Using a crashed Ford V8 coupe on to which he had grafted the body from a Grand Prix Bugatti, racing driver Sydney Allard constructed one of the most unlikely of all pre-war trials specials. Nevertheless, the Allard Special's lightweight construction and relatively powerful American V8 engine, although not the first such combination, demonstrated the formula's potential and provided the inspiration for future imitators, including Carroll Shelby who acknowledged Allard's influence on the Cobra.
After WW2, Allard progressed from special-builder to motor manufacturer, though the latter activity was really little more than a means of financing the company's competition programme. Allard's post-war cars combined the same virtues of light weight, independent front suspension and an abundance of American V8 power, which had been features of that first trials special of the mid-1930s. These favourable characteristics enabled Allard to establish a formidable competition record in the immediate post-war years. Despite its small size and limited resources, Allard's achievements were legion, Sydney himself finishing 3rd at Le Mans in a J2 sports-racer and winning the Monte Carlo Rally outright in a P-Type saloon.
Introduced in 1946, the competition-orientated J1 two-seater employed a 100" wheelbase chassis equipped with Allard's trademark independently suspended 'split' front axle and a De Dion rear end with inboard brakes. Like the vast majority of production Allards, the J1 used Ford/Mercury components, these being readily obtainable from Ford in the UK. The K1 tourer was broadly similar apart from its longer wheelbase. In 1950 the latter was superseded by the restyled K2, which together with its more streamlined, all-enveloping bodywork boasted a floor-mounted gear change, coil-sprung front suspension and a small luggage boot among the improvements. UK customers could choose between the usual Ford/Mercury engines while cars bound for the USA were usually fitted with either Cadillac or Chrysler power units.
Being top quality, hand-built British cars with American mechanicals, Allards were very usable and relatively inexpensive to run and maintain. With their powerful and torquey V8 engine, three-speed manual gearbox and high overall gearing, they were fast and exciting cars to drive. Allards were immensely popular in production sports car racing in North America, providing drivers such as Tom Cole, Zora Duntov, John Fitch and Carroll Shelby with numerous successes. Indeed, in 1953 Shelby won every race he entered with his Allard.
This example of one of the most desirable Allards is fitted with a Cadillac V8 engine displacing 331ci (5.4 litres), which is coupled to a La Salle three-speed manual transmission, and thus represents the K2 in its ultimate specification. This tuned engine incorporates a forged steel crankshaft and an Isky racing camshaft with hydraulic lifters, and breathes via a quartet of Stromberg twin-choke carburettors. The maximum power output is reputedly around 300bhp, more than enough to give many modern sports cars a severe fright.
The current, titled vendor purchased the Allard at the Pebble Beach auction in 1991 and took the Allard back to his vineyard in France (one of that country's undisputed finest) where it has been used for driving around the estate. At time of purchase the car had covered only 100 miles since a show-quality restoration by Pat Crowley, a past award winner and judge at Pebble Beach. Finished in grey metallic with red leather interior, this rare Allard sports car remains in excellent condition and is offered with a BCA Rapport d'Expertise (1998) and EU importation/customs document.