred Private equity is only concerned with making money. Not in content. The only way to deal with it, is to choose your sites wisely. Even that doesn't work out. Just look at AM/FM radio for a failing business model that is dominated by a few large corporations.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Lots of dynamics here:[list][*]people are creatures of habit, they will stick with one or two web sites, one or two magazines, etc; and will only look at something different if recommended by others[/*][*]Generation Y & Z is not "car crazy" like Baby Boomers. We saw a car as freedom and still do. Today, most youth text or face call, and are focused on their cell phone. Some don't even leave the house with virtual learning[/*][*]New car/truck introductions are passé; COVID knocked a hole in car shows; spectacular vehicle introductions are history.[/*][*]I was in the market for a replacement vehicle, but got scared off by the current used and new prices. I'll wait another 12 to 18 months. By that time, the car I was interested in will be obsolete or no longer available. Therefore, no reason to research till the market calms down. [/*][*]the number of auto related web sites has ballooned in the last 10 to 15 years. However, there are a diminishing number of taps on their servers as the Baby Boomers and Gen X fall off the radar scope. [/*][/list]Based on the above, the whole auto publishing industry (magazine, web sites, catalogs, brochures, etc) is taking a hit. The loss of editors and writers is apparent in all of publishing. This is structural, no way around it.
  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
Next