Ford was the first company to put a V8 in a mass-produced, affordable car. The 1932 Model A became the first classic hot rod, as the 1955-57 Chevy Bel-Air and 5.0 Mustangs would later on. The '32 Ford wasn't the most sophisticated car in the world, but it looked good and had a powerful engine that responded well to performance tuning. The infamous bank robber Clyde Barrow wrote a famous letter to Henry Ford complimenting the flathead V8's performance, and the Beach Boys wrote "Little Deuce Coupe."
In the Depression, though, even new Fords were expensive for most people. At that time, Mr. Jackson could be traded down the river for a running Model T. The process of hot rodding was that of simplicating and adding lightness. Hoods, fenders and anything else that would add weight or drag was removed or replaced with a "streamlined" version. Bodies were modified to sit lower on the frame rails, called "channeling," or cut apart and narrowed or shortened. If a V8 could be acquired, it replaced the four cylinder. Stripped cars were driven out to a dry lake and run against each other for top speed or acceleration, sometimes up to twelve abreast. Think of the Nissan Maxima commercial, but with no seatbelts. Drag racing has changed a lot since then, but a rendezvous of old friends to celebrate with barbecue, fire, small explosives, and all manner of internal combustion-powered mayhem at El Mirage Dry Lake hasn't lost its appeal yet.
Even trying one's hardest, it's difficult to keep anything dry in England, let alone a lake, so the astute reader might guess that the British version of grassroots motorsport was somewhat different. Trials, it was called, run for time up hill and down dale, over a twisted, rocky, rutted, muddy course. It is still done today, still with vintage cars. It was these events, as well as more conventional racing, that captured the imagination of young Sydney Allard. Just 19 years old, he began to compete with a three-wheeled Morgan in 1929. He soon added a fourth wheel to improve the vehicle's performance, and the first "Allard special" was born.
His father sold British Ford cars, so Sydney soon turned to Fords, with a 1932 four-cylinder Model BB, powered by a modified Model BB truck engine. Visiting a TT at Ards, Ireland in 1934, he bought a flathead V8-powered special from the local Ford distributor, which he raced successfully for two years. In 1936, a wrecked '35 Ford coupe fell into his hands, and he rebuilt it in under a week. The frame was shortened and lightened, and the front axle was replaced with the lighter unit from a '32 Ford.
All these changes were par for the course among U.S. hot rodders, but Sydney Allard just happened to have a Bugatti Type 51 body lying around and adapted it to his creation. The new car was a success in competition and was called the J.
Over the winter, Leslie Bellamy designed an independent front suspension, cutting the Ford axle in half and pivoting the two sides at the center. Interestingly, Colin Chapman later experimented with a swing axle IFS, also a split Ford beam, but quickly abandoned it. Eleven more cars were built on the prewar J pattern, with either flathead Ford or Lincoln Zephyr V12 power.
After the war, Sydney turned again to building cars, but far more seriously. Britain suffered from a materials shortage, having thrown every bit of metal it could find at the Germans, so proprietary Ford components were favored simply by being available. Furthermore, the Allard family had maintained British army trucks during the war, so the parts were both cheap and familiar. A dozen or so J1 racing cars were built, but for the first few years real road-going cars were more successful.
There is a strange kink in the Allard story. Sources indicate that more of the L, M and eventually P-series four-place cars were built than all the various two-seaters combined, but information on them is sparse, and the only photograph I found was a partially visible P1 parked behind a J2.
Two-seat sports cars comprised the K series. The first of these, the K1, was built from 1946 to 1949. Its chassis was similar to the prewar cars but had a 6-in.-longer wheelbase. Running gear was all Ford, with a torque tube and beam axle in the rear and the swing-axle front. Transverse leaf springs were used at both ends. Unlike the earlier cars, the frame was not simply a modified Ford unit but was constructed of rails and crossmembers stamped specially by Thomsons of Wolverton. All K1s were right-hand drive. They had a waterfall grille and separate fenders, with a wood frame supporting steel body panels. Most cars were powered by a 221 c.i.d. British-built flathead V8 having 85 or 95 bhp, though some carried the 239 c.i.d. Canadian Mercury unit, rated at 95 or 100 bhp. With the car weighing 2460 lb, acceleration would today be merely adequate. Then, however, it was quite good. Of the 151 K1s produced, some were shipped to Brazil, Argentina, Belgium and Australia. It is possible that three made it to the U.S., but the sales were transacted in England.
