Allards at the 2013 Classic Motor Show

-Mel Herman

250 Classic Car Clubs and 1,600 Classic Cars filling 11 Halls brought 65,000 enthusiasts to the 2013 Classic Motor Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham this year. The Allard Owners Club displayed 5 fantastic cars on stand 740 in Hall 12 and Mick Walsh, the editor of Classic and Sportscar magazine, said that ours was his favourite stand of the whole show.

There were two elements we wanted to feature on our stand in this year’s AOC display. The first was the 60th anniversary of Sydney leading the pack on the opening lap of the 1953 Le Mans in his JR which we extended to feature all the J series models which ran at Le Mans in period.

The second was the first outing for the Palm Beach Mk ll which has been painstakingly and wonderfully restored by Lloyd and Alan Allard at their company Allard Sportscars Ltd. in Gloucester.

The Cars were the stars of the show and the second JR driven by Zora Arkus-Duntov and Ray Merrick at Le Mans in 1953 was one of them.   NLN 650, car number 5 is presently owned by Hans Hubner, it drew lots of interest and we were delighted that Hans flew over from Germany to be with us on the Saturday of the show. Hans told us that he is planning to have the car prepared to race again at Le Mans in the near future. Brilliant news, good luck Hans.

Alongside the JR was the prototype J2, KXC 170 which, as Sydney’s own car, entered and won many events being driven by him and his wife Eleanor.  Presently owned by John Peskett who in recent years has undertaken a wonderful restoration of the car whilst keeping its period feel and character, even using old worn leather for the seats to prevent it looking “too restored“ . Following some serious detective work John managed to reunite the chassis with its original body after it had been lost for several years.  A serious piece of important Allard History and one which must have lead Sydney onto the Le Mans route with his cars; in 1950 he came third in another J2.

Chris Pring’s J2 was another restoration epic. Known as the Festival of Britain Car this J2 is used to being on display having featured in that major national event in 1951. After the Festival it was delivered to its new owner Desmond Titterington in Belfast who gained 14 podiums in 24 events between 1951-54. Its later owner took it to India where it won the Calcutta Grand Prix in 1958 and 1960. Later rescued from a scrap heap and packed away in boxes it was eventually repatriated by Chris and spent 12 years being restored to its present wonderful condition. No showroom queen, Chris is now seen on the hills campaigning his pride and joy.

In 1952 the FIA banned the use of cycle wing mudguards so for the 1952 Le Mans the Allard works designed and produced an all enveloping front end for the J2X in order to comply with this new ruling. There were only 14 J2X Le Mans bodied cars built and the car which Tom Walker kindly brought to this year’s show has been campaigned hard for most of its life.

First owner Rupert de Larrinaga won the Sports Car Team Trophy at the Shelsley Walsh International meeting in 1953 and one of his co drivers at that event was Cyril Wick.  Cyril, who is a long standing member of the Allard Owners Club, came to our stand on the Friday with his charming wife and was immediately pounced upon by journalist Graham Clark keen to take video footage of Cyril back in the driving seat of the car he competed in 60 years earlier and to interview him about his recollections of that event.

In recent years Tom Walker has completely restored the car (in a wonderful seemingly dilapidated fashion). He is now a serious C type challenger with it and Tom describes the car as being immensely powerful and enjoyable on track and road.  Apart from regular UK events he has driven it to the Spa circuit in Belgium where after competing in the Woodcote Trophy, he then drove it home again. That’s what cars are for and the way to get the most enjoyment out of them, not trailering. You might need some warm wet weather gear on occasions though!

I have already mentioned the Palm Beach restoration by Allard Sportscars Ltd. This car is the prototype of the Mkll version of the Palm Beach and one of only 6 dropheads produced.  Also used to being on display, when it first left the works it was the 1956 Earls Court Motor Show, so I thought it quite fitting that it should be centre stage of our stand at this year’s Classic Motor Show.

Lloyd and Alan acquired the car just over a year ago in a very sorry but quite complete condition. Over the past year or so they have completely stripped the car down to its last nut and bolt.  Lloyd built a new chassis jig to check and repair anything defective that was found  and the whole car has been rebuilt by the Allard family works to, what we all considered to be, better than when it was new. It is wonderful to see a car that has been rebuilt to this standard be the Allard family today.

