GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1962 AC Bristol Film Shoot
Robin Grove built her career in customs brokerages importing high-end stone and tile into the United States from time to time, but her cargo also frequently included automobiles making long journeys to the United States.
Robin’s interest in cars had begun developing in her teens, but after decades of learning the ins and outs of the career she embarked on at age 18—to mention nothing of the fact that she now runs importation businesses around the world—very little time was left over to spend time with a special car of her own. One day a friend told her that this AC Bristol would be perfect for her, and the rest is history.
After her parents had handed down the family’s Chevy pickup truck to Robin when she turned 16 and got her license, and within only a month of so of driving it, traded it in for a 1964.5 Mustang. Pushed too hard one day, the engine blew in the Ford, and its replacement came in the form of a Pinto—perhaps not the same clout and cachet as the Mustang name, the Pinto was still significant in Robin’s story, seeing as it was her first car with a manual transmission.
At the customs brokerage she started out at, Robin was one of the first women to be handling the documentation in the port of LA, and quickly got used to both the ins and outs of the daily routine and the surprised and quizzical reactions of the men working in the port. She stayed with that company for 25 years, helping to build it up with plans to one day take it over. She got all her licenses while working there, learned the business, but it eventually came to a fork in the road and moved on. After a nearly decade-long stint at another import company, Robin struck out on her own and her operation soon partnered up with a UK-based company, Robin helping to bring their presence to the US. Now the team has offices in LA, New York, Dubai, Japan, and Amsterdam.
For a long time she didn’t really have a car of her own, being too busy working and worrying about the machines of others to make enough time for something special of her own. Then her friend Alfredo mentioned that he had the perfect one for her: this AC Bristol. She had no idea what it was at the time, what it had done in the SCCA, but once she started driving it she fell in love. First it was the history of the car that was most compelling, but then all the people that she met through it. The two often go hand in hand in the best of these stories.
For instance: Robin found the original US importer of the car (a racing driver named Gil), who’d brought the AC into the country in 1963, and he still had every single document pertaining to the car. Included in the files was a Polaroid photo of the car and Gil sitting next to Allen Grant and his famous yellow #96 Shelby Cobra. That led to meeting all kinds of people in the Shelby world, Allen included.
Because it was mainly used for SCCA events, her Bristol only has 6,500 original miles on it today, and it’s painted up in the same scheme that it wore back in 1966 during one of the car’s very last documented races. So far Robin’s only added 900 miles of her own, but there are plenty on the horizon. The California Mille will be the first real test of the car’s longevity, and one that Robin is very much looking forward to.