Historic Car Brands
Sydney Allard owned a garage in Putney, UK and got into motor sport in 1934, firstly in a Morgan three-wheeler and then a Ford Model A. Then, after he built a successful Ford V8-powered trials special his friends wanted replicas built.
The trials vehicles were powered by 60hp Ford ‘flathead’ V8s that came from the short-lived English Ford Pilot sedan. The beam front axles were modified Ballamy types; cut in the middle and fitted with pivot bushes, making a swing-axle layout, with traverse leaf overhead suspension – crude, but effective.
Allard Specials were curtailed by truck maintenance during WW II, but Sydney Allard had a large store of Ford parts at War’s end.
1950 Allard P-series Saloon seen at the Great West Road Run, Bristol, England. This one has the 3.9-litre Canadian-built Mercury engine. – Adrian Pingstone
Allard Motor Company kicked off production in 1946, with three models, all based on the Ford Pilot chassis: the J, competition car; the K, larger two-seater intended for road use and the L, a four-seater.
Power came from an upgraded 3.6-litre flathead V8, produced by Ford in Dagenham, with 85hp, driving though a three-speed box. The production cars initially retained the Ballamy swing-axle front end and had a standard Ford rear axle. Bodywork was aluminium sheet
As an aside, HV’s Jim Gibson had the pleasure of working on one of those when he was an apprentice.
It came into the Ford dealership in Hurstville, needing the clutch replaced. The normal procedure with Ford’s solid tail-shaft was to disconnect the rear suspension, leaving the wheels bolted on and unbolt the front of the torque tube at the rear of the gearbox.
The rear axle assembly with torque tube attached was then rolled out the back of the car and the gearbox was then unbolted from the engine to get to the clutch.
The problem, in the case of the Allard, was that once the bell-housing bolts were removed the gearbox would fouled on the chassis, making it impossible to withdraw.
The solution was to bolt everything back into place, leaving the bell-housing bolts out and then remove the engine, in order to get at the clutch – success!
The owner thought it was a good idea the give the flathead V8 a valve grind while it was out, so the next problem was to remove the two aluminium heads.
Because the heads were bolted on with steel studs and nuts, a chemical reaction between the ferrous metal studs and non-ferrous metal heads meant they had grown to: ‘love each other’.
Following two days and a weekend of soaking solution, two lumps of timber and a sledgehammer in order to belt them off – the heads were buggered, as you can imagine.
The solution was to fit a pair of standard, cast iron heads.
Of course, the best way to remove V8 Ford heads is to loosen the stud nuts; add penetrating oil; leave overnight and start the engine in the morning, giving it a bit of throttle if the heads don’t disconnect at idle.
In the case of the Allard repair, we weren’t able to do this because the bloody engine was out of the car and stripped for head removal!
Right: back to Allard history.
Demand soon led to the launch of the M, drop head coupe and the P, hard-top.
The J1 was fitted with a 3.9-litre, overhead-valve, 140hp Mercury V8.
A Cadillac-engined 1950 Allard J2, raced by Steve Schuler at the Monterey Historics, Laguna Seca, 2006. This car (chassis 1578) finished third at the 1950 Le Mans, the only Allard to ever finish at Le Mans. In 1990 this car was a pile of burnt out parts – Craig Howell.
Allard saw the potential for British-style sports cars in the USA and developed the J2 model in 1949. Initially powered by a mercury 110hp engine, the J2 featured coil-spring front suspension with telescopic dampers and a De Dion rear axle.
US-market J2s were shipped without engines and fitted with the buyers choice – most popularly Cadillac’s 5.4-litre. They were immediately successful in sports car racing and, in 1950, Tom Cole and Sydney Allard drove a J2 into third place at Le Mans.
Allard J2X Le Mans (1952) – Kevin Decherf
J2X arrived in 1952, with a more-forward engine location, allowing more cockpit room, but the racing competition had greatly improved by then, with the arrival of C- and D-Type Jaguars and Ferraris and Maseratis.
The JR arrived in 1953, with more conventional sports car bodywork and 300hp.
An Allard Palm Beach with the 2.3 litre Zephyr six, seen at Penrhyn Castle, Bangor, North Wales – Smabs Sputzer
Palm Beach was launched in 1952, to create a lower-priced alternative to the V8 models. Power came from Ford Consul or Zephyr engines – four and six cylinder. In 1956 the swing-axle suspension was replaced by a torsion bar type, but competition was fierce at that stage, from Jaguar, Triumph and MG.
The P 3.6-litre Saloon P models sold reasonably well – around 560 between 1949 and 1952. Allard and Guy Warburton won the Monte Carlo Rallye in 1952, in a P1. The P2 followed from 1952, in two-door form and as an eight-seater ‘woody’.
Unfortunately, Allard lacked the resources to remain competitive with better-financed makers and the company ceased production in 1957.