This project, we are told by Lloyd and Alan; has been the precursor to their plans to build continuations to FIA standards of the cars originally built by the Allard works. The new chassis jig made by Lloyd for the Palm Beach project is intended to be used to fabricate a new JR chassis their being similar in many respects to each other with twin tube construction and similar wheelbases.

For those interested in acquiring an immaculate piece of history the Palm Beach Mk ll is now being offered for sale and Lloyd may be contacted at .  He may even be able to quote you for a new JR soon.  I trust all Allard enthusiasts will want to wish the Allard family every success with their projects.  Sydney, I feel sure, would be proud to know that his legacy is being rekindled by his son and grandson.

With the Palm Beach occupying centre stage we placed two 42” TVs at each end of the stand between the J series display cars. On these we played a variety of videos of Allards in action on track, hill and rallying. For these images I managed to acquire footages from many people from Allard Owners Club members and The Allard Register and managed to edit out enough material for two DVDs which together last for over 4 hours. Thank you to all who helped with this and I have credited you all ( I hope ) on the DVDs.

DVD 1 features footage from 1950 to the seventies and includes UK and American hillclimbs and road races, The Monte Carlo Rally and 1953 Le Mans.

DVD 2 is of more recent track events with exciting action at The Monaco Historique and Monterey.

DVD 2 created the most interest and had the aisles packed with viewers dumbstruck by Graham Smith’s drive at Monterey earlier this year. They couldn’t believe the way he ploughed his way through the pack in Steve Schuler’s J2, the one which Sydney drove to third place in the 1950 Le Mans.

Saturday evening we were invited by Classic and Sportscar to their annual prizegiving at the Hilton Hotel.  This event is set up to award those cars, car owners, clubs and individuals who make up so much of our world of Classic Cars.  In 2011 our vice president Mike Knapman received an award for his work on the club newsletter and James Smith and Darell and Jenny Allard and I waited to see whether we would get anything this year. We were all delighted to hear reference to our stand and whilst a little disappointed that we didn’t get first prize in our category for medium sized clubs, we were very pleased to be runner up in second place.  The magazine’s editor, Mick Walsh, did say to me when he visited the stand on the Friday that his opinion was not always the way the final vote went.

One problem we experienced really upset our captain Dave Loveys.  Dave in his usual generous and enthusiastic way had offered to pick up a covered race car trailer, collect the Palm Beach from the Allard’s works and transport it to the show and then do the whole thing again in reverse after the event.

Dave and Lloyd arrived, unloaded the car from the trailer and brought it into the hall. Dave then went out to unhitch the trailer from his Land Rover which he needed to bring in to offload a Cadillac 331 engine Lloyd had prepared to display on the stand.

In the 20 minutes between unhitching the trailer, dropping the engine on the stand from the Land Rover and returning to the trailer it had been stolen. None of us could believe the audacity of the thieves who stole it from what is supposed to be a secure area in such a short time.

The organisers, security and police were informed and for the whole of the weekend we were all anxious. I am delighted to tell you that the day after the event the trailer was recovered by Lloyd after the police had managed to locate it in Sutton Coldfield.

Every event like this requires so much effort by so many people and I would like to thank all those members who agreed to show their cars, those members (and their wives) who helped build and dismantle the stand and man it over the three days.  It can be very tiring but I think we all agreed most enjoyable and rewarding.

If you would like to see Graham Clark’s video footage of our stand and his interview with Cyril Wick then look up “Allard Stand at The Classic Motor Show 2013” on Youtube.

I’m now thinking about our next event which is likely to be at Event City, Manchester in March and then the NEC again next year. The two day show in Manchester is at Event City which is adjacent to the amazing Trafford Centre with its millions of shops and restaurants.  We all loved it last year and now know all the best places to eat after the show closes in the evening. Reasonable hotels on the same site also. More details to follow in Tailwagger soon.

If you would be willing to show your Allard in March at Manchester then please, please contact me.  Any Allard, any condition even projects or barn finds, the visitors and organisers love them. 

[The Allard Register would like to extend a special thank you to Mel Herman and those in the AOC who assisted in putting together this amazing display...along with the detailed witeup and photos...great job!]