By Bill Pollack
A thousand years ago I was racing a very crude but powerful machine called an Allard. Mr. Allard had the crazy notion that he could sell a car without an engine. This may be the answer for Detroit. It would certainly drop the cost of an Escalade and qualify it as a ”No Emissions” vehicle.
The car that was destined for me to drive had a large hole where the engine should be. This hole was soon filled up with an enormous Cadillac, massaged by Edelbrock and bored out to the point that if I exceeded 6000 RPM the pistons could swap holes.
Forty years later I received a call from a nice man I’ll call Dave (because that is his real name). Dave had spent the previous twelve years tracking and finding the remains of that Allard. Where else but in a barn, of course?
The Allard had been repaired so many times that it was no longer recognizable. Dave knew that under all that putty, lead and misshapen metal there was an Allard. Dave put his heart and soul into restoring the Allard to exactly the way it was in 1954, just a nano-second before the soft pine stepped in to declare that, you better smile when you say “soft.”
The car was completed exactly the way it was in 1954, right down to the proper dash plaques – just in time for the local poobahs
to announce a reunion of Allards at the Laguna Seca race course. “Laguna Seca” is right there with ”soft pine” in the peculiar dialect spoken in del norte. Meaning “dry lake,” it refers to a large mud puddle in the middle of the course, or a dry white wine. I’ve never been sure which.
Dave, in a fit of generosity, called and asked me if I would like to once again drive the Allard after a 40-year hiatus. I said “yes” without really thinking, which is the way I make all important decisions. As soon as I hung up, my wife Bobbi (her real name), gave me a look which I can only describe as a cross between pity for the soon-to-be-homeless and the look of shock at hearing an orangutan recite a haiku.
My first sight of the car brought back a lot of memories, some actually concerned the car. It was still very exciting. I quickly jumped into a nearby phone booth and slipped into my driving suit, somewhat snug, still covered with patches advertising products long gone like Grant Piston Rings, Bardahl, Cromwell Helmets, to name a few.
Upon climbing into the cockpit – which was a bit of a squeeze – I noticed that in restoring the car they had missed a crucial problem. When the car hit the tree in 1954 it must have shortened it by at least six inches. I questioned Dave about this and he, glancing at the drum-like fit of my driving suit, assured me that the cockpit dimensions were exactly the same. “But,” I said, “Look at the steering wheel. It’s practically in my chest! The Brits must have really short arms, or hands growing out of their elbows!”
Dave, now showing a little impatience, said that this was a J2 and cockpits were smaller than later models. I tried to shrug, and hit the starter button. Eight large pistons came to life, along with my pituitary gland joyfully squirting adrenalin into all the old familiar places.
Pulling on to the track I ignored the large amount of play in the steering. The engine still starved out on left hand turns and then came to life like it was mad at the world. The wind threatened to remove a layer of skin, and my right leg kept wanting to jump to the brake pedal and security. The brake pedal was good and the gas pedal was bad. I could see that time travel was not easy and it was definitely dangerous, but they’ll figure it out one of these days