Friday Night at the Ace Cafe

The legendary Ace Cafe located in north-west London, is a prime destination for any motorhead.

A recent Friday night’s Street Fighter event consisted of mayhem run amok. Bicyclists whose front tire never touched the pavement. Cyclists burning clutches and rear tires, filling the air with thick clouds of blue-white smoke. Even the odd four-wheeler squirting, sliding, brushing hapless spectators to the curb. Built in 1938, bombed in ’40, restored with national funds after the war, this was where the epic Mods versus Rockers battles raged in the 1960s. The Ace became a tire and battery repair shop in the seventies and closed in the eighties. About a decade ago, the place rose from rubble in near-original form and has been a magnetic motor hangout ever since for car clubs, press meetings, rowdy bikers, and everyone else seeking a good time with a draft beverage. Mark Wilsmore bought this treasure three years ago and diligently continues the tradition of bad food, good beer, and unforgettable street performances. On a good night the place fills by 7pm and thrives to midnight. The enforcement agencies leave well enough alone and the mail trucks and public buses some how muddle past. During our visit, a portable dynamometer held a contest to see who could break the 200 hp mark for two wheelers. The wise tourist puts the Ace at the top of every London destinations list even if that means missing Big Ben and (the new) London Bridge.

Words and Photos by Martyn Goddard