Despite a modern design an a favourable press reception, it wis launched in the wake o a massive oil price surge an development wis delayed bi supplier problems. It wis na a commercial success.
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The 1970s were not a good period for luxury car manufacturers and AC Managing Director W Derek Hurlock went searching for a totally new smaller car. Mid-engined designs were in fashion at the time and in 1972 the Diabolo, a prototype with an Austin Maxi engine and transaxle was built by privateers Peter Bohanna and Robin Stables. However, following considerable investment in development using the BLMC power unit and transmission, the engine manufacturers decided that they needed all the E series engines they could make to power their own Maxi and Allegro models, so the Diabolo project appeared likely to collapse for lack of an engine.
The caur featured a steel chassis making extensive uise o square-section steel tube, with a strong monocoque for the central portion o the body. This framework supported a glass fibre body.
In much the same way as they haed taken up the Tojeiro prototype an turned it intae the Ace, AC acquired the rights an at the 1973 Lunnon Motor Show showed their awn version, the mid-engined ME3000 with the 3.0-litre Ford Essex V6 engine installed transversely over a bespoke AC-designed gearbox. Press releases o the time indicated that the company hoped tae be able tae build an sell the cuar at the rate o 10 - 20 caurs per week, although it wis at this stage apparent that the model wis in mony ways na yet ready for serial production.
Development wis virtually complete in 1976 when new Type Approval regulations wur introduced. A prototype failed the 30 mph (48 km/h) crash test, an the chassis haed tae be redesigned. On the seicont attempt, the caur passed with flying colours. This wis a huge achievement for a tiny firm - Vauxhall haed tae make several attempts before the contemporary Chevette passed.
For AC, such delays meant that the first production caurs (now renamed 3000ME) wur na delivered until 1979, bi which time they wur in direct competition with the Lotus Esprit. Although comfortable, brisk, nicely built an practical, AC's ambitions o selling 250 caurs per year wur a distant memory.
Efter just 71 caurs were sold, Hurlock called a halt tae production as his health wis suffering an the company wis struggling in the teeth o a recession. In 1984 production stopped at Thames Ditton an the caur and the AC name wur licenced tae a new company registered as AC (Scotland) plc run bi David McDonald in a new factory in Hillington, Glasgow. Here, 30 caurs wur built, including a development caur tested with Alfa Romeo's 2.5-litre V6 engine an a nearly-complete Mark 2 prototype o the same. Regardless (or possibly because) o these developments, AC Scotland called in the receivers in 1985.
1982 AC Ghia
In 1982 Ghia made concept caur based on AC 3000ME mechanicals called AC Ghia, it wis compact for its size 3 feet 10 inches (1.17 m) high an under 5 feet (1.5 m) wide.
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