Two Green K3’s on a Play Date

To the casual observer these two ‘British racing green’ Allard K3’s might seem identical. However, in many respects, they are at opposite ends of the Allard K3 spectrum.

3192 left the Allard factory set up for Cadillac power, and was delivered to Noel Kirk Motors in Los Angeles in July 1953. The original owner put 23,000 miles on it before knee problems forced him to park it in 1962. It spent the next 17 years in hibernation until Dr. Martin Allard purchased it in 1979. The only work required to get it roadworthy was some minor tweaking to free up the stuck Lincoln Zephyr gearbox. The 59 year-old Caddie, along with entire drive train and suspension, are original and virtually untouched.

This beautifully preserved K3 looks just as handsome today as it did 31 years ago when it was featured on the Allard Owners Club Christmas card. It has the original top, bench seating, and side shifter in the well next to the left door. Aside from routine maintenance, Martin freshened up the paint and had the original seats re-stitched prior to driving it from his home in Southern CA up to Monterey in 1990. Martin has driven #3192 on a regular basis, putting about 26,000 miles on it over the past 32 years.

Incidentally, Martin also owns another K3, which is currently in Southern CA. As he plans to drive that car on a more regular basis, it has been converted to a Hydramatic with an open driveline – and disk brakes. 

3191 was set up for a Chrysler hemi before delivery to Sports Cars, Inc. of Oakland CA in March 1953. It passed through several owners over the years, and had obviously lived a rough life before Chuck Warnes purchased its battered remains in the form of a bastardized ‘basket case’ in 1984. Key missing parts included the entire drive train and rear suspension – and sundries such as the windshield and top. The front brakes, steering gear, parking brake and hood latch came as a part of the package – but were beyond salvage.

Chuck decided early on to rebuild his K3 as a ‘driver’. Over the next 22 years he obtained the deDion tube and splined rear hubs from another K3 that had been ‘parted out’, and found a craftsman who inserted a set of Ford eight-inch gears into a Ford banjo differential housing. Dudley Hume provided a set of splined front hubs to replace 3191’s original bolt-ons, and Bob Lytle kindly sold Chuck his J2X’s front brakes when he converted over to Buick drums. Brian Golder supplied his collection of spare K3 parts from his home in the UK – including windshield frames, steering gear with wheel and coil springs.

Chuck found a complete and running 392 hemi that had been harvested from the carcass of a ’58 Imperial demolition derby gladiator. This engine was matched with a 4-speed Muncie and conversion to an open driveline. That meant major re-engineering the differential mountings – thanks to Jack Anderson’s ingenuity.

Other ‘enhancements’ included a dual master cylinder, Cobra ‘Classic’ bucket seats, ‘nerf bar’ bumpers, a 22-gallon fuel cell and elimination of the side windows.

Martin now lives in Carmel, CA and both Martin and Chuck were intrigued with the idea of getting these two green K3’s together for some side-by-side comparisons. That finally worked out this past March. Chuck made a brief stop on the way to pick up his ‘evil twin’, Chuck Olsen, who served as official photographer and fellow beer taster for this memorable event. Martin must have heard our raucous approach through the tranquil streets of Carmel, for he already had 3192 out on the street and warming up by the time we arrived.

Our plan was to take a run down Highway 1 to Big Sur for a chance to play around the hills and curves, and take advantage of some unique photo ops. However, the sea fog a few miles south of Garrapata Beach triggered ‘Plan B’ – the Rocky Point Restaurant’s parking lot with its panoramic view overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This reprise also provided the opportunity to swap mounts for the trek back to Carmel.

Chuck found 3192’s original bench seat to be surprisingly comfortable, despite its rather upright backrest to accommodate the car’s top (bonnet) stowed behind the seat. This was Chuck’s first time using a K3’s original shift linkage. Despite Martin’s instructions to use only 2nd and 3rd gears, he found his double clutching skills had gotten rusty since his old farm truck driving days. His general impression is that Martin’s K3, with its full upholstery and tailpipes routed over the rear axle to the rear of the car, is the more ‘civilized’ of the two cars.

Martin’s impression of 3191 is that the Chrysler hemi, coupled with the 4-speed box, was definitely more ‘torquey’. The large diameter exhaust pipes barking just outside each door added to the sensations. He remarked that this car evoked memories of the Neal Hardy replica that he used as his daily driver for several years back in the ‘90’s.

Our return leg of this 350-mile round trip headed east through Carmel Valley. We then turned left, up over the Laureles Grade where that picturesque stretch of road intersects Highway 68 at the entrance to Laguna Seca Raceway. The Grade is a beautiful and fun route – especially so for two Medicare card-holders playing with their green Allard K3’s.