The Essex Coupe

The following story comes to us from Alan London, who's father worked at the Essex Aero Ltd., builders of a very unique Allard Special. After that is a brief story about the Essex Coupe from an old AOC newsletter and finally a note from a previous owner.

One Jag or Two?

That’s a question I’ve recently posed, in person and by email, to folks on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps surprisingly, especially to us Jag-nuts, the responses have leaned predominantly toward the side of: ‘TWO’!

True, the two cars do indeed share the sleek, classical lines indicative of the early nineteen-fifties, but there, the similarities end. Behind the question lies a story, in the main untold – so without further ado, let’s travel back through several decades, to the mid nineteen-thirties.

Essex Aero Ltd, was founded by Reginald (Jack) Cross, with the assistance of my father Lionel (Jack) London.

In 1937 their firm, which in the early years specialized in the manufacture/repair/modification of aircraft components, relocated from Marylands Aerodrome, Romford, Essex (hence the company’s name) to the Gravesend Airport in Kent, when the Percival Aircraft company vacated the premises.

In their new location, Essex Aero was responsible for servicing local, private aircraft, plus those operated by the airport-based Flying Training School. In addition, it began experimenting with Magnesium Alloy and utilized the metal in some of their products. The opening in 1938 of the Royal Air Force Elementary Reserve Flying Training School provided the company with additional maintenance assignments.

With World War Two looming, the airport was sequestered in 1939 by the Air Ministry, and designated a satellite station of RAF Biggin Hill, which had been assigned the task of defending London and the South East. Gravesend’s proximity to the English Channel made the airfield an ideal candidate for Biggin Hill support.

During the Battle of Britain period, the airport was home to squadrons of Blenheims, Spitfires, and Hurricanes, which were serviced by Essex Aero, and repaired as necessary, on mission return.

Throughout the years of conflict, my father’s company, in tandem with its war-service, continued to hone its knowledge of Magnesium Alloy. So much so that on conclusion of the war, when the Allied countries created a ‘team’ to compile not only the ‘lessons learned’, but to also examine German technological advancements. Essex Aero were asked to represent the Magnesium Alloy community at the team’s subsequent conferences/conventions. The company had swiftly established a reputation as a world-wide leader in M.A. technology, with its representatives frequently being invited to deliver lectures on the subject.

Although still contracted to the Air Ministry, the post-war years saw Essex Aero rapidly expand its workforce and its range of business, moving into the commercial world. It began producing a variety of M.A. items such as lightweight hospital beds, fold-up chairs, and soft drink, beer, and milk crates.

Their star truly shone, as was evidenced by the giant Essex Aero four-point star, fabricated solely from Magnesium Alloy. Captured in the beams of three powerful spotlights, the star was suspended over London’s Northumberland Street, and became a focal point of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebrations.

In 1952 Essex Aero designed and manufactured an all Magnesium Alloy-bodied Allard sports coupe. The body panels, each hand-formed, were welded together into a single-piece configuration. A standard Allard J2X chassis was lengthened to accommodate the sleek body; a shell so light, that, at a weight of around 140-pounds, it could be held aloft (at the point of center-of-gravity) in its entirety by a single man, and also, from each end, by two ladies – as is shown below in the photographs that were extracted from the Essex Aero archives.

Attached by a mere six silent-block rubber mounting points, the body could be swiftly removed as one-piece, thereby exposing and providing access to the principal mechanical components for any necessary maintenance or repairs.

‘Dad’s Allard’ was powered by a 3,917 cc. Mercury V8 engine with a compression ratio of 8.1. Top speed was a reported 135 mph. The car featured a four-speed electric, pre-selector Cotal (French) gearbox, and thus no clutch was necessary. In line with company traditions, this beautiful, stylish machine was unflatteringly named: ‘MAGBODY’!

My father’s friend and senior partner, Managing Director Jack Cross, whom both mum and dad would affectionately refer to as ‘the old man’, was the driver behind the project. Both he and my father shared a passionate belief that magnesium alloy would, given time, prove to be a far superior material than the fast-approaching soon-to-be rival, gaggle of plastics! Jack Cross was also the driver (and proud owner) behind the wheel of this truly unique vehicle which, incidentally, Sydney Allard, the founder of Allard Motor Cars, had taken an interest in, keenly following its progress from conception to completion. Jack could be frequently spotted buzzing around Kent’s narrow country lanes in his...  new ‘baby’!

Sadly, in early 1956, Martin’s Bank (later Barclays’s) placed Essex Aero into Receivership. All assets were swiftly disposed of, including the one-of-kind Allard, which was literally stolen for a mere 350 British pounds!!! Our family, with much-depleted belongings in tow, relocated, and alas, subsequent communications between Jack and Jack were reduced to mere telephone conversations.

And so the car just kind of fell off the London’s landscape. But despite all, my father, who lived to just shy of one-hundred, never let up on his life-long love affair with that Allard, and also never ceased, most-like because of his son’s Jag-affections, to prod and insist that ‘the car that the two Jacks built’, in both of their minds, was designed and produced well afore Jag’s XK 140!

