Model history: In the second half of the 1930s Sydney Herbert Allard quickly made a name for himself in British Trials and Hillclimbs with his Allard Specials. Operating from the Adlards Motors garage (this is no spelling error) he bought earlier in 1929, Allard mounted an assault on international motor racing that culminated in a third place finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and an overall victory in the Monte Carlo rally. After racing motorcycles, he gradually moved to four wheels, driving a three wheeled Morgan in between. In 1936 the first 'Allard Special' made its debut.
Adlards Motors was an official Ford dealer, so it was only logical that Allard based his first cars on Ford products. The first Allard Special, commonly referred to as CLK 5 because of its registration number, combined a Ford Model 40 chassis and engine with a Bugatti Type 51 body. Its light weight and considerable ground clearance made it an ideal Trials racer. By moving the cockpit as far backwards as possible, the weight was concentrated over the rear wheels, a design principle found on all future Allard models. Ford's flat-head V8 provided plenty of torque to turn Allard's first Special in an immediate winner.
Allard's many successes in CLK 5 created a big interest in a production version of the Special. Up until the outbreak of the War a small number of Allard Specials were constructed, powered by either the Ford V8 or the related Lincoln V12. These could hardly be considered production cars and it was not until immediately after the War that the first Allard production cars were constructed. Nevertheless the Specials proved to be highly successful in various races. The only weak point were the overheating problems at high speeds, caused by the manifold design of the flat-head engine.
During the War Adlards Motors repaired damaged military vehicles with great care and precision. Despite 12 hour workdays, Sydney Allard found time to design a new sportscar, which he planned to produce as soon as the War would end. The first real Allard was ready in 1946 and is now commonly referred to as the J1. Ford bits and pieces again formed the basis of the Allard. A sturdy braced and boxed frame hosted a 3.6 litre V8 and 3-speed gearbox. Suspension was by a split axle at the front and live axle at the rear, both employing a transverse leaf spring. A full width body was fitted, but the wings could be quickly removed and replaced by cycle fenders to turn the J1 in a proper Trials car.
Allard's reputation garnered in the pre-War years ensured plenty of publicity for his new car. In total twelve J1s were constructed and competed all over Britain and in Europe. One of the biggest drawbacks of the J1 was the flat-head V8, which was underpowered and continued to cause overheating problems. Some of the customers improved the car's performance by installing a Supercharger. Quickly after the J1, Allard introduced the more civil K1 sports two seater, L-Type Tourer and M-Type coupe models. These were constructed in a much larger number and supplied the company with enough financial means to continue developing racing cars.
In 1950 a new competition Allard was introduced; the J2. Although it carried over the general design of the J1, the new car was a big step forwards. The front suspension was similar in design, but the transverse leaf spring was replaced by coils. At the rear a DeDion axle was installed and the drums were moved inboard. Weight concentration over the rear wheels was again one of the priorities, which was achieved by moving the engine as far back in the chassis as possible. Although a highly modified Ford sidevalve V8 was Allard's engine of choice, the chassis allowed for a number of American engines to be fitted. Especially equipped with Cadillac's pushrod V8, the J2 was in a league of its own.
Allard's biggest road racing success came in 1950, when Sydney Allard and Tom Cole drove a Cadillac powered J2 to a third place overall and a first in class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In 1951 a slightly modified version, dubbed J2X was introduced. It was very similar to the J2, but the engine was installed further forward in the chassis to allow for a larger cockpit. Chrysler HEMI and Cadillac powered J2s and J2Xs dominated racing in America. The final evolutions of the J2 were the J2X Le Mans and JR, which both featured a fully enveloping body.
After 1908 Allards were constructed, production finally ceased in 1959. The ever increasing competition from the likes of Jaguar proved too much for the small company. Its small size makes the many victories in road races, rallies, hill climbs and trials quite exceptional.
Chassis: J2X 3155
Featured is J2X 3155, a freshly restored Le Mans bodied J2X. It is seen here at the 2005 Palm Beach International, a Concours d'Elegance, where it won a best in class award.