1952 Allard J2X
- The Allard Motor Company was formed by trials specialist Sydney Herbert Allard in 1945 when he set up and built a series of sporting Ford V-8 engined cars at premises in Clapham, South London.
The very light and thus quick J2 two-seater emerged at the turn of the ‘50s, the export-market models using essentially a 3.9-litre ohv Ardun-Mercury engine until Anglo-American privateer Tom Cole ordered his J2 with a 5.4-litre Cadillac V-8 transforming the performance. Further Chrysler V-8s and/or the Oldsmobile Rocket engines could also be specified.
Some criticism of the original J2 split-beam front suspension and steering led Allard to redesign the front-end and which resulted in the engine being moved forward and with cockpit leg room increased by some 7 inches. These new chassis took the moniker J2X with the prototype chassis # 2180 completed in mid-1951. Thereafter, a total of 83 of the Allard J2X were produced, powered by a wide variety of alternative engines, the final machine recorded being chassis # 3214 and delivered to the USA in November 1954.
The vast majority of Allards were mainly intended for export to what was, at that time, the highly lucrative and enthusiastic US market. With their very rugged construction and relatively inexpensive running costs, not to mention distinctive looks coupled with tremendous performance, they quickly built an enviable roster of successes in the formative years of American road racing. Famous Allard racing drivers were to be Phil Hill, Carrol Shelby, Masten Gregory, Paul O’Shea, Bill Pollack and the founder Sydney Allard who all raced competitively in the USA in period through the early 1960s.
The car presented is Chassis Number # 3037 and is an exception as it was an original USA export J2X but appears not to have been raced in period. The Allard Registry are presently unsure to whom the car was sold new but very early on ownership changed hands passing into well-known radio and talk show host Joe Pyne (who anecdotally pioneered the art of being sharp-tongued and argumentative with his guests, a style still adopted today).
Pyne was also a World War II veteran and who had lost a leg during the hostilities; in order to drive the J2X he had fitted a Hydra-Matic automatic transmission and cut away a small portion of the dashboard to ease access. Originally from the Pennsylvania / Delaware area, Pyne moved to Los Angeles and was said to have been a regular sight in the Hollywood area often commuting to work in his cherished Allard.
By the early 1960s the car had joined the collection of Sterling Dietz, also from the Los Angeles area and who was at the time a pioneering salad market producer. Dietz drove the Allard only occasionally before he moved to Porterville, California when he switched his farming to citrus crops. Thus for very many years the Allard was stored in a farm shed on his property and although he commenced a restoration process in 1976 only slight progress was made.
Several Allard enthusiasts tried in vain to purchase # 3071 from him but he gifted the car to his son Mr. Brian Dietz in the mid-1990s. He decided that 3037 should best be restored by the leading specialists at The Vintage Connection in Oklahoma City and in the very capable hands of John Harden, Crane Eveland and Chris Campbell. Before leaving its slumber, Chris Warnes from The Allard Registry was invited down to the Dietz farm in September 1996 to help prepare the car for transportation. Chris later wrote an article in the Registry recounting the history of # 3037 and in so doing, nicknamed it as The Citrus Orchard J2X.
During its 20-month restoration from 1996 - 1998 at The Vintage Connection it was upgraded where necessary for both vintage racing and reliable rally participation. Chris Campbell has recently confirmed to us that they fitted a rebuilt 331 cu in Cadillac V-8 engine with 390 heads and modified for full flow oil filtering, an oil cooler, a mild camshaft, Vertex magneto, custom modified oil pan, Edelbrock 4x2 manifold, Holley 2100 carburetors and custom tubular headers.
Further, the transmission they installed is a Borg Warner Super T-10 ‘x’ ratio with an aluminum flywheel and conventional clutch. The rear differential is an upgraded Jaguar E-Type unit with limited slip and 3.73 ratio. A custom brass radiator was fitted with a pusher electric fan on the front, custom front and rear bumpers and a custom Fuel Safe 15 gallon fuel cell. The brake master cylinders were upgraded via a cleverly hidden (beneath the floorboards) updated dual master system adapted from a Tilton bias bar setup with hydraulic clutch. Much stronger than stock upgraded rear wheel bearing hubs ‘Harden Hubs’ were also fitted along with modified stronger front spindles. Single adjustable Koni shock absorbers and new chrome wire wheels were also added.
Great care was taken to preserve the original bodywork and every piece of hardware from major components to fasteners was re-used wherever possible. The original high full width windscreen was not fitted and instead small aero screens were made; currently the car sports a larger screen temporarily added for touring purposes. The original instruments were restored while a new handmade engine-turned dash was installed.
Upon completion its debut was appropriately at the Fabulous Fifties Association annual barbecue gala (sadly no longer an event) at the famed Bothwell Ranch in Southern California held on one of the very last remaining surviving and working citrus ranches nestled among the urban sprawl of the San Fernando Valley.
Some 20 years ago # 3037 joined its current East Coast-based collection with many other sports racing cars; it has seen occasional use since, such as the 2016 edition of the California Mille Miglia. 3037 is on the button, being regularly started and checked over.
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