Just recently, my wife Maureen, herself an owner-member of our Jag Club, whilst rummaging through some of my parent’s belongings, came across the original photos of the Allard. It was her idea that we, in memory of dad, and because the car represented such a proud episode in his life, leaf back through time’s pages, and endeavor to trace the route she had traveled from the 1956 sale to the present day, trusting to fate of course, that MAGBODY actually did indeed still exist!

Fortune smiled – but feebly; for many any a gap still exists in her history, and no pot of gold was to be found at her rainbow’s end! We did discover that around twenty years ago, the car received a new Allard P-Type body, and the revolutionary Mag-Alloy body-shell... the prime objective behind our search, once removed, had been discarded – but, we questioned, to what end? [Ed: The Magbody was placed onto a P chassis...see Thurston note below]

By chance, our continuing probe brought us into contact with Colin Warnes of the Allard Register. With his help, we were able to locate the MAGBODY’ shell. It is currently housed at Heritage Classics, a Middlesbrough (Teesside) car restoration company that, coincidentally, specializes in Jaguar renovations.

I mentioned earlier that fortune had smiled, but…!

I was able to make contact with John Collins, the founder and owner of Heritage Classics, and a super gentleman to boot. Understanding and appreciating the motives of our project, he immediately supplied me with a series of photographs, a few of which are shown, plus an update: As I’m sure you will understand, his information generated within Maureen, Colin, and myself, a rash of very mixed feelings.

Sadness and a sense of dismay: that such an example of artistic expression and a long-obsolete skill, has been reduced to, by all appearances, a barely clinging-together collection of metallic leaf flakes. The buffet of one mighty wind gust, one fears, would scatter all in a thousand different directions!

A muted joy: that what once was, still is – though barely!

As John explained, the owner prior to the current, operated a trailer-manufacturing company in Aberdeen. Requiring additional space for his business operations, MAGBODY was moved into a field, where it remained for fifteen years.

As John warned me, and is oh so plainly evident, the Mag Alloy material has deteriorated far beyond any possible repair. He has therefore been tasked by the current owner to replicate all of the panels in aluminum. As you can see, the task has already commenced, but at the time of my writing is in temporary abeyance. John has promised to keep me updated as the project again moves along.

In our correspondence, I provided John with background material on Essex Aero and my father’s deep involvement in MAGBODY’s origins, (as discussed in this piece), and he intends forwarding it on to the current owner. Eventually, and with hope, between the three of us, it may be possible to color in some of those afore-mentioned historical gaps.

For Maureen and I, there remain pages still to turn before the book on MAGBODY can be closed, but I hope that for fellow Jag-fans, the story so far is an interesting one.

For us ardent enthusiasts, an emphatic “ONE” is the obvious answer to the question I initially posed. But, just for a moment, blank off the signature Allard grill and…maybe, just maybe, albeit tongue in cheek, my old dad had a point…you be the judge!

-Alan London


A NOTE ON THE ESSEX AERO from the October 1965 AOC Newsletter

This 2 plus 2 coupe was built on an extended Allard J2X chassis by Essex Aero Ltd, of Gravesend Airport in Kent, for R.J. Cross, managing director of the company, in l952. During the war years the firm made fuel tanks and other parts for de Havilland Mosquitos.

Like the standard J2X the Aero's chassis, 2224, had a divided front axle with forward radius rods, deDion rear axle, coil springs, hydraulic dampers, 12-inch Lockheed brakes with Alfin drums and air scoops, and 16-inch wire wheels.

Claimed to be the first car body built entirely of magnesium alloy (DTD 118A) the 16-gauge panels, 12-gauge pillars and supports achieved a remarkable saving in weight. The bare shell, without front seats and floor, but with doors, grille and luggage locker floor weighed only 140 lbs. Taken at the point of balance, a foot or so back from the screen pillars, the body could be held aloft by one man. The 20-gallon petrol tank weighed 15 ½ lbs., compared with 39 ½ lbs. in steel, and the front bumper was a mere 8 1bs. Torsion boxes ran beneath the door openings and argon arc welding was used throughout.

Location on the chassis was by six high tensile steel bolts in Silentbloc rubber units which, in conjunction with plug-in electrical connections, allowed the body to be lifted off for any extended servicing to the running gear. A large bonnet gave access to the engine and radiator. The instrument panel, controls and front seats remained with the chassis when the body was lifted and so it was possible to test drive in stripped form. Even with full trim, spare wheel, radio and Clayton heater, the Aero was 6 lbs. lighter than the standard J2X with Chrysler engine.

The black and grey Aero was first driven by a 3.9-litre Mercury V8 fitted with Ardun ohv heads. The gearbox was a four-speed electric Cotal. Mr. A E Freezer who had the car painted red, experienced some trouble with the Cotal, and later came a Chevrolet V8 and GMC automatic transmission.


