Sold for $341,000 at 2007 RM Sothebys
Sold for $605,000 at 2013 RM Sothebys
Sydney Herbert Allard would mark his return to motor racing during the post-World War II era with a powerful and cacophonous four rear wheel special powered by a Steyr V8 tank engine. However, by the 1950s Allard would be making a reputation for himself in the sportscar ranks. One of the most famous of these would be the JR 'Le Mans' Roadster.
Allard first applied himself to hill climbs and speed trials in the years prior to World War II. However, he would also take part in a sportscar race here and there using his own specially-built car. One race in particular, the 3 Hours of Brooklands, Allard would finish a respectable 9th place.
Then, following the end of the Second World War, Allard would return to hill climbing for a while before trying his hand in sportscar racing. Driving his own creation in the National Silverstone in June of 1949, Allard would come away with a fine 3rd place finish. A couple of months later, at the National Goodwood, Allard would come away victorious in his own 4.4-liter Allard chassis.
Despite being built by a small manufacturing effort, the Allard would become a rather popular chassis with privateers and would lead to a number of good results for the Allard. Allard, himself, would not settle with what he had already created. Instead, he would continue to improve and look to new ways in which he could build a car to compete with some of the other top manufacturers of the time.
Turning the corner and heading into the 1950s, Allard would find his greatest opportunity. In the United States, there would be a surplus of engines, such as the Cadillac and Hemi V8. Allard had become an absolute genius at putting together parts to make them work as one. Allard would design and build the chassis and bodies, and then, would mix and match parts to make the designs work. One of those that would really put Allard on the map would be the J2 sports racing car.
Designed and built in the very early 1950s, the J2 sports car would become popular and success mostly due to the Cadillac engines powering the chassis. This combination would go on to earn a most impressive 3rd place overall finish and a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950.
The J2 design had its short-comings, especially when it came to braking and handling. However, the power produced by the Cadillac engine more than made up for the car's troubles and made it a potent competitor. In fact, the Allard would go on to score a great deal of success in North America despite battling Ferraris, Jaguars and other such potent sportscars.
Following the J2, Allard designed the J2X. This particular model represented an improvement on the J2, but would not necessarily represent an improvement in the area of looks. And that was the way of the Allard. Boasting of heart-pounding power and performance, the Allard would certainly not be classified as the most beautiful of machines, but it had the power to compete.
This lack of beauty would actually prove to be the downfall of the J2X and the impetus behind the very special JR bodywork. The J2X was a step up from the J2. However, it still utilized cycle-style fenders which actually aided to slow the car down on the longer circuits like Le Mans. Therefore, Allard needed to come up with a solution to this issue. He had the power, he needed to design and build a car that didn't impede it. Therefore, the JR would be born.
While truly a J2X all throughout, the JR would sport one important difference. Instead of the cycle-style fenders that had been a part of the J2 and the J2X, the JR would sport a fully-enveloped body style that would help with the aerodynamics and the car, and therefore, would not impede the car's potential top speed.
Only a total of seven of these JRs would be ever built and two would serve as factory entries in the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of these two, the one piloted by Sidney himself, would actually lead the first lap of the 1953 Le Mans. Unfortunately, the speed would not be matched by endurance as Allard's chassis would retire from the race before even completing an hour.
The sister-car, chassis number 3403, would be driven by Zora Arkus Duntov, the father of the Corvette, and Ray Merrick. These two men would manage to get 3403 to last until about 1am when it would be forced to retire with engine. However, while it was running, the car certainly didn't lack speed as it would be noted the car achieved a speed of 145.35 mph down the Mulsanne.
And, it is this particular chassis, 3403, that is being offered at the 2013 RM Auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Following its unfortunate departure from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 3403 would leave Europe in rather grand fashion accompanying none other than General Cutis LeMay to the United States when he took on the role as the head of the Strategic Air Command.
While in the United States, 3403 would take part in a number of SCCA events, even those held at SAC bases. During LeMay's time as the head of Strategic Air Command he was known to be very strict when it came to base security and discipline, but, when he wanted his Allard to compete it appears as though there were absolutely no problems for SAC bases to host races.
While in LeMay's possession, 3403 would be driven by Colonel Reade Tilley and Fred Wacker. The car would compete in races for a handful of years, but then, would fall out of sight and would remain inactive for a period of nearly 20 years.
Michael Knowles, of the UK, would come to purchase the car paying more than £3,000 for it. Knowles would own the car for a handful of years before Gordon Keller, of Palo Alto, purchased it.
Keller would not merely purchase the car to have it sit around. Instead, he would have the car thoroughly prepared for vintage racing and would end up taking part in a number of events up and down the west coast of California. Throughout this period of time, the greatest achievement the car would earn in the vintage races would be a 2nd place at the 1981 Monterey Historics.
This success no doubt helped Syd Silverman's interest in the car. He would come to purchase 3403 from Keller in 1982 and would promptly have the car shipped to the east coast. Silverman wouldn't just ship the car to the east coast. He would also commission a total restoration of the car as well. Completed by D&J Automotive of Dublin, Ohio, the car would then take part in a number of years of vintage racing.
The years of vintage racing would lead to some recurring problems, including some overheating. These persistent problems would lead to the car undergoing yet another total restoration, this time completed by J. Harden's Vintage Connection of Oklahoma City.