Sydney Allard recognized the truth behind the "Export or Die" slogan, so he visited the U.S. to determine how best to capture a share of the postwar car market. He found some ways to improve the K series and, to his surprise, discovered that there was a market for an updated J type. The K was freshened for 1950, becoming the K2. The split front axle was suspended with coils instead of leaves, and the body was redesigned, smoother and better finished. The three porthole vents on the engine compartment, a la Buick, and the pentagonal grille that were to become Allard trademarks, made their appearance on the K2 as well as the J2. Wheelbase and curb weight were unchanged, as was the transverse leaf rear suspension. Engine options were the British 221 c.i. flathead and what was called an American Mercury 239. Zora Arkus-Duntov's overhead valve conversion, developed in a New York City loft shared with Luigi Chinetti, was an option.
Speed equipment for the flatheads was readily available, but heavy import tariffs made the parts prohibitively expensive in England. To get around this, Allard simply built his own. Heads were a close copy of those sold by Eddie Edmunds, and the Allard dual carburetor intake resembled that of Eddie Meyer. Contrary to expectations, the 221 c.i.d. engine was the desirable unit, because the "Mercury" was really a 1937-38 Ford 21-stud engine. Edelbrock 24-stud heads obviously wouldn't fit, and many other details were incompatible with the standard parts. In spite of all this, American expertise with the flathead engines made the Allards fast, lightweight roadsters, with more sophisticated chassis than most U.S. offerings at the time. From 1950-52, 119 K2s were sold.
The J2 will be dealt with only briefly here. Though they were the most famous of all Allards by far, only 90 J2s were built. Untangling the web of which cars had which engines is nearly impossible. Generally, U.S.-bound cars were shipped across the ocean with no engine, and one was fitted to customer specification before, or often after, delivery. Most sources suggest the same old flathead Ford and Mercury were the base engines, but one reliable volume indicates that the standard engine for the Js was a Mercury V-8 bored to 266.8 c.i.d., with aluminum heads, rated for 120 bhp at 3800 rpm. Another source says about 75 cars were fitted with the Ardun ohv conversion, which produced 140 hp. The same source says that, though the Ardun worked well in the U.S., the Brits were unable to achieve reliability when it was tuned. In any case, the hot engines, the ones that made the J2's reputation, were the Cadillac and Chrysler, each displacing 331 c.i.d. From the factory, the Cadillac was rated 160 bhp at 3800 rpm and 312 lb-ft at 1800 rpm, while the hemi-head Chrysler was said to be good for 180 bhp at 4000 rpm and 312 lb-ft at 2000 rpm. Both were easily improved. Interestingly, the solid Ford rear axle used on other Allards had a track of 56 in., while the De Dion rear suspension of the J2 had a track of only 52 in. The result was that J2s often appeared to be "crabbing" down the road, when in fact they were running straight. The J2 was the ultimate British hot rod. Because its components were built for much heavier cars, they seldom broke, and for a few glorious years before the rest of Europe caught up, it was very difficult to beat.
For 1952, a completely redesigned K3 was released, new from the chassis up. The side rails were built up from a pair of vertically stacked chromoly tubes, welded and reinforced with steel plates. Giving a 100-in. wheelbase, this chassis was lighter and stronger than previous Allards. The K3 was a more serious touring car, with an aluminum envelope body, rather than separate clamshell fenders, and had a bench seat capable of holding three abreast. Engine options are listed as British Ford, American Mercury, the Chrysler 331, and Jaguar's dohc six. Curb weight was 2580 lb. While the J2 had to do one thing, and do it well, that being go very fast, more was expected of a serious passenger car, and the K3 failed to deliver on several counts. It had limited steering lock, resulting in a large turning circle and difficult parallel parking. The aluminum bodywork was easily dented by gravel thrown up on the road. (To be fair, was this complaint ever seriously leveled at Ferraris?) The doors didn't open wide enough, and inadequate windshield wipers were teamed with nonexistent provisions for heating and defrosting. Furthermore, while a J2 represented a Ferrari-beating bargain at around $2,100, the K3 cost roughly $5,300. A mere 61 cars were unloaded between 1952 and 1954, all but nine in the U.S.
The last significant Allard was the J2X, sold from 1952 to 1954. Basically a J2, the front radius rods were changed from leading to trailing, and the frame extended forward 6 in. to accommodate them. Wheelbase was unchanged at 100 in. The engine was also moved forward 7.5 in., adding cockpit space and improving handling. Mercury and Ford flatheads were still available, but were considered outdated by then. Most cars were ordered with the Chrysler hemi or the Cadillac, which could be tuned for up to 230 bhp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Nearly as many J2Xs, 83 to be precise, were built as were J2s, but the design had already outlived its competitiveness by the J2X's introduction.
