Allard J2, Photograph by WritegeistEnlarge Photo
The Allard Motor Company was well ahead of Caroll Shelby’s formula of sticking a powerful American V-8 into a well-handling sports car chassis and body to create ideal power-to-weight ratios. The British company was actually sourcing Ford’s Flathead V-8s for their vehicles nearly 20 years before the Cobra was even conceived.
The company’s namesake was Sydney Allard, who built his first car in the ‘30s. The car, built to compete in off-road Trial events, was more-or-less a Ford V-8 with a Bugatti body. The engine’s high torque and reliability combined with a good chassis proved to be successful, and as inquiries built, a solid business idea. Allard’s company built 12 Ford-powered cars, some with Lincoln Zephyr V-12s, by the time Europe broke out into war.
After the war, production started up in 1946 with the series of two-and-four-seater roadsters and coupes that used Ford and Mercury V-8s and other parts, which sold quite well for a small manufacturer. Unlike most sports cars coming over from Britain, Allard’s use of Ford components proved to be a good one, as regular mechanics could work on them.
In 1950, production began on the J2 Roadster. The car was fitted with an DeDion rear axle and a split-beam front axle that gave the car’s infamous “jacking” attitude when going into corners. The engines choices, thanks to the new chassis and latest American technologies, could now fit in larger, overhead-valve V-8s like Chrysler’s Hemi or the Cadillac Engines. Variations of the J2 were the J2X, with a larger passenger compartment thanks to moving the engine forward, and the J2R, the racing version that included a quick-change rear.
These cars, weighing between 2000 to 2600 pounds depending on engine choice, were unstoppable on the track. In its debut at the 1950 24 Hour of Le Mans, it won third place despite the transmission failing. The car dominated American tracks, like Pebble Beach, as well.
Only 190 J2s and its variations were built between 1950 and 1955 and have become extremely collectible. There is also a company that makes modern replicas of the J2, if you want one but can’t afford the real thing.