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Allard Motor Company Limited was an English car manufacturer founded in 1945 by Sydney Allard which commenced from small premises in south west London. Car manufacture almost ceased within a decade. It produced approximately 1900 cars before his death in 1966. Before the war, Allard supplied some replicas of a Bugatti-tailed special of his own design from Adlards Motors in Putney.
Allards featured large American V8 engines in a light British chassis and body, giving a high power-to-weight ratio and foreshadowing the Sunbeam Tiger and AC Cobra of the early 1960s. Cobra designer Carroll Shelby and father of the Corvette Zora Arkus Duntov both drove Allards in the early 1950s.
The first Allard cars were built specifically to compete in Trials events – timed rally-like events on terrain almost impassable by wheeled vehicles. The first Allard was powered by a Ford flathead V8 in a body mostly sourced from a Bugatti racer. It used the American engine's high torque to great effect in slow-speed competition.
Further Allards were soon built to order with a variety of large, Ford-sourced engines, including Lincoln-Zephyr V12 powerplants. By the outbreak of war in 1939 twelve Allard Specials had been built. Sydney Allard's planned volume production was pre-empted by work on Ford-based trucks during the conflict. By its end, Allard had built up a substantial inventory of Ford parts.
Using its inventory of easy-to-service Ford mechanicals built up during World War II and bodywork of Allard's own design, three post-war models were introduced: the J, a competition sports car; the K, a slightly larger car intended for road use, and the four seater L. Sales were fairly brisk for a low-volume car, and demand was high for cars in general, which led to the introduction of several larger models, the drophead coupe M and P.
Sydney Allard soon saw the potential of the economically more vibrant – but sports car starved – US market and developed a special competition model to tap it, the J2. The new roadster was a potent combination of a lightweight, hand-formed aluminium body fitted with independent front suspension (via swinging arms)and De-Dion type rear axle, inboard rear brakes, and designed for a Ford "flathead" V8. Importing American engines just to ship them back across the Atlantic proved problematic, so US-bound Allards were soon shipped engineless and fitted out in the States variously with newer overhead valve engines by Cadillac, Chrysler, Buick, and Oldsmobile. In that form, the J2 proved a highly competitive international race car for 1950, most frequently powered by 331 cubic inch Cadillac engines. Domestic versions for England came equipped with Ford or Mercury flatheads, some of which were equipped with ARDUN overhead valve hemi heads, a modification designed by Zora ARkus DUNtov, who also later raced for the factory Allard team at Le Mans.
Available both in street trim and stripped down for racing, the J2 proved successful in competition on both sides of the Atlantic, including a third place overall at Le Mans in 1950 (driven by Sydney Allard himself, who also placed first in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952 driving an Allard P1 saloon car). Of 313 documented starts in major races in the 9 years between 1949 and 1957, J2's compiled a list of 40 first place finishes; 32 seconds; 30 thirds; 25 fourths; and 10 fifth place finishes. Both Zora Duntov (the father of the Corvette) and Carroll Shelby (the father of the Cobra) raced J2's in the early 50's. 90 J2's were produced between 1950 and 1952.
In an effort to extend a line growing obsolete in the face of advances in sports car design, Allard introduced an extended model in late 1951, the J2X. In an attempt to improve handling, the front suspension's rear attaching radius rods were redesigned with forward ones, which required a forward cross member and extending the nose out past the front wheels. This, in turn, allowed the engine to be moved forward, yielding more cockpit room. There is much confusion on the internet as to labelling of J2 and J2X types – the most obvious differences being that the J2 nose does not extend past the front tires and has two vents below the grill, while the J2X nose extends past the front tires and usually has a single vent below the grill placed on a more protruding chin. Tom Lush, author of "Allard: The Inside Story" said in the book that the chin was the most obvious difference between the two. In standard form the spare wheel was carried on top of the rear mounted fuel tank however, either version could carry one or two side mounted optional spares this to allow the use of a 40 gallon long distance fuel tank.
The J2X was not as successful in international racing as the J2, as it became less competitive against more advanced Jaguar C and D types, Ferraris, and Maserati works cars it headlined less often in major international races. Of 199 documented starts in major races in the 9 years between 1952 and 1960, J2X's garnered 12 first place finishes; 11 seconds; 17 thirds; 14 fourths; and 10 fifth places.
The 1953 Clipper was an attempt to cash in on the era's burgeoning microcar market. A tiny car glass fibre bodied car powered by a rear mounted 346 cc Villiers twin cylinder motorcycle engine, it claimed to seat three people abreast with room for two children in an optional Dicky seat. About 20 were made.
As research and development picked up at bigger constructors, Allard failed to keep up its former pace and other manufacturers began producing cheaper and more technically advanced cars. Its new 4- and 6-cylinder Palm Beach model, introduced in 1952, was a year behind its competitors, the beautiful new K3 failed to live up to expectations, and the large wood sided P2 Safari Estate could not find a market in spite of its eight seats, huge V8, and beautiful bodywork.
By the mid-fifties Allard was struggling. It attempted to give Dodge dealers a Corvette competitor by rebodying a Palm Beach with a Dodge Hemi engine. Unfortunately, the market was weak due to a late-'50s US recession. Few Allards were produced after 1959, and those only to special order.
Sixties Allards were simply performance-modified British Ford Anglias marketed as the Allardette 105, 109, and 116, using the straight four cylinder Ford Sidevalve engine. Production ended in 1958 when the company became insolvent and had to be liquidated.
In 1966 Sydney Allard passed away on the same night that an arsonist destroyed the Clapham factory and some of the Allard Motor Company factory records. The Allard factory site in Clapham is now a housing co-operative association.
The Allard trademark for manufacturing new cars, UK TM 1479761, was first applied for on 14 October 1991, but was not registered until 24 March 1995, and became Bona vacantia upon the dissolution of Allard Motorsport Ltd on 8 October 1996. It was purchased from Her Majesty's Treasury on 25 September 2012 by Allard Motor Cars Ltd which also applied for Allard Community Trademark EU010965689 on 14 June 2012.
This British-based company was incorporated by the descendants of Sydney Allard and the entrepreneur, Jason Wharton, on 25 August 2011. It is developing a new evolution of the original 1952 Allard J2X Le Mans, which is to be known as the Allard Le Mans, for sale worldwide in 2014. Since April 2012 the company has offered for sale a limited edition run of eight continuation Allard J2, J2X and JR competition cars.
Allard Motor Works, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, builds a 'replica' of the original Allard J2X competition roadster, known as the J2X MkII. It is a hand-crafted modern roadster powered by a fuel-injected American V8.
Allard Sports Cars Ltd was incorporated in 2012 in the UK by auto tuner Alan Allard.
Allard Motor Sport Ltd was incorporated in 2012 in the UK by motor sport enthusiast Lloyd Allard.
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