The Allards most remembered by racing fans, particularly American sports car racing spectators, were the cycle-fendered J2 and J2-X. Who can forget one of those bellowing monsters accelerating out of a turn with hunkered-down rear end and uplifted prow, a stance brought on by the brute torque of the big American V-8 that muscled the J2 ahead of its competition. Allards weren't the most sophisticated cars on the track, and they weren't the best built, either, but they did what racing cars are supposed to do -- win races.
Not only did the Allards win, they were also relatively inexpensive to buy and to maintain. The first was due to the many proprietary parts being used, the second because the Allards were relatively simple as race cars go. Any California hot rodder in the early Fifties would have recognized most of the components, and could easily have maintained or repaired one-indeed some did. Said California hot rodder would also have found a kindred soul in Sydney Allard, creator of the cars that bore his name.
It all started in 1929, when 19-year-old Allard was racing a three-wheeled Morgan Super Sports at Brooklands, with little success. Allard added a second wheel to the rear to create the first 'Allard Special" (though it wasn't called that). Some time after that came Allard's first connection with Ford. In 1932, he bought a new four-cylinder Model B and installed a highly modified Ford truck BB engine into its chassis. That car went so well that Allard began thinking of what he might be able to do with one of the new Ford V-8 engines, particularly if it were mounted in a strong, lightweight frame.
As if by magic, Allard's attendance at the 1934 Tourist Trophy, in Ards, Ireland, brought him just the vehicle he'd been looking for. The Ards area Ford distributor, it turned out, had arrived at the race with two shiny new specials -- complete with the Ford flathead V-8. Allard bought one without a second thought. For two seasons he campaigned that car in races, rallies, hillclimbs, and even at that great British institution, the mud trials. Success in somebody else's car wasn't enough for Allard, however, for he wanted to build one of his own.
The opportunity presented itself in 1936, when Allard discovered a wrecked 1935 Ford V-8 coupe not too far from his shop in the London suburb of Putney. He towed the wreck home on a Friday, started dismantling and rebuilding it on Monday, and by the following Saturday had the first Allard Special (to carry the name) running. The frame had been shortened, significantly lightened, and fitted with a 1932 Ford front end, which weighed less than the 1935 assembly. For a body Allard used the ex-Lord Howe Type 51 Bugatti body, complete with its pointed tail!
Cynics winced at this sacrilege, but the Allard Special came up a winner. During the winter hiatus between racing seasons, suspension engineer Leslie Bellamy designed the now infamous split I-beam front axle, thereby creating an independent front suspension that was to become an Allard trademark. As one observer put it, "Allard's five-day marvel appeared for its second season with a predisposition for flapping its front wheels on a rough surface like a duck with loose wings."
For more information on the 1949-1954 Allard continue on to the next page.
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