It Fits!

Chris Eames, Syd McDonald, Andy Robinson, me and John Hunt. The guy at the back is a Beaulieu ghost. Bob Roberts took the photo which is why he is not in the team pic. (source; Bob Roberts)

May 10th marked another important date in the restoration of the Allard Chrysler dragster – a full inspection of the rolling chassis (qualifying condition and identifying part numbers) and the fitting of the Booth-Arons recreated engine into the chassis. There had been worries about the spacers used on the rocker covers and inlet manifold creating fitting problems but these proved to be unfounded. We had to remove the injection unit and the blow-off valve to shoehorn it in, but once manhandled through the frame the engine fitted like a glove.

Shoehorning the engine into the chassis. John Hunt left, Syd McDonald right with Andy Robinson and Bob Roberts at the sharp end. (source; Tim Woodcock)

Not only that but the existing body panels fit almost perfectly and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. The pipes from the blower to the inlet manifold are clearly not correct and we must assume they came from the dragster that replaced Ally in 1965 rather than our car. As we anticipated the need to replace these because of their condition it’s not such a big problem. For the first time since 1964 the car has an engine where it should be and is now on display at Beaulieu in that condition.

The engine is installed and injection unit refitted. (source; Bob Roberts)

This view shows the blow-off valve back in position (source; Chris Eames)

The rest of the inspection revealed that most components are in good condition with basic refurbishment required rather than component replacement. Andy Robinson and Chris Eames focused on the rear end and transmission while Bob Roberts, Syd McDonald and John Hunt concentrated on the front end. Everyone (including the Beaulieu crew) helped out with the actual engine installation.

We discovered such anomalies as the need to remove the front brake calipers before the wheels could be taken off. There is also a sheared half-shaft and only one set of rear brakes, plus some of the cockpit controls need fabricating. But all in all we spotted no insurmountable complications. Chris Eames tried to locate the original paint that might still be hiding under the existing color but it appears that it was all stripped back before applying the current metallic blue.  And we did identify the dark color on the chassis and rear panels as being a dark navy blue rather than black. Unless we get any additional evidence about the original colors applied we will match the existing colors.

Andy Robinson said, “Considering the car hasn’t been used since 1964 I was pleasantly surprised at the good condition of the components when we stripped them down. The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu have obviously looked after the exhibit well. Although there is still much to do, it looks like the restoration work should not be quite as extensive as originally thought”.

After a good day’s work Andy Robinson contemplates the next stage of the restoration (source; Chris Eames)

Many thanks to the team who joined me at Beaulieu and carried out the installation and inspection; Bob Roberts, Andy Robinson, Syd McDonald, Chris Eames and John Hunt. Although most of us consider it a privilege to work on this project we should not forget that all this is on a voluntary basis incurring personal costs. And a special thanks to the Beaulieu team who helped with the lifting and preparation of a hydraulic test rig to check out the calipers. Now we have a car with an engine in place I can get down to fixing some public appearances during the summer. The Hot Rod Drive-In at Beaulieu June 18th/19th is confirmed as is Dragstalgia at Santa Pod July 16th/17th. I will be looking for volunteers to man our display shortly.

-Brian Taylor