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By Tom Porter
When we consider the famous Allard J2X’s, I would suspect that few would associate them with a small auto dealership in St Louis Park MN. But yet, in the spring of 1952, five of the 83 J2X’s produced were delivered to Walker Imported Motors. Three of them were (3057, 3058 and 3060) were all a part of the same shipment arriving on May 24, and were sent to Fond du Lac WI.
There they were turned over to Carl Kiekhaefer to be fitted with specially modified Chrysler 331 hemi engines. Kiekhaefer owned Mercury Marine, manufacturer of Mercury outboard boat motors. He participated in the 1952 and 1953 Carrera Panamericana where he entered hemi-equipped Chrysler Saratogas in ’52, and ran four Chrysler New Yorker Specials in the '53 race. He then moved on to NASCAR where he was the moving force behind the Chrysler 300 NASCAR success story of 1955.
J2X 3058’s Chrysler hemi engine was equipped with a Weiand manifold and twin Carter four-barrel carbs. The car was first sold to Eddie Jones of St. Paul MN. Eddie entered the car in Wisconsin’s Elkhart Lake Road Race in the fall of 1952, carrying the number 9. The car didn't finish the race as the gearbox broke during Saturday’s practice. Evidently the ‘48 Ford Pilot 3 speed box wasn't robust enough to handle the hemi’s torque. The car doesn't appear to have raced again.
My father, Bill Porter, was still in high school when he and my uncle Jim drove the family’s Jaguar XK120 from Milwaukee up to Elkhart Lake. The Jag was entered in the Memorial event, with Air Force pilot Donnie Warren at the wheel. The event went fairly well, but the Jag was out of brakes and filled with hay bale residue when Warren returned it to Bill and Jim. While they were watching the event, they happened to notice an Allard J2X parked next to the Pine Point Resort. They thought it was the coolest thing they had ever seen, and they ended up taking lots of pictures of the car. The hook was set with my old man – someday he was going to own an Allard.
Fast forward to the Milwaukee Hot Rod Show at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in November 1969. My dad and his close friend, Mark Daniels (who at the time owned Maston Gregory’s C-Type Jag), went to the show and came across a cream and blue Allard J2X for sale. The owner, Richard Blaha gave the young men his contact information, and upon leaving the Hot Rod Show, Mark passed the information on to my mother. She subsequently bought the J2X as a surprise for my dad.
Shortly thereafter – while Bill Porter was at work – Mrs. Porter succumbed to the temptation to take the Allard for a ‘little spin’ around the block. She fired it up in the garage, shifted it into reverse, and gave it a little gas as she released the clutch. It immediately squirted out of the garage and proceeded 100 yards across an adjacent meadow before she was able to bring it to a halt. It took her a couple minutes to regain her composure and shift it into first. Releasing the clutch resulted in ‘déjà vu all over again’ before she reigned it to a halt just before crashing into the garage. At that point, she coerced her children to push the car back into its stall and swear to never breath a word of the event to their dad.
Dad, together with us kids, commenced doing some mechanical work on the car, and repainted the Allard in our garage. As we were going through the car, we found handwritten information that mentioned Eddie Jones as the original owner. That made it easy to trace back and find the car’s history, and correlate that information with my dad’s 1952 pictures from Elkhart Lake. We were thus able to verify that this was the #9 Allard, and those photos were very helpful with our restoration.
We have a great black and white picture of my mother and father on the cover of June Sprints Program from the early ‘70’s. I felt pretty cool as a kid being able to ride along with my dad as he and Mark Daniels stormed around Milwaukee’s northern suburbs in our Allard and Mark’s Jag C-Type.
My dad eventually parked the Allard when the keys in the stub axels started to fail. He planned to do a complete restoration, and stripped the car down to the frame, where it sat in the garage until 2002. The biggest reason he didn't restore the Allard sooner was that he had too many other cars and not enough space to properly undertake the project. And of course his law practice and family of six took priority.
During the ensuing years my dad raced the ex-Auto Delta 2 liter Trans Am championship-winning Alfa GTA of Horst Kwech in the C Sedan class from 1974 to 1978. He then bought a TIGA Sports 2000 2 liter car which we still have. He raced this car until 1983 when he bought another TIGA SC83 which I currently vintage race.
Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and the family decided it was time to restore the Allard so that he could have a chance to drive it again. He got to drive the car around the Elkhart Lake road circuit on several occasions in 2005, and it won a reserve award from Road & Track magazine with the car during the racecar concours at the 2005 Kohler International Challenge.
The least I could do for my dad was to give him back this car after all the amazing experiences he had growing up around the cars, circuits and people of road racing. To my knowledge it is one of the most well preserved Allards around. It is completely original, except for the 42 gallon fuel cell inside the original tank. The car has the original hemi engine, Ford transmission and enclosed driveline - along with the original generator and tach drive. We drive the car weekly, and drive it up to Road America at Elkhart Lake 3-4 times per year for various vintage events,.
I now understand and appreciate the Allard Allure and the Grendel Fable!
Special thanks to Joe Oliver for sharing his photos of the Porter J2X. To see more of his work, please visit his web site at www.M-V-Photo.com.
Erwin Goldschmidt was probably one of our favorite Allard racers. Not only was he an outspoken supporter of the Allard marque, but he was extremely competitive. As early as June of 1951, Erwin realized that his 331 Cadillac powered J2 would soon lose out to Chrysler's new 331 Hemi. Desperate for more speed, Erwin wrote the following letter to the Cadillac Engineering Department in order to persuade them to share their latest speed secrets. Click the image below to view the complete letter and the response.
Special thanks again to Barry Burrel for sharing another great find from his father Frank's archives.
We are pleased to announce that the Allard Dragster…Europe’s first dragster is back! Brian Taylor and the loyal team from the Allard Chrysler Action Group have completed the restoration and debuted “Ally” at Dragstalgia @ Santa Pod on July 14. The crowd went crazy when the dragster was fired up for its’ first “cacklelfest”, where a bunch of historic dragsters are lined up and fired up and revved one by one. Click here or the photo below to view the gallery.
Photos by: Mark skinner, Jon Spoard, Ingrid Chesworth, Jamie Mcconnell, Elizabeth Rowland, Dave Rudd
From Brian Taylor...
"OK historians log these details in your book of legends. The date - Sunday July 1st. The place - the workshop at Andy Robinson Race Cars in the UK. The time - 2030 hrs local time. Those present - Andy Robinson, Bob Roberts, Martin Dunks and Brian Taylor. After a long days work and fueled with methanol Sydney Allard's 1961 Allard Chrysler dragster burst into life. The first time since 1964.The sigh...t, sound and smell was amazing. Thanks to all those who have backed us and to an amazing team of people working on the car we have brought drag racing history back to life. There is still plenty of work to do before Brian Golder's original restoration has been complated but nothing that will not wait until after Dragstalgia. We will be able to attend the Cacklefest Ball on the strip on Saturday evening on July 14th and during July 15th and for the first time since 1964 those attending will be able to see and hear the car that started it all in European drag racing terms. Make sure you are there. The start-up was recorded on video and we will release lots more info soon. How did I feel? Relieved, proud and so excited. I didn't sleep much last night just re-running that moment in my mind. Wow."
Congrats to everyone that's working on the restoration...the end is near!