A Note From A Previous Owner, Gerry Auger…

Hello and Happy New Year Colin, hope the following is of interest. I purchased the car in the early 1970s from Mr. Laurie Ferrari, he owned a few cars at various time and was known to other AOC members. The body color was a mustard yellow and the car was running with a small block Chevy and automatic. I believe it originally had a Ford Pilot engine with a Cotal preselect gearbox. I remember a photo of the car at Brands Hatch in the`60s when it was painted bright red. I ran the car for a while then fitted a 365in3 Chrysler Firepower hemi linked to a 4-speed manual from an Alvis speed 25. The hemi tended to overheat in traffic even with a refurbed radiator and twin electric fans. In spite of that I did compete at Goodwood sprint meetings, a club race at Silverstone and the Valence Hill climb (twice) all without success. The hemi was powerful but VERY heavy and I soon learnt NOT to lift off in a corner as the car would swop ends!

I eventually removed the (very light) magnesium body stripped it and resprayed it in a Ford color, "diamond white", the chassis was stripped and painted silver and the interior was reupholstered with a cream-colored leather which had red piping. I refurbished the wooden dash and had the instruments overhauled as were the brakes which had Alfin drums with steel liners.

I then fitted a 331in3 Caddy, but a change of personal and financial circumstances meant that I was unable to continue running the car and after storing it for a few years I sold it to friend and club member John Peskett who removed the body and shortened the chassis to that of a standard J2X.


A note from current Chassis Owner, Jerry Thurston:

Factory records show a Cadillac unit being fitted after the Ardun head Ford (that was I think a 390 engine) 

The Chassis did not receive a P type body when the Magbody was removed. Rather, the Magbody was put onto a P-type chassis, the idea being that rather than the body being discarded it would be preserved, sadly 14 years in a Scottish field put pay to it as you can see from the pictures! It's a pity that the shell had gone too far to be repaired and had to replicated be in Aluminium Alloy, obviously it was the sensible option though. However on a positive note it's wonderful that while the original body has 'gone' at least the design will survive

When the Magbody came off and the J2X chassis was revealed it was found that most of the standard under structure was still there, for instance the standard rear body hoop had merely been notched and laid back. This meant that it was easy to bring the chassis back to standard configuration base. Essentially by sorting the body hoops and reversing the lengthening process (merely cutting it on the additional welds and removing the extra box sections that had been added to lengthen it). The chassis was then given a 'standard' J2X body to bring it back to the configuration it would have been in had the chassis not been assigned to special purposes and continued through the build in the Allard Works .

PKJ 412 although now a 'standard' J2X, the car pays homage its history by carrying a Essex Aero Ltd. logo on her side.

Allard_J2X-2224a.jpg

Born again...

-Andy Leach

The folks in Australia and New Zealand are an enterprising lot. What do when the roof of an Allard P1 gets chopped off? You turn it into K1 special…of course!!

Below is the story of Andy Leach and his P1-K1 special.

Chassis P1 1956 was exported on March 22, 1951 and sold to Tom Collett in Dunedin; it was the first P1 to arrive in New Zealand. The car was painted black with a maroon interior.

The car was presumed lost, but was actually parked up in a barn in Cargills Castle in Dunedin. The Collett's owned Cargills Castle and the farm surrounding it. The car would've been stored in one of the barns (up to the top right of the picture attached), for 50 years plus. The story of the decapitation comes from Tom’s great grandson (the last owner of the Castle) who tells the story that back in 1960, some teenagers approached a railway track crossing with the arms down and drove over at high speed. It broke the pillars on the left and right side holding the roof to the body. So the roof was removed. Must of given them a bloody good scare…I wonder what they told dad!?

So there it sat, in one of the castle barns, until Andrew McDonald of Sumner Christchurch learned about it 5 - 6 years ago and arranged to purchase it. Sadly, Andrew passed away two-thirds into the restoration. He'd also consumed a lot of monetary resources. Surprisingly, the car survived the Christchurch earthquakes! The Sumner district was hit very hard and a lot of homes had to be abandoned and demolished

Now we come to the point where I learned of the car.

I was trolling an online auction site 2 ½ year back and he spied an unusual car while looking at a 1962 TVR. Truth be known, I was looking for a project, something like an early MG, Jags XK 120, 140 or 150's series, etc., etc.

Beth McDonald (Widow) came back to me and shared that it was an Allard. She shared some pictures. 8 months of waffling and negotiating with the widow and Andy took ownership of the project. It’s a horrible feeling negotiating such things, because you want to do business with a social responsibility, but you still need to get it for the right price to finish it. We met in the middle.

Andrew McDonald had died of cancer at age 52. I made a promise to myself, that I would finish it with my boy Luke. And now the car is nearly done

It's helped to have a terrific old hot rodder and Flathead mechanic down here in Auckland, New Zealand too, Chris Piaggi of C & R automotive. I thought I could handle the old flatty, but once again, those old world trade skills and knowledge are priceless.

I feel it is a very good Interpretation of a K1, using all Allard running gear end to end. It’s come out terrifically. A real eye catcher.

Today as I drove mine legally on the road for its very first time in 55 years, and dropped it down and gunned it in second down the motorway at 90+ miles an hour, I thought about Andrew McDonald and applauded him to have the hindsight to save this terrific car. It's a real eye catcher and I get an awful lot of stares.

