In many ways the Seventies were unkind to performance cars through no fault of their own, the poor things, because there was an oil crisis going on. It didn’t get any easier right until end of the decade and the ’79 Iranian Revolution. The humble hot hatchback was born purely as a side effect, recession on four wheels, downsizing.
The Corvette made 160 horsepower. It was the Dark Ages.
And yet supercars somehow flourished, because the one-percenters, bless ’em, tend to dampen their stock market woes with indulgences, like shiny, fast, red things. While the volume market focused on compacts and economy cars, and muscle cars died, supercars kept getting wilder and wilder, and the Seventies gave the world the Countach and the 911 Turbo. Nobody told them there was any fuel rationing going on.
And anyway, we never said the Seventies were good to every supercar. Take the AC 3000ME as an example. This was the perfect car for the perfect time; a mid-engined machine with a modern V6 right in tune with the trends. And launched just in time for the oil crisis the AC would’ve made great sense for anyone steering away from gas guzzlers. After all it was just a regular off-the-shelf Ford Essex 3.0-litre V6 back there, so anyone could work on it. And yet it bombed.
The fibreglass-bodied AC 3000ME cost as much as a V8-engined Ferrari in the late Seventies, and a Lotus Esprit was about 25 per cent cheaper. If you stretched your wallet just a little you could’ve bought a brand-new Porsche 911 Turbo back then so the AC was swimming against the current. Only around 100 cars were ever built and AC never even got close to its goal of selling 250 3000MEs.
However, the good news is that most of them survive in good hands owned by AC enthusiasts. Examples rarely come up for sale but when they do, a good one is about Dh75,000, which is far less than any of the AC’s contemporary rivals would go for.
The three-part steel chassis is more prone to rust and barring a $5,000 transmission (designed by AC with Hewland internals) everything else is actually pretty simple.