In 1929 Sydney Herbert Allard began working in the Adlards Motors garage, an official Ford dealer, preparing racers for international motor racing. His Allard Specials quickly proved their potential and Allards reputation began to build. After racing motorcycles and three-wheeled Morgan's, he began racing four-wheeled vehicles. During World War II, the Allard Motor Company repaired military vehicles. Though their duties kept them very busy, Allard still found time to design and build sports cars.
In 1936 the first Allard Special, commonly referred to as the CLK5 because of its registration number, had been created using Ford products. It sat atop a Ford 40 chassis, outfitted with a Ford flat-head V8 engine, and given a Bugatti Type 51 body. The cockpit was pushed back as far as possible with much of the weight resting on the rear wheels. The lightweight construction and ample ground clearance made the Allard Special a formidable opponent on the racing circuit. This success translated to increased interest in a production version of the Special. Prior to World War II, a few Specials were created that were powered by the Ford V8 or a Lincoln V12. The flat-head engine and its manifold design was its Achilles heal, which often overheated at high speeds. Nevertheless, the Specials continued to be highly competitive, though produced in limited numbers.
After World War II, Allard introduced the J1. Under the hood was a 3.6 liter Ford V8 engine matted to a three-speed manual gearbox. The engine continued to suffer from overheating problems and was criticized as being underpowered. The front suspension was a split axle with a live axle in the rear. Transverse leaf springs were also used in the front and rear. The J1 carried a full body with removable wings which could be replaced with cycle fenders, leaving the J1 prepared for road and track. In total there were twelve examples of the J1 produced.
The J1 was quickly followed by the K1, a two-seater sports car. Produced in larger quantities, the K1 was profitable and provided means in which to continue their race car creations.
The next iteration of the Allard race cars was the J2, introduced in 1950 and designed similar to its J1 sibling. The transverse leaf springs of the J1 were replaced with coils and the live axle was changed in favor of a De Dion setup. The engine was moved even further back putting extra weight on the rear tires, a design Allard continued to favor. The Ford side-valve V8 was the engine of choice however a variety of engines were used including Cadillac's pushrod V8 and Chrysler's HEMI.
A year later the J2X was introduced which was nearly identical to the J2 but had its engine moved forward providing more cockpit room. The J2X Le Mans and JR were enclosed bodies and the final iteration of the J2 racer.
Sydney Allards greatest appearance at a sporting event came in 1950 when he and Tom Cole drove a J2, powered by a Cadillac engine, to a first in class victory and third overall finish at the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans race. This was truly an impressive accomplishment and a testament to the abilities of the automobile. The Allard J1, J2, and J2X racers have dominated racing on many continents and continue to provide stiff competition in modern Historic sporting events.
In 1959 Allard was forced to cease production due to financial difficult and rising competition from other marquees. A total of 1908 Allards had been constructed.Source: Allard Motor Works