My Panel beater is fitting the side vents and doing a fine cut and shine as I type before sexy picture time. Watch NZ Classic car magazine, full feature and sexy pin up photos coming. Looking forward to a wonderful spring and summer of driving and clubbing. It's going to be tremendous fun…

Maybe this should be known as Andy's Allard, given it's had two careful owners called Andy?

The P1 Road Test

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Allard P1. Let’s be honest, it’s not the prettiest car in the world. However, when you compare it with the competition at the time, I think it was actually pretty attractive from a “form follows function” perspective. The competition featured a lot of chrome and sweeping curves that made them look more glamourous than they really were. Engine-wise, all of the P1’s compatriots at the time we powered by straight 6 engines (or less), while the P1 and Ford Pilot were powered by war surplus Flathead V8’s.

We’re all familiar with Sydney Allard’s 1st place finish in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally. But the Guv’nors P1 was by no means a standard P1…it was more of a P1X, featuring coil sprung front suspension and a DeDion rear suspension. The flathead powering the car was also the more powerful Mercury 24-stud flathead with Allard dual carb manifold and aluminum heads*…plus a few other tricks that we don’t know about. When you think about it, the P1 was really one of the first muscle cars – in stock trim it was relatively anemic, but with a few of the option boxes selected, you could blow the doors off of just about any other tin-top on the road.

Unfortunately very few P1’s remain today, we know of a little over 40 cars out of the 559 cars that were built – and a handful of those 40 or so cars have been converted to J2 replicas. Even rarer is finding a running P1 here in the USA, we know of only 3 or 4. Fortunately one of those cars resides at the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum. The TBAM owns chassis #1885, which was originally sold through Bristol Street Motors on January 13, 1950. It was painted grey with a marron interior. The car was imported to the United States in 1958. The Emmanuel Cerf was kind enough to take me for a spin in the car and he even offered me the keys!

1885 is in very good mechanical and cosmetic condition. It has been lightly restored and maintains what appears to be the original factory build quality. The doors close with a solid clunk, but there is a fair amount of flex. The seats are comfortable and I must say the suicide door entry is a pleasure – it’s a shame the design is frowned upon today.

Driving the car was a bit of a mixed bag. Acceleration is quite good, especially when keeping in mind that this was a British passenger car from the late 40’s. The steering was heavy and the car wallowed a bit, but it was smooth at speed. My biggest frustration though was with the 3-speed column shifter. The shift linkage is quite complex, consisting of what can best described as a couple of scissor linkages that miraculously shift gears with a deft movement of the shift lever. I struggled with finding first gear from neutral – at one point the linkage jammed completely at an intersection. Fortunately the Cerf’s mechanic came to our rescue and was able to fix it after a few minutes. Apparently the scissor linkage can lock up on itself when handled incorrectly by a ham-fisted American like myself.

Other than that, the car was fun to drive. By no means does it handle like a ’56 Chevy Bel Air, but they are two completely different cars. A Chevy or Ford from the mid 50’s had the benefit of being created by hundreds of engineers and designers; and put together on a production-based assembly line. The J1, K1/2, L, M, and P1 cars essentially shared the same chassis layout with the only variations coming in wheelbase and a later switch to coil springs. Allard had just a few draftsmen & engineers; the cars were styled by Sydney and friend Godfry Imhoff! Even comparing Allard with its contemporaries of Austin, Alvis, Jaguar, and Triumph – what Allard accomplished with the P1 and the other cars was pretty amazing.

When driving the P1, I could imagine the car with 50% more horsepower, tuned suspension, and fresh tires blasting through the Alps like Sydney Allard. Sadly the shifter quickly brought me back to reality. However, with some more seat time I’m sure that I could come to grips with that blasted shifter. If I ever bought a P1, I would give serious consideration to converting it over to a floor mounted shifter. Sacriledge! I know, but in the name of drivability, it should be considered.

While the standard flathead was fairly anemic, it was easily tuned. In America, there was a wide variety of tuning parts available to the intrepid hot rodder. Unfortunately American tuning parts were nearly impossible to obtain in post war Europe – while exporting was essential to rebuilding post-war economies, importing foreign car parts wasn’t exactly at the top of the governments priority list.

-Colin Warnes

*The Allard dual carb manifold is a direct knock-off of Eddie Meyer’s manifold – it was replicated without Eddie’s permission. The Allard aluminum manifold was a direct copy of Edelbrock’s flathead manifold, which was apparently done with Edelbrock’s blessing. The parts were acquired by Reg Canham on a trip to the US in 1948 and smuggled back to Britain as carry-on baggage aboard his Trans-Atlantic flight.

