The experience of searching one’s way through Sunday morning pre-dawn fog, curves and pines of Pebble Beach is somewhat surreal. At times the only connection with the real world seemed to be the intermittent signals from random flashlights that eventually directed us to our parking lot. The experience gave us a special appreciation for the diligent efforts of hundreds of employees and volunteers who had been on duty half the night.
Our goal was to arrive at the Del Monte Lodge before the first of the Pebble Beach Concours entrants began to chug, purr or roar their way from the Polo Grounds to their designated spots on Pebble Beach’s 18th fairway overlooking Carmel Bay and Point Lobos. The low overcast sky and moderate temperatures were a photographer’s and spectator’s dream.
Peter and Robin Briggs from City Beach, Western Australia presented their freshly restored white, blue-trimmed Allard J1. Monterey area car fans were first introduced to this Mercury-powered supercharged Allard when it, along with 100+ other Concours entrants, completed Thursday’s Tour d’Elegance. That tour concluded by treating the general pubic to a two-hour display on Carmel’s Ocean Avenue.
According to Peter, this was the only Allard he could find in Western Australia to represent the marque at his museum back in 1979. He was later to learn that this particular ’46 Allard J1 was originally owned and raced by Jim Appleton. It was one of the three Candidi Provacatore (White Challenger) team cars that effectively established the Allard name in UK road trials in 1947. A more detailed history of the car and its restoration is available online at http://www.blurb.com/books/2287797.
The Monterey Peninsula’s ‘Car Week’ officially begins with on Tuesday with Carmel’s Concours on the Avenue. This year found not one, but two Allards on display. The first was one of the seven Allard JR’s. This particular car is now a part of the Mallya Collection and is housed in Sausalito CA. We were pleasantly surprised to see Martin Allard, who recently moved to the Monterey area, displaying his very original green, Cad-powered K3. Our last opportunity to visit with Martin and admire his K3 was back in 1990 when it helped to inspire another K3 owner to get rolling on his long-term project.
Just to put things in perspective, the Monterey Peninsula hosted no fewer than eight car shows and five auctions over the next five days. The first of two Allards sold at RM Auction was a nicely finished green Cad-powered K2 with a deDion rear end that went for $100+K. The second was a flathead-powered 1948 M-type that brought $60+K.
2011 turned out to be the second consecutive year that race fans at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (RMMR) did not have a chance to see Allards racing out at Laguna Seca. However, we did enjoy visiting with several other Allard owners including Lindsey Parsons, Bob Weiner, Bernard Dervieux, Ron Hale, Al Reynolds, Matt Grebe and Alan & Celia Tiley. We also had a nice chat with one avid vintage racer who recently purchased three Allards. He has definite plans to enter one of his J2X’s in 2012.
RMMR announced that their featured marque for 2012 is Cobra – celebrating the 50 years since the introduction of that icon on the sports car scene. We do hope that the organizers are aware of Allard’s seminal role in the Cobra’s development, and will take steps to assure that a few Allards will be present and running in the 2012 event.
Oh, one interesting sidelight – this year eleven vintage dragsters were on display on Laguna Seca’s infield. This included seven front-engine Top Fuel dragsters firing up simultaneously during two “cacklefests” on Saturday. As Brian Taylor and the Allard Chrysler Dragster Action Group are nearing completion of Sydney’s Hemi-powered dragster, we like to speculate that this dragster might participate at a future event.
Over-saturation can be a risk for ‘Car week’ aficionados. One cheap (translated – free) and convenient antidote to such an ailment is Saturday’s whimsical Concours d’LeMons in nearby Seaside CA. This is a display of weird and oddball makes and battered 24 Hours d’LeMons gladiators, along with myriad manifestations of bad taste.
Winner of this years’ Most Dangerous award was a dual-engine ’53 Studebaker Hawk which evoked recollection of Sydney Allard’s experimental twin-engine Special (photos on pp. 184 & 186 of Tom Lush’s book). However in this case the two engines were hooked in tandem. The front engine was a Chevy smallblock, mismatched to a Chrysler-product Hemi. Each engine had its own GMC 6-71 blower.