The K3's shortcomings illustrate perfectly the difference between a street car and a race car, a difference that would plague small British manufacturers for decades. The largest Ford dealership in Britain was not a fat enough cash cow to feed the development of a real car, nor did Allard possess the facilities and human resources to carry out the necessary work. One need only follow the fortunes of Carrol Shelby's latest adventure to see that the trap has not gone away today. Sydney Allard carried on with other endeavors, not completely giving up car building until 1959, and eventually played a leading role in the establishment (if it can be said to be established) of drag racing in Britain.
In a truly strange twist of fate, a fire destroyed most of the Allard Motor Company's records on April 12, 1966, the evening of the day Sydney Allard died. Already legendary, the stories became all that there was to remember of many Allard details.
Bad-boy handsome and bad-ass fast
They weren't what you'd call pretty cars, the Allards. There were no elegant curves, no flowing lines from any designer's pen. In fact, they were about as subtle as a sledge hammer, but there was a certain muscular athleticism about them. That long, purposeful hood, vented with large side ports and restrained by wide leather straps that warned of ominous power within. Cycle fenders, shrink-wrapped aluminum bodywork, twin cowls and matching screens for driver and navigator all said speed.
And that's what Allards were all about-- power and speed. Ruggedly handsome, yes, but most of all Sydney Allard's brutes were light, tough and undeniably fast. Long before race cars became upside-down airplanes, storied names like Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Porsche ruled U.S. sports car racing, but the first foreign sports racer to truly dominate in America was the Allard J2. Well, half-foreign, anyway.
The chassis was British, but the engine was American all the way, most frequently a hopped-up Cadillac, but there was also the occasional Ardun-Ford, Corvette father Zora Arkus-Duntov's overhead-valve conversion for a flathead Ford, or Chrysler hemi. With the Caddy or Ardun-Ford, the J2 weighed only 2300 lb, and even the hefty Chrysler V8 added just 200 lb more. With that kind of muscle, particularly with the 275-300+bhp Cadillacs and hemis, the Allard J2 had an outstanding power-to-weight ratio--and explosive performance.
There was nothing fancy in the chassis department, a simple ladder frame braced with bulkheads and large tubing, fitted with Allard's quirky coil-sprung split axles in front (really, just a Ford solid axle cut in two, pivoting from the center) and at the rear a De Dion axle. This last item, at the time state of the art, was the Allard's only bit of high technology. It allowed inboard drum brakes at the rear, 12-in. al-fin drums, as were the outboard fronts. Not that it mattered much. With the big V8s, Allard brakes were usually way overmatched.
Like another famous British hotrodder, Colin Chapman, would in later years, Sydney Allard, or "the Guv'ner," as he was called, first gained recognition in the late 1930s by driving lightweight homemade specials in that most British of all forms of motor racing, trials--low-speed slogging through bogs, over obstacles and up muddy hillsides. After the war, Allard resumed his own hillclimbing and trials competition and began to make cars for others, not only trials and hillclimbing cars, but limited-production sports and touring road cars. Power for these was limited to archaic flathead Ford and Mercury V8s, which, because of stringent postwar import rules, didn't even have the benefit of U.S. hotrodder modifications.
Little wonder that Sydney Allard jumped at the chance for more power just as the prototype of his latest roadster, the J2, was making its debut. Tom Cole, a Brit who spent most of his time in America, had seen Allard's prototype run at Silverstone and proposed putting one of Cadillac's new 331 c.i.d. overhead-valve engines into a J2 for racing in the U.S. Allard quickly struck a deal with Cole, who received the first "production" J2 Allard--sans engine. In return, Cole agreed to acquire one of the new Caddys as a development engine for Allard to run in England. Allard also made an arrangement with Zora Arkus-Duntov, trading a prototype J2 chassis for one of Duntov's Ardun-Ford motors. While Allard continued to have good results in England with the new car, it was in America that the J2 would achieve its greatest successes.
Duntov's Ardun Ford-powered J2 got to the track first, in October of 1949, at Watkins Glen, but finished well back in the field. His second outing, at Palm Beach three months later, was even worse, ending when he careened off-course to become mired in the sand. Tom Cole was there, too. Ace mechanic and driver Phil Walters (a.k.a. Ted Tappet) had fitted Cole's car with a hotted-up Cadillac at Frick-Tappet Motors. Cole, known as a real charger, had problems in practice and was forced to park the Allard.