Euro Trip: J2 2089

Hi there,
Please below find below a few lines concerning the work done on my Allard - I had planned to provide a comprehensive update for the Allard Register. After my Alpine trip, now I have to do this differently.
- October 2011: Obtained the Allard at RM Auction in London (99J2089) built 1951
- It came from the US, but the car was originally delivered to Cuba
- The car came equipped with a 8.4 ltr Cadillac and Hydramatic automatic gearbox, which I found unbearable. It got awfully hot and the automatic and the huge weight on the front axle made driving it unpleasant
- I decided to swap the engine and bought a complete correct engine (331. ci / 1950) - and had the auxiliaries added to it (pretty challenging)
- Work was completed earlier this year (to a state where the car was drivable) - but not completely finished (shocks , instruments to be fettled with)
- It took quite a while to find a mechanic who was brave enough to get on the Allard - after an initial drawback I convinced my mechanic who deals with my 1964  Mercedes to work on the Allard with the help of a Corvette race mechanic who did the engine work.  
- Drove a couple of hundred kms to run the engine in - and then joined my fellow vintage car folks (from the Talbot Club) - for a tour through the Alps.
- The Allard went like a rocket - everybody was stunned by power and the verve
- Finally axle broke just on top of the Furka Pass in Switzerland (2.400 m / 7.200 feet) - fortunately w/o any other damage neither to Car nor driver.
- Enjoy the photos!

Fred H.

Strange Brew: Allard J2X 3209

One of our hobbies is tracking down the history of old Allards. This can be a time consuming pastime, but fortunately there are others that share this same interest. A few years ago, we were contacted by Canadian Rupert Lloyd Thomas. Rupert was interested in a Canadian J2X that he had come across a few photos of. According to our records, only nine Allards were exported to Canada, but only one of which was a J2X. We were able to determine that the car was chassis 3209 (one of the last built).

Recently, Rupert was rewarded for his hard work with a drive in the car by its current owner, Al Sands. He writes, “I thought you would like these photographs taken by myself at the Hockley Valley Hill Climb Revival in Ontario, Canada on July 2nd 2015. Driver Al Sands, accompanied by Don Haddow, all-time hill record holder in the Jordan Special. Many thanks to Al Sands for driving me up the course in the Allard.” What a treat to get to enjoy a drive in the car you’ve been searching for.

Here’s the story of J2X 3209:
The Allard Register archives: 3209 was originally painted beige with a red interior and crimson wire wheels. It was exported on May 15, 1953 to Canada via Budd & Dyer who were located on 4269 St. Catharine St. W. Montreal, Quebec. Per David Anderson Charters, Alec Budd of Budd and Dyer Ltd were the importer and distributor of Jaguar and Alfa Romeo; he was a rallyist and a sponsor. 

Per Al Sands, the original owner was David Gurd of Quebec. The car was then sold to Richard Mauron of Toronto. Mauron raced MG's in the early 50's. Rick Mauron’s father owned a Swiss Chalet restaurant in Montreal and Rick opened a Swiss Chalet in Toronto, near Varsity Stadium. He raced the Allard at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1955. He pranged the front right and got rid of it and bought a 300SL Gullwing.

The car then passed onto Fred J Hayes, although he soon advertised the car in the January 1956 issue of Road & Track. The ad read “ALLARD J2X. One of last produced, mileage under 5000, condition original and immaculate, modified Cadillac engine, Jaguar gearbox, wire wheels, side mount spare. Offers to Fred J. Hayes, 79 Bideford St., Downsview, Ontario, Canada.” Hayes apparently failed to sell the car in 1956, as he was racing the car until 1957. 
The car was painted red in 1955 and registered 42 347 (per the picture at Rattlesnake Point), then black in 1956 with registration 87 780 (per the picture at Harewood). Digging into his files, photographer Roger A. Proulx came across the photo below - the Cad-Allard seen here in the pits after putting up the fastest time of the day with Fred Hayes at the wheel during the Rattlesnake Hill climb in 1956. 

Allard_J2X3209_6.JPG

The car then passed to Dave R. Pidgeon of Oakville, Ontario. Registration for 1958 is 415 986 (Per http://www.flickr.com/photos/50312897@N02/5451713273/ “Photographed in Oakville Ontario Canada on Kerr Street in 1958 this Allard J2X was owned by a nephew of screen actor Walter Pidgeon. As a resident of Oakville and working in Toronto it was on sunny days his daily driver.”

3209 then appeared on the cover of Canada Track & Traffic in October of 1959, and was registered as 106 757. It was then offered for sale in the July 1961 issue of CT&T, “CADILLAC-ALLARD J2X - Superb track and road car. Particularly suited to hill climbs, as featured on CT&T cover, October 1959. Maintained in top condition. Engine set up by Detroit Racing Equipment with 4 2-throat carburetors, solid valve lifters. Corvette 4-speed transmission. Finished in bright blue, red leather. Not suitable for beginners or those with a "heavy foot". D. R. Pidgeon, 143 Wedgewood Dr., Oakville, Ont. VI. 4-3044.

Dave Pidgeon was unable to sell the car in 1959, but finally sold in January 1962 to Al Sands for $2,000. Then a photo of a J2X surfaces with Ontario plates from 1970 at a car show held at Harewood with registration 370 286. Al Sands is in the photograph, on the left in the flat cap. As noted above, Al still owns the car today (over 50 years!).

Why did the car have so many different registration plates? J. Scott Morris explains, “Regarding licences; at that time registrations occurred annually so it is almost impossible to follow one car by the licence plate in Ontario in the 50s - 60s. I do not recall off-hand when the system changed.” At renewal you bought the metal tag and got the next number off the pile!

