Allard J2: Tom Hawkes: Collingrove Hillclimb 1952…

Graham Smith

Tom Hawkes caresses his powerful Allard around the twisty, challenging gravel confines of South Australia’s Collingrove Hillclimb at its inaugural, public, 15 March 1952 meeting…1st in the over 1500cc Sports Car class. (State Library of South Australia)

Tom Hawkes caresses his powerful Allard around the twisty, challenging gravel confines of South Australia’s Collingrove Hillclimb at its inaugural, public, 15 March 1952 meeting…1st in the over 1500cc Sports Car class. (State Library of South Australia)

Chassis #99/J/1731 fitted with Ford Pilot engine # 5338/26 was the first of 6 Allards imported to Australia, the car arrived in September 1950 to Rube Gardner’s order. Gardner was appointed the local concessionaire having travelled to the UK to do the deal with Allard himself early in 1950. Gardner’s premises were on the Princes Highway, Carlton, a southern Sydney suburb.

Gardner drove the car to the October 1950 Bathurst meeting. He didn’t race, but took it to Mount Panorama for display purposes. The red painted, side valve Ford Pilot engined car immediately impressed Stan Jones, the 1959 Gold Star and Australian Grand Prix Winner and father of 1980 World Champion Alan Jones.

Stan was well aware of the car’s competition record in the UK and US and bought it on his inexorable rise to the top of Australian Motor Racing. I wrote an article about Stan’s career, click on this link to read it; http://primotipo.com/2014/12/26/stan-jones-australian-and-new-zealand-grand-prix-and-gold-star-winner/

The J2 in the Bathurst paddock during Stan Jones ownership at Easter 1951. Color red, ‘standard’ Ford Pilot side-valve spec V8. 5 of the 6 J2’s imported to Australia entered this meeting,3 started! (Ray Eldershaw Collection)

The J2 in the Bathurst paddock during Stan Jones ownership at Easter 1951. Color red, ‘standard’ Ford Pilot side-valve spec V8. 5 of the 6 J2’s imported to Australia entered this meeting,3 started! (Ray Eldershaw Collection)

Jones first J2 competition event was the 1950 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Rob Roy in November, he finished 2nd in his class. In 1951 he raced the car successfully at Rob Roy, at Bathurst he was timed at 104.8mph on ConRod Straight, and at other meetings.

Jones sold the car to Geelong, Victoria, driver  Tom Hawkes in a deal which involved Jones taking over a Cooper MkV 500 Bill Patterson and Hawkes had raced in England in 1951.

Hawkes raced the car in standard form for a while and then engaged Melbourne’s Ern Seeliger to modify it by fitment of an Ardun OHV engine kit and Jaguar 4 speed gearbox with ‘C Type’ ratios, to replace the 3 speed Ford Pilot ‘box.

The tail of the Allard was replaced with a narrower one, the front and rear guards removed and wire wheels adapted to Lancia hubs fitted. The light car now developed circa 300bhp. It was a formidable, noisy and spectacular weapon at the time.

Hawkes ahead of Eldred Norman’s Maserati 6CM at Adelaide’s Sellicks Beach. This meeting in 1953 was the first all car beach program post-War. Sellicks Beach 55 Km from Adelaide. Tom is kicking the tail out, no shortage of power on the soft sand! Eldred Norman and his many cars are fascinating stories for another time. (forum.fefcholden.club)

Hawkes ahead of Eldred Norman’s Maserati 6CM at Adelaide’s Sellicks Beach. This meeting in 1953 was the first all car beach program post-War. Sellicks Beach 55 Km from Adelaide. Tom is kicking the tail out, no shortage of power on the soft sand! Eldred Norman and his many cars are fascinating stories for another time. (forum.fefcholden.club)

Over the next couple of years the J2 competed widely, mainly driven by Hawkes but occasionally by Reg Robbins who maintained it. It was also driven by John Sawyer and Adrian Gundlach. The car raced at Fishermans Bend, in Albert Parks inaugural meeting in 1953 and Rob Roy, all in Victoria. Hawles competed at Collingrove Hillclimb, Sellicks Beach and Port Wakefield in South Australia.

He travelled to New Zealand for the 1954 NZ Grand Prix meeting at Ardmore in January. There the car blew the OHV engine in practice, a stone pierced the radiator with the side valve engine fitted for the race, famously won by Stan Jones in the Maybach. The J2’s Ford engine was brittle and ‘popped’ comprehensively at least 3 times, twice with rod failure, the errant component carving the cast iron block in half on both occasions.

The J2 was quick, it recorded 137 mph on Longfords ‘Flying Mile’ during the 1955 Tasmanian Trophy meeting. Hawkes advertised # 1731 for sale in October 1955 but continued to race it. The car was finally bought by Reg Robbins who had been preparing the car for Hawkes as noted above. He raced it at Phillip Island and Rob Roy in late 1956 and early 1957 respectively before sale to Geoff McHugh in Tasmania.

Melbourne’s Ian McDonald repatriated it from a Tasmanian ‘chook shed’ in 1964, he restored it, a process which took 2 years. He first raced the car in an historic event at an open meeting at Sandown in 1966.

The car has passed through numerous sets of caring hands since then and is still in Australia.

The Hawkes Allard in the Collingrove paddock March 1952. The modifications referred to in the text are not yet evident, this is early in Hawkes ownership of the car. Compare with the other later Collingrove shot below and the Sellicks Beach shot above where the car is running sans guards and with the wire wheels referred to in the text. (State Library of SA)

The Hawkes Allard in the Collingrove paddock March 1952. The modifications referred to in the text are not yet evident, this is early in Hawkes ownership of the car. Compare with the other later Collingrove shot below and the Sellicks Beach shot above where the car is running sans guards and with the wire wheels referred to in the text. (State Library of SA)

This later Collingrove shot in 1954 shows the Hawkes J2 in its later modified form; with Ardun head, ‘skinny tail’, sans guards front and rear and with its wire wheels. (State Library of SA)

This later Collingrove shot in 1954 shows the Hawkes J2 in its later modified form; with Ardun head, ‘skinny tail’, sans guards front and rear and with its wire wheels. (State Library of SA)

Butt shot showing the Hawkes J2’s modified tail, fuzzy shot but modifications clear; #1731 sans guards, wire wheels. On ‘The Wall’. (Collingrove Hillclimb)

Butt shot showing the Hawkes J2’s modified tail, fuzzy shot but modifications clear; #1731 sans guards, wire wheels. On ‘The Wall’. (Collingrove Hillclimb)

Graham is the current caretaker of J2-1731. The car has been restored and is actively raced in Australia. The car retains Ford power, albeit with a set of ARDUN heads.