The work would be done and the problems cured in time for the car to be reunited with its sister car in 1990 as part of a special Allard gathering at Monterey. The two cars would go on from there and would both complete the Colorado Grand that same year.
Returning to the vintage racing scene following the restoration, the car would remain with Silverman a couple more years until the previous owner came to purchase the car in 2001. The car would remain with the previous owner until 2007 when the current owner came to own the car.
As it did in 2007, the car comes complete with numerous spare parts, a number of original components; including the original bonnet, logbooks, a correct and original quick-change rear end and numerous other parts and spares.
Still fitted with its original Le Mans fuel tank and having had two total restorations, the Allard JR 3403 still looks and drives as it did when Mr. Corvette was powering it down the Mulsanne at incredible speeds.
Properly maintained and remaining in vintage race condition, the Allard's next owner will still have the pleasure of feeling the excitement and the emotions of a time gone by, when Le Mans and motor racing was still a rather innocent event, full of passion and mystique.
Complete with a 350 bhp, 365 cu.in. Cadillac V8 with dual four-barrel carburetors and a four-speed transmission, 3403 is certainly a rare breed of sportscar car. Just one of seven every built, just one of two factories entries at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans and complete in the British Racing Green livery, the 1953 Allard JR 'Le Mans' Roadster is certainly exceptional in many ways. And, as a result of the car's credentials, estimates prior to the auction have the car earning between $350,000 and $450,000.Sources:
'Lot No. 115: 1953 Allard JR 'Le Mans' Roadster', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ13&CarID=r121&fc=0). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ13&CarID=r121&fc=0. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
'1953 Allard JR News, Pictures and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z14668/Allard-JR.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z14668/Allard-JR.aspx. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
'Allard J2X Le Mans', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/2269/Allard-J2X-Le-Mans.html). Ultimatecarpage.com: Powered by Knowledge, Driven by Passion. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/2269/Allard-J2X-Le-Mans.html. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
'Drivers: Sydney Allard/Archive', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/driver/archive/Sydney-Allard-GB.html). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/driver/archive/Sydney-Allard-GB.html. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
'Complete Archive of Allard', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/make/archive/Allard.html). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/make/archive/Allard.html. Retrieved 14 January 2013.By Jeremy McMullen
England based Sidney Herbert Allard was a magician when it came to working with, and creating, automobiles and parts. In the mid-1930s he demonstrated his prowess by creating successful trial machines from a collection of Ford and Bugatti parts. in 1949 he captured a National British Hill Climb Championship with a car powered by a war-surplus V8 Steyr tank engine.
The Allard Motor Company was founded in the post-War era in 1946 with many of the vehicles leaving the plant under American Ford flathead V8 power. Accompanying them were Sidney's own upgrades such as intake manifolds and cylinder heads. As the 1950s got into full swing, Cadillac and Chrysler began producing suitable OHV V8 engines. With these powerplants he created the J2X and JR sports racing models.
An Allard J2 sports racing car was given Cadillac power and entered in the 1950 Tour of Sicily. Later it was entered in the grueling 24 Hours of Lemans where it managed an impressive third overal finish.
The cars he built were modern day Hot Rods. Some called the beautiful other considered them brutal. They were purpose built machines that had the power to keep them in the front of the pack. The sports racing cars featured alloy bodywork, cycle fenders, and knock-off mounted wire wheels. Straight line speed was not a problem; cornering was a bit difficult due to its semi-independent setup; braking and handling were their biggest issues. None-the-less, they were fast enough to score major overall race results at Watkins Glen, Pebble Beach, Sebring, LeMans and Monte Carlo.
The LeMans circuit favored the aerodynamic cars. For this, Allard created the streamlined JR model in 1953. They were mechanically identical to the J2-X but given different bodies. There were only seven JR models ever created with two serving as factory entries at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1953.
One of the entries was driven by Zora Arkus-Duntov, commonly known as the 'father of the Corvette.' The other car was driven by Sidney himself, who led the first lap of the race. He was forced to retire prematurely after less than hour due to a cracked brake drum. The other car raced until 1:00 AM before it withdrew due to engine problems. It did manage a speed of 145.35 miles per hour on the Mulsanne Straight.
These Allard JR racing machines were the ultimate Hot Rods, featuring large powerplants and an attractive body, proving there is no substitute for displacement. This 1953 Allard JR Cadillac 'Le Mans' Roadster is chassis number 3403 (NLN 650) and is one of seven JRs constructed. It was raced at LeMans where it was piloted by Zora Arkus-Duntov. After LeMans it was sent to America with General Curtis LeMay and later entered in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing. Other notable drivers include Colonel Reade Tilley and Fred Wacker.
After a prosperous racing career, the car returned back to England where it remained inactive for 20 years. It was later purchased at auction in 1977. It passed to another owner residing in California. Shortly thereafter, it was entered in various West Coast racing events. In 1981 it achieved a second plate at the 1981 Monterey Historics.
It was purchased by Syd Silverman in 1982 and treated to a total restoration. It was raced for a few more seasons and then treated to another restoration.
In 2007 the car was offered for sale at the Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it had an estimated value of $350,000 - $450,000. Considering its pedigree and racing history, it was considered an excellent investment for the future and an opportunity to be eligible for vintage competition in numerous historic racing events. The lot was sold for $341,000 including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007