The K1 Restoration Resumed – At Last !

-Mel Herman

A few years ago I bought a K1 - KWJ 770 chassis number 458 back in March 2007 and promptly started to strip it down for rebuilding. All was going well and the chassis rebuild progressed with much speed until….. we decided to sell our house and build a new one .

Those of you who have ever embarked on such a task or have ever watched the agonies of those participating in such an endeavor will know that what you hope (and pray) will be a straightforward and enjoyable exercise never usually is.

Now my background is architecture and construction so you would think (well we did anyway) that we wouldn’t fall into the pitfalls of others – no such thing! What started and received planning permission as a single story house with a roof height restriction very quickly became something larger and more complex. A first floor was added by further excavation and lowering the ground floor, adding complications with retaining walls, adjusting surrounding garden and patio levels etc, etc, etc.

Having excavated further into the ground I then decided (or was encouraged by friends) to construct a wine cellar - it would have been cheaper to have bought a vineyard in France.

I won’t go on, but suffice to say the house is now finished, we love it, but at the time it put paid to the K’s continuing restoration…we had other things to occupy us.

Whilst all this was going on I made the decision to fit a Cadillac 331 engine into the car. I prised one from Dean Butler who had just bought it on Ebay in the ‘States, was an unknown and would likely need a complete rebuild so I approached Neil (Biggles) Bennet to rebuild it for me to hot road spec.

Neil had rebuilt the Frenchie I have in my M type and is a whizz at hotting up flatheads. He holds a class record at Prescott and races at Pendine Sands with “Boz” his famous Flathead powered Batten Special . When asked whether he would be interested in rebuilding my ohv Cad engine he immediately agreed.

He goes about things thoroughly with considerable thought, enthusiasm and an abundance of technical ability and the first thing he wanted to know was what I wanted to use the car for. “Hillclimbing” was my immediate response. Now I’ve never competed on track but having watched my Allard buddies (and Biggles) competing at Prescott and Shelsley I thought I must have a go, it looks fun.

Whilst we were involved with our house build, Biggles researched the Cad rebuild and we agreed on the final spec. I wanted a good, reasonably fast and hopefully reliable engine with enough torque to hopefully worry Dave Loveys up the hills.

In February I collected my “New” engine. New ? I think it is better than new:

  • Engine stripped and chemically cleaned.
  • Rebored and crank reground.
  • Heads leveled.
  • New forged 2618 alloy Venolia pistons heat treated to T6 for extra strength.
  • CR increased to 10:1
  • Stronger valve springs.
  • Fast road camshaft.
  • Lightened flywheel.
  • Electronic distributor.
  • Holley 650 carb.
  • Mild head porting.
  • Fitted with a purpose made “Rattler” Torsion Vibration Absorber.
  • Whole rotating assembly dynamically balanced. (You can see a short video on YouTube of my engine on the balancing rig. https://youtu.be/_8zE79mI_b8)

I also decided to fit a Jaguar gearbox and was fortunate in being able to tease a bellhousing adaptor and adaptor plate from James Smith to this end. I took the gearbox to Biggles for rebuilding as well and the whole assembly is now in the rebuilt chassis and looks fantastic with it’s polished aluminium rocker covers.

The bodywork has gone off to be stripped and a new scoop put in the bonnet (Holley needs headroom) and I need to get a new wiring loom from Autosparks then the next stage can continue – don’t hold your breath for the next episode though I’m also refurbishing a boat .

That’s all Folks, for now!

The Family Car

-Click here or on any of the photos to see more of the Porter J2X.

By Tom Porter

When we consider the famous Allard J2X’s, I would suspect that few would associate them with a small auto dealership in St Louis Park MN. But yet, in the spring of 1952, five of the 83 J2X’s produced were delivered to Walker Imported Motors. Three of them were (3057, 3058 and 3060) were all a part of the same shipment arriving on May 24, and were sent to Fond du Lac WI.

There they were turned over to Carl Kiekhaefer to be fitted with specially modified Chrysler 331 hemi engines. Kiekhaefer owned Mercury Marine, manufacturer of Mercury outboard boat motors. He participated in the 1952 and 1953 Carrera Panamericana where he entered hemi-equipped Chrysler Saratogas in ’52, and ran four Chrysler New Yorker Specials in the '53 race. He then moved on to NASCAR where he was the moving force behind the Chrysler 300 NASCAR success story of 1955.

J2X 3058’s Chrysler hemi engine was equipped with a Weiand manifold and twin Carter four-barrel carbs. The car was first sold to Eddie Jones of St. Paul MN. Eddie entered the car in Wisconsin’s Elkhart Lake Road Race in the fall of 1952, carrying the number 9. The car didn't finish the race as the gearbox broke during Saturday’s practice. Evidently the ‘48 Ford Pilot 3 speed box wasn't robust enough to handle the hemi’s torque. The car doesn't appear to have raced again.
-------
My father, Bill Porter, was still in high school when he and my uncle Jim drove the family’s Jaguar XK120 from Milwaukee up to Elkhart Lake. The Jag was entered in the Memorial event, with Air Force pilot Donnie Warren at the wheel. The event went fairly well, but the Jag was out of brakes and filled with hay bale residue when Warren returned it to Bill and Jim. While they were watching the event, they happened to notice an Allard J2X parked next to the Pine Point Resort. They thought it was the coolest thing they had ever seen, and they ended up taking lots of pictures of the car. The hook was set with my old man – someday he was going to own an Allard.