At Bridgehampton, in June, it was a different story. Two J2s ran, both Cadillac-powered--Cole's and another driven by David Wharton. Wharton's car DNF'd but Cole's silver J2 won impressively at an average of over 80 mph--pulverizing the Bridgehampton lap record in the process.
In England, Sydney Allard had campaigned the Ardun-Allard J2 with enough success to be invited to compete in the marathon around-the-island Tour of Sicily. Cole's promised Cadillac "development" engine arrived just in time and was hastily installed. Allard and navigator Tom Lush lined up to start in Palermo just before 5:00 a.m., only to be informed that the Caddy engine was too large. He could compete, he was told, but not for awards. It mattered little, as Allard's race came to a fiery end only an hour later, the result of two "offs" in the dark on unfamiliar roads and a split gas tank. Fortunately, the Cadillac engine was unharmed--and the chassis, repairable.
Sydney won a race at Goodwood with the rebuilt J2, then preparations were made to run it at Le Mans, with Tom Cole as co-driver. Cole arrived from the U.S. with a trick new twin-carburetor manifold, hand-carried with him on the plane to dodge England's import laws. After piston problems were resolved in practice, the Allard ran as high as second before losing all but top gear. Regardless, thanks to their torquey Caddy, Cole and Allard finished third overall and first in class, an outstanding result for the Guv'ner's new racer. The Allard J2 had arrived.
In America, suddenly, anyone serious about winning sports car races wanted one. Fred Wacker certainly did. Founder of the Chicago region of SCCA, Wacker would become one of the most famous American Allard drivers. One ride in Tom Cole's J2 convinced him that this was the car for him.
"The Allard went like stink," said Wacker. "And it was cheap. Back then, I didn't have much money, and I had to compete with guys like Cunningham and Kimberly and Bill Spear, who had all kinds of bucks. My Allard, the chassis, cost me around $1,500 or so. I don't remember exactly. And you could buy a new Cadillac for $585. We could get into a car that was just as fast as the Ferraris for about two or three thousand bucks compared to 12 to 15 thousand for a Ferrari."
In September of 1950, Wacker, Cole, and a wealthy New Yorker, Irwin Goldschmidt, were among six drivers who brought Cad-Allards to the streets of Watkins Glen for the largest American sports car race yet. Cole led away from the start, but Goldschmidt pressed hard, as the two J2s thundered around the Glen, broadsliding through corners and leaping over the bumps. Goldschmidt forced his way by and Cole, trying desperately to catch him, flew off course, wrecking his car. Goldschmidt won, going away, with Briggs Cunningham's Healey Silverstone second, followed by Wacker in his new J2.
In the West, Roy Richter, founder of the Bell Helmet Company, had already drawn first blood in June with a Mercury-powered J2, winning at Santa Ana, where a second Allard (Caddy-powered) was driven by Basil Panzer. Three months after, Panzer loaned his J2 out for a run up Pikes Peak by a 22-year-old Californian who would later make motor racing history. In his first and only drive in an Allard, however, future World Champion Phil Hill had his Pikes Peak run ruined by an act of nature.
"There was a rock right in the middle of the road! I tried to dodge it and slid off into a ditch," said Hill, adding, "I didn't really like the car much. It was kind of unwieldy, but it did the job with raw power."
Fred Wacker made a bit of history in the final race of 1950. Or he should have. On a seldom-used airfield in eastern Florida, Wacker and Cadillac engineer Frank Burrell defeated a field that included Ferraris, Jaguars, Aston-Martins, two more Allards and a Cadillac-Healey to finish first in America's first long-distance sports car race, the six-hour Sam Collier Memorial Sebring Grand Prix of Endurance. In fact, J2 Cad-Allards finished one-two on distance. Trouble was, that first Sebring was not scored on distance covered but by a complicated formula taking into account engine displacement. The "winner" turned out to be a 724cc Crosley Hotshot that finished 20 laps behind Wacker's Allard.
Interestingly, anticipating Jim Hall's Chaparral many years later, Wacker's J2 was fitted with a highly modified Hydramatic transmission instead of the strong but slow-shifting three-speed Ford box (with Lincoln Zephyr gears) in other Allards. The experiment was a success.
