By Ronan Glon
Monday, Mar 12th, 2012 @ 5:36 am
 
In the midst of the numerous big-name debuts that took place last week in Geneva, a small German company called AC took the wraps off of a new production-bound coupe designed by Italy's Zagato.

The car's overall design is not entirely new: it bowed at the 2009 edition of the Swiss show under the name Perana Z-One. Perana seems to have run into financial issues and is unable to produce the car, so the Zagato design was picked up by AC to create its first new model in over a decade.

To power the coupe, AC rummaged around the General Motors parts bin and pulled out a 6.2-liter V8 that is usually found under the long hood of a Corvette. The mill sends 439 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. That is enough power to propel the GT from zero to 62 miles per hour in less than four seconds.

The 378 GT Zagato is 173 inches long, 75 inches wide, and just 48 inches tall. It weighs 3,295 pounds; 49% of that mass lies on the front axle, and the rest is on the rear axle. In order to keep the weight down, the frame is built with steel tubes, while the body is crafted out of composite plastic.

Production of AC's new coupe is scheduled to start in South Africa later this year. It will sell for £89,990 ($141,000) in the United Kingdom, and €109,990 ($143,900) in Germany.

The 378 GT Zagato is an important car for AC because it marks the beginning of a product offensive. The brand announced that it is planning on launching several additional new models in the near future, including replicas of the Ace Bristol Zagato and the Ace-Classic. Both cars will be made in limited numbers, and should carry a base price of about £50,000 ($78,300).

"Geneva 2012 marks a new beginning for the AC brand," said General Sir Jeremy Mackenzie, the company's president. "The company has suffered from a series of false starts in recent years but at the root of those has always been the lack of a proper manufacturing base. Now, that it has entered into joint ventures with manufacturing entities with strong track records in producing cars which share the iconic AC pedigree, all that is firmly in the past."