Fast forward to the Milwaukee Hot Rod Show at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in November 1969. My dad and his close friend, Mark Daniels (who at the time owned Maston Gregory’s C-Type Jag), went to the show and came across a cream and blue Allard J2X for sale. The owner, Richard Blaha gave the young men his contact information, and upon leaving the Hot Rod Show, Mark passed the information on to my mother. She subsequently bought the J2X as a surprise for my dad.

Shortly thereafter – while Bill Porter was at work – Mrs. Porter succumbed to the temptation to take the Allard for a ‘little spin’ around the block. She fired it up in the garage, shifted it into reverse, and gave it a little gas as she released the clutch. It immediately squirted out of the garage and proceeded 100 yards across an adjacent meadow before she was able to bring it to a halt. It took her a couple minutes to regain her composure and shift it into first. Releasing the clutch resulted in ‘déjà vu all over again’ before she reigned it to a halt just before crashing into the garage. At that point, she coerced her children to push the car back into its stall and swear to never breath a word of the event to their dad.

Dad, together with us kids, commenced doing some mechanical work on the car, and repainted the Allard in our garage. As we were going through the car, we found handwritten information that mentioned Eddie Jones as the original owner. That made it easy to trace back and find the car’s history, and correlate that information with my dad’s 1952 pictures from Elkhart Lake. We were thus able to verify that this was the #9 Allard, and those photos were very helpful with our restoration.

We have a great black and white picture of my mother and father on the cover of June Sprints Program from the early ‘70’s. I felt pretty cool as a kid being able to ride along with my dad as he and Mark Daniels stormed around Milwaukee’s northern suburbs in our Allard and Mark’s Jag C-Type.

My dad eventually parked the Allard when the keys in the stub axels started to fail. He planned to do a complete restoration, and stripped the car down to the frame, where it sat in the garage until 2002. The biggest reason he didn't restore the Allard sooner was that he had too many other cars and not enough space to properly undertake the project. And of course his law practice and family of six took priority.

During the ensuing years my dad raced the ex-Auto Delta 2 liter Trans Am championship-winning Alfa GTA of Horst Kwech in the C Sedan class from 1974 to 1978. He then bought a TIGA Sports 2000 2 liter car which we still have. He raced this car until 1983 when he bought another TIGA SC83 which I currently vintage race.
---------
Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and the family decided it was time to restore the Allard so that he could have a chance to drive it again. He got to drive the car around the Elkhart Lake road circuit on several occasions in 2005, and it won a reserve award from Road & Track magazine with the car during the racecar concours at the 2005 Kohler International Challenge.

The least I could do for my dad was to give him back this car after all the amazing experiences he had growing up around the cars, circuits and people of road racing. To my knowledge it is one of the most well preserved Allards around. It is completely original, except for the 42 gallon fuel cell inside the original tank. The car has the original hemi engine, Ford transmission and enclosed driveline - along with the original generator and tach drive. We drive the car weekly, and drive it up to Road America at Elkhart Lake 3-4 times per year for various vintage events,.

          I now understand and appreciate the Allard Allure and the Grendel Fable!
 Special thanks to Joe Oliver for sharing his photos of the Porter J2X. To see more of his work, please visit his web site at www.M-V-Photo.com

Allard K2-1969

One of the nice things about putting this site together are the interesting emails we receive from our readers and members. The other day we received the note below from one of our members describing the unique history of his K2. We thought you might enjoy it...
--------

A few years I purchased an Allard K2, chassis #1969; purchased from the family of the previous owner, Bernard Berman, who passed away many years ago. Mr. Berman extracted this car from a barn in 1992. The car was sold new locally in August 1951 and Mr. Berman purchased it from the family of the original owner. It had just over 5,000 miles at that time but the barn storage had taken a toll on the cosmetics. Mr. B had the car fully restored cosmetically being careful to save the original parts and correctness of the car. No major rust repair or engine rebuild was required. The color was changed from the original sky blue with red wheels and red interior to red with black interior. Today the car has a shade over 6200 miles on it. I had to do a major engine and fuel system service when I got the car because it had been sitting for a long time and I did a fairly thorough detailing of the car. I am planning on adding seat belts to it, but otherwise I'm loathed to touch anything for fear of losing what remains of the originality.

There's an interesting story as to how the car was originally sold here. There was a major department store in Allentown, PA owned by an eccentric and by the 1950's very wealthy business man named Max Hess. Hess loved cars. He would buy new and exotic cars and drive them for a day or two and give them away to employees. He was also known to buy the latest sports, passenger, or exotic car and not even drive them, but put them right in the name of a friend or employee. That’s what happened with this car. His manager of store facilities was a man named Luckenbach. Luckenbach is the original owner of this car, although we know Hess paid for it – confirmed by the original owners card. Over the years Luckenbach received several cars from Hess including a 1954 Corvette, 1961 Jaguar XKE coupe and roadster. All of these cars were purchased by Mr. Berman, but and now have been scattered to the wind. 
-Jed
----------
If you'd like to tell us about your Allard, click here to send us an email. 