"It was great for acceleration," Wacker remembered. "We could go from a dead stop to 60 mph in four seconds. You know, cars don't do that today. We had the bands of the Hydramatic locked up tight. It didn't ease into the next gear, it went right in. Frank Burrell figured it all out. He had it fixed up so we could downshift it and use engine compression going into the turns."
In March of 1951, American racers were invited to bring their cars to Buenos Aires for a sports car race. Allards dominated. Wacker was leading until a few laps from the finish, when a spin allowed John Fitch by in Tommy Cole's borrowed--and repaired from Watkins Glen--Allard. On the strength of their performance that day, both Wacker and Fitch were invited to drive for Briggs Cunningham at Le Mans three months later.
Ironically, soon it would be the Chrysler-engined Cunninghams and increasingly larger Ferraris that would end Allard supremacy in America. In fact, in the eastern part of the U.S., an Allard would only win one more big race, when Cole won in a Chrysler-Allard over Walters' Ferrari and Goldschmidt's Cad-Allard at Bridgehamp-ton in June 1951. In the west, however, one J2 Cad-Allard would reign a bit longer.
In May, in his first ride in midget racer Tom Carsten's Cad-Allard, law student Bill Pollack won at Pebble Beach. It was to be the beginning of a remarkable streak for Pollack and the famous #14 Allard, still remembered for its bellowing Caddy, black paint job, bright red wire wheels and, of all things, white-sidewall tires. Of the latter, Carstens was fond of telling people, "They make the car go faster." Truth is, they did. In the early '50s, almost all tires were synthetic. The white-walls on Pollack's Allard were the real thing from Carsten's packing company warehouse, pure rubber tires bought earlier for his fleet of salesmen's cars.
"That made a big difference in the way the car handled," says Pollack now, "and the other thing was that Carstens had a midget and an Indy car, so he really knew how to set a car up."
Indeed, through 1952, Pollack's string of victories in Carstens' Allard, including another win at Pebble Beach, stretched to five straight. The last came in November at Madera, California. Ultimately, however, it was at Pebble Beach in '53 that the streak ended.
"Yeah, the last race that we had, Phil (Hill) was driving a 3-liter 250 MM and Bill Spear, a 4.1. Fast cars. They still didn't have the torque we had. You know, they were lookin' at a four-speed gearbox, where we're looking at a two-speed. Once you got off the ground, we never used first gear again."
Pollack thundered into the lead, followed by Bill Spear, whose 4.1, in John Fitch's hands, had bested Wacker's Allard at Palm Beach the previous December and, with Spear driving, outlasted Cole for a win at Bridgehampton before that. Hill had started further back but soon carved his way through and joined the two leaders. Then Hill got by Spear to challenge Pollack, as the three leaders pulled away.
Pollack's Allard had the advantage on acceleration, but the Ferraris could brake later and closed up at every corner. Hill probed, looking for a way through on the twisty and narrow tree-lined course, but Pollack held hold his own until, inevitably, the Allard's overworked brakes began to heat up.
"About two-thirds of the way through the race, I realized I was not going to be able to stay in front of them because my left-front wheel was locking up. They were right on my butt. I could hold them off as long as my brakes held up, but that left-front locking up was providing me with some interesting maneuvering. It was getting too hairy, so I finally waved Phil by. And I tried to hold Spear, to give Phil a shot. Then Spear got by me, too. It was just too dangerous to play that game at Pebble Beach."
Pollack held on for third. Afterwards, when the course was opened to public traffic, he took a crewman out in the J2 to demonstrate the brake problem. No sooner had Pollack gotten on the throttle when a stub axle snapped, throwing the still-accelerating car off-course and into a tree. California's famous #14 Allard was not only defeated that day but destroyed.
It was over. After a two-year period of almost total domination in American sports car racing, an Allard J2 would never win another major race, in the U.S. or anywhere else. Nor would its admittedly improved successor, the J2X--except in the hands of one soon-to-be famous American driver who would, a decade later, build his own Anglo-American hybrid.
With only several races under his belt, a chicken farmer named Carroll Shelby won the first time he ever drove a J2 Cad-Allard, on a rainslick track at Caddo Mills, Texas, in November 1952. Not far behind him in a Mercury-powered J2, until a headgasket blew, was a bespectacled young Kansan, Masten Gregory. It was Gregory's first race. His first win would come the next year in the Allard, after a Clay Smith-built Chrysler was installed.
