Established in 1908, AC is the second oldest British car manufacturer that is still making vehicles today. The AC name came from the name of their first commercial 3-wheeler; The Auto carrier; that was designed and manufactured by John Weller. He previously had his own business in South London (UK) in 1903 making the Weller car but this was not a great success.
The Auto carrier was built as a small delivery van and became very successful. It was also very fashionable the time for companies to have at least one Auto carrier as a delivery van. ln 1908 a new a passenger version that was called the AC Sociable was introduced. The name came from the fact that the passenger and driver’s seat were side by side and not in a tandem design as with many other 3-wheelers at the time and it was also the first time that the initials AC were used. The British Army also used AC Sociables due to their reliability and they were fitted with customised bodywork that acted as machine gun carriers.
During the First World War AC continued to produce vehicles as well as shells and fuses. By 1919 they were back in full car production again. The new Models were now produced with 10 and 12 hp engines and were later replaced by a six-cylinder 16hp model. For the next few years AC turned to producing 4-wheeled vehicles and did not produce another 3-wheeler until 1953 with the AC Petite. The Petite was powered by a 346cc single cylinder two-stroke Villiers engine and had an aluminium body fastened to a light steel frame. The cars however were not a great success. Despite their price of £400 the car looked like the government-sponsored invalid cars that AC also made (see Invacar) and so the Petite were not widely accepted. Production continued until 1958, though AC continued to make invalid cars until the early 1970’s when AC then concentrated on just 4-wheelers again.