Another J2X, Back on the Road!

Alan Beall has owned J2X 3062 since 1969 and has had the car "restored" twice before, but "not professionally.”

She is Cadillac powered with a 331 engine, Edelbrock intake, 6 Stromberg ‘97’ carbs, increased compression, ported heads, Schneider Cam. The engine will be dyno’d soon.

Trans is Lincoln Zephyr and all the running gear is original (except the engine) and all the original body panels were restored. J2X 3062 features (2) spare wheel carriers, (chrome wires wheels are on the way) and the fuel tank has dual fillers. The original gauges were missing, but it came with Stewart Warner gauges from the early 60's.

Alan entrusted the restoration of 3062 to Steve Dennish of Lime Works Speed Shop in Whittier, CA. Steve picked up the car from Alan in Hawaii of December 2009 and loaded the stripped car into a container. The restoration started in February, 2010 and she was ready for the LA Roadster Show by June, 2011. As you can see, the car still needs a few finishing touches, but everything should be wrapped up soon.

Alan is hoping to race the car, but now that it looks so good…he’s not so sure! You can read about 3062’s restoration on the H.A.M.B. , by clicking here.

The All-Weather J2X

A note from Lindsey P…

“Here's the photo I had mentioned to you that Jerry (second owner of J2X 3147) sent me of this ugly duckling. It does appear to be a perfectly stock J2X with a Perry Fina canvas top. We don't know who's car it was. The top was really not as unattractive as it appears in this photo as the camera angle here does not do it justice at all.

The use of the top on my car was as much to deflect the direct sunlight as it was to keep out the rain. With it engaged, and the side curtains in place, it did provide decent driving conditions in most adverse weather conditions. I was able to use the car daily at Colgate University during winter driving conditions in upper New York State although the car was a real pisser in snow and ice !!!

I used to drive up from college to Stowe or Lake Placid on winter weekends with my skis sticking out  above the right passenger door with that passenger side curtain removed. I guess it did present an interesting sight for following cars.”

'Skip' and His K2 Allard

By Richard Saunders – with Chuck Warnes and Otto Meijer

Back in 1959 I drove my J2 Allard (No. 2156) over 1300 miles from San Diego CA to Bremerton WA. I underwent some major surgery at that time, and after an extended recovery I was finally able to drive the J2 again.

            The young guy delivering newspapers on local roads (herding a used-up Model A Ford) noticed my J2 Allard. He soon found an opportunity to pay me a visit. ‘Skip’ Torbitt was seventeen, small in stature, and appeared a lot younger. We talked a lot about cars, and I gave him a ride in my J2. During a subsequent visit Skip announced that if I knew of any Allard for sale, to please let him know – as he decided he had to have an Allard. (I’ll never know how he convinced his parents).

            Fate stepped into this scene. A few weeks went by, and we saw an ad for an Allard in the Seattle newspaper. Skip arranged to see the car, and I was recruited as the Allard expert to accompany him on the ferry over to Seattle. We then commenced our hunt for the address through the West End streets. Then, as we entered one street a bright red K2 Allard caught my eye.

 

Read More

Allard of the Month - K2 1844

After sharing his recollections of the 1952 Watkins Glen Grand Prix, we asked Ed to tell us about the Allard K2 he has owned since purchasing it new almost sixty years ago. --Eds.

By Ed Reed

Nothing was the same. At least that’s the way it seemed trying to adjust to normal life after returning home from the Pacific after World War II. The '41 Olds 98 convertible had been sold, the music on the radio was different, and most of my time was taken up in an accelerated GI Bill program finishing up my final three years at Harvard. Amid the hectic schedule, I began attending sprint car races run on dirt tracks throughout southern New England, on weekends.

Read More

Allard of the Month - J1 415

Ted Frost was a successful international motocross scrambler, trials rider and Norton works rider in the period immediately before and after WW2.  He owned the Drift Bridge Garage in Reigate Road, just outside Epsom, England. He had become friends with Sydney and his brothers through the Streatham Motorcycle Club, of which they were all members prior to the war.

He persuaded Sydney to build him a J1 for his use. Hence 79J415, the ‘Frost’ Allard, registration number MPG 250, was built and delivered on the 23rd September 1948. It was the thirteenth and last J1 to be made.

Read More

Allard of the Week: K2 1741

K2 #1742 was shipped from the London docks on October 13, 1950 and was shipped to the USA without engine. Upon arrival, it was fitted with the preferred Cadillac 331 engine, with a single – bbl Carter carburetor, and 3-speed Ford transmission. Most of the early history of the car is unknown, other than it spent most of its early life on the East Coast and the Midwest, ranging in location from North Carolina to Indiana. In the early 1980’s it was even sold at one of the Barrett-Jackson auctions. After bouncing around between owners, it eventually ended up with

Read More