While Gregory immediately went on to drive other cars, Shelby made his reputation in the J2 and J2X Cad-Allards, dominating the southwestern region of SCCA throughout 1953. Once that year, Shelby was doing farm work when he suddenly realized he was going to be late getting to the track in Fort Worth. Without changing out of his bib overalls, he drove like a madman to get there, grabbed a helmet and jumped into the Allard--and won. Winning a sports car race was not really newsworthy in the early '50s, but Shelby's picture, with his unique racing suit, striped bib overalls, appeared all over Texas the following day. A tradition was born.
One of his last performances in the Allard, in 1954, set the stage for Shelby's first works ride. Paired with Masten Gregory's brother-in-law, Dale Duncan, Shelby was awarded the Kimberly Cup as the highest-finishing amateur against a field of international professionals in a sports car race in Argentina. A particular incident in that race has become one of the many classic Shelby anecdotes. At some point, with fuel spitting back through the carburetors, the Allard burst into flames. With no fire extinguisher in sight, quick-thinking Duncan doused the flames by...urinating on the engine.
"Right on the main straightaway," laughs Shelby, "with 100,000 people clappin' for him! We got back in and finished 10th. I don't think but 10 cars finished, so we weren't heroes, but we won the Kimberly Cup."
Importantly, Shelby had also gotten the attention of Aston Martin's John Wyer, for whom he would drive a works Aston Martin to victory at Le Mans in 1959. Once again, racing an Allard had become a stepping stone. Amazingly, except for Dan Gurney, every one of the American-born drivers who went to Europe to seriously compete in international motor racing in the 1950s at one time or another drove an Allard. Most experienced their important early successes in their Allard drives.
That such a little-known marque could have once been so important, so absolutely dominant in American sports car racing for almost two years, is hard to imagine today, but the fact is, Sydney Allard's hotrods were, in their time, at the edge of the performance envelope. And to those who were there, Allards looked the part.
"They were the epitome," said Bill Pollack. "If you were to sit down and draw a caricature of a sports car back then, you know, an MG TC was pretty much close to what everybody thought of as a sports car, but the Allard, with the bicycle fenders and all that...boy, it was really hot."
Pretty? No way. The Cad-Allard J2 was bad-boy handsome--and like the ground-pounding pushrod V8-powered sports racers that followed in its tracks, the Cunninghams, Scarabs, Cobras, GT-40s, Chaparrals and today's Panoz-Fords, it was bad-ass fast.
Like Bulls in a China Shop
Allards at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
Some classic sports cars are perfect for gentle drives through the country. Others are most adept at delivering their occupants to the front door of a stately mansion. A few seem to be destined to sit quietly as time and the elements return them to their most elemental states. There is one manufacturer of sports cars whose machines were never meant for anything less than raising hell, and 50 years after they were built, Allards continue to do just that.
Last summer, a group of Allard owners staged one of their periodic reunions at the 2.33-mile racing circuit at Schenley Park in downtown Pittsburgh. It's an extraordinarily challenging circuit, winding through the city park and showing racing the way it was in the old days. Fire hydrants, trees, curbs and culverts are all protected by bales of hay, although protected may be too strong a word. There are numerous stone walls and cliffs to catch drivers who are overly aggressive. The course is tight and twisty with five hairpin turns, and it definitely favors small, nimble sports cars.
Clearly visible is the waterfall grille that distinguishes this Allard as a K1. Vertical bars droop over the whole nose, and the bodywork has a generally primitive, handbuilt look to it.
Clearly visible is the waterfall grille that distinguishes this Allard as a K1. Vertical b
Allards are not small, nor are they nimble. What they are is frightening. Powered by bellowing American V8 engines stuffed into a rudimentary chassis, when Allards run at Pittsburgh they remind other drivers mostly of a bull rampaging in a china shop. As ungainly as they may appear to be, what they lack in finesse they more than make up for with brutal acceleration.
The interesting thing is that so many of the rare sports cars actually show up to race. While several of the cars at Pittsburgh are obviously highly polished show cars, many have roll bars, taped headlights and competition numbers and have come to do battle with the Schenley Park circuit. The Allards run in the over 2-liter sports car category against primarily Austin Healeys, Morgans and Jaguars. It's a tough and fast group, but a total of seven K- and J-type Allards hold up the honor of the charismatic British manufacturer.
The Pittsburgh reunion weekend isn't just racing, as the Allard owners are paddocked together and have their cars on display throughout the weekend. There are even special parade laps for the American-powered cars to help highlight to spectators and vintage racing fans why Allards were such an important part of sports car racing in America in the early 1950s.