Once owned by Colonel John Nicholas Blashford-Snell CBE, British Army officer, explorer and author who founded Operation Raleigh, this lovely 1961 AC Greyhound is one of only 83 such vehicles produced. It is now offered for sale by H&H Classics on March 16th at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
The AC has spent most of its life in the hands of just two families with the vendor’s father acquiring it in 1967. The Greyhound also boasts the much desired 2.2 Bristol straight six engine.
According to its original buff logbook, chassis BEF2538 was first registered as ‘RJT 999’ by Dorset County Council on April 13th 1961. Finished in Silver with Red leather upholstery – the same colour scheme it pleasingly sports today – the AC was supplied new to Colonel George Gould DSO of Upwey whose family were prominent local landowners. Bought by Alderman the Reverend Leland John Blashford-Snell MBE, Prebendary of Hereford Cathedral during 1963, it then passed to his son Captain John Nicholas Blashford-Snell whilst the latter was attending RMA Sandhurst. Subsequently promoted to Colonel and better known for his exploits as an explorer and the founder of Operation Raleigh, the younger Blashford-Snell sold the Greyhound to Geoffrey Philip Wyle Esq in April 1967. During the same year the vehicle was then purchased by the vendor’s father, Richard Thomas Seymour after returning from a short spell living in Australia, following a cash deal in The Eagle Public House car park in Norwich. The 2+2-seater has thus belonged to just two families for most of its life. Initially used for family holidays to Devon, the AC was spared commuting duties by a succession of motorcycles and effectively taken off the road after a house move in 1972. Started regularly and exercised on the driveway thereafter, an acrimonious divorce during 1980 saw ‘RJT 999’ relocate to Brighton and then Somerset. Re-registered with the DVLA in 1999 (having fallen off their system), the Greyhound was acquired by the vendor from her late father’s estate during 2015.
She has kindly provided the following information concerning this period: “The AC was found with all its spare parts, oil and a large sign on the steering wheel stating 'No Water!' It had a false set of number plates so that anyone driving past when the garage door was raised couldn't identify ‘RJT 999’. I have in my possession a meticulous record of monthly start-ups in the garage, the Greyhound being run for 10 mins at a maximum of 3000rpm. The last recorded entry was November 2014, the month before my father died. There is no doubt in my mind that the Greyhound was never really driven after the divorce (there was no evidence in his meticulous record keeping of previous MOT, tax or insurance records). The car was garaged, covered and had its own central heating radiator in the garage.”
Due to a house move to France the four-seater is now being reluctantly offered for sale. Invoices on file detail an amount of recommissioning including attention to the engine, brakes, ignition, cooling system, overdrive and steering etc not to mention a gearbox overhaul. Starting readily and running well during our recent photography session, the AC retains its original interior complete with ‘sunburst’ pattern door cards (long a marque feature) and gently patinated leather. The Silver paintwork is highly presentable save for a few minor blemishes. Riding on BRG painted wire wheels and believed but not warranted to have covered just 37,000 miles from new, this decidedly handsome Greyhound comes with its original buff logbook, current V5C Registration Document, sundry paperwork and assorted recommissioning bills. Also included in the sale are a spare set of spoked wheels and a brand new rear screen.
Introduced at the 1959 London Motor Show, the AC Greyhound was closer in price at £3,185 to an Aston Martin DB4 than a Jaguar XK150. Considerably rarer than either, just eighty-three were hand built before production ceased in 1963. A 2+2-seater featuring a tubular steel chassis, aluminium bodywork, all-round independent coil-sprung suspension, front disc brakes and rack and pinion steering, most examples were powered by Bristol straight-six engines (in either 2 litre or 2.2 litre guises) allied to four-speed manual transmission with optional overdrive. Concerns over future engine supply and the demands of the Shelby Cobra contract gave AC little choice but to shelve the Greyhound before its true potential could be realised.