Allard Motor Works – Allard J2X Mark 1. Type: Two-seat open roadster. Power: V8 (GM or Chrysler). Price: $90,000. Available: Summer, 2003. Click image to enlarge
by Paul Williams
A Canadian connection is bringing new life to the Allard J2X, a brawny two-seater with a big engine and a bigger personality.
The original J2X was produced between 1951 and 1954 in England. Company founder Sydney Allard built the cars (among other models) and shipped most of them to the US where they typically received Cadillac or Chrysler Hemi V8 engines. Thus equipped, the mighty roadsters hit the racetrack, where strong men with clenched teeth and white knuckles wrestled the big cars to frequent victory or magnificent losses.
They became, all 83 of them, legendary.
Montreal-based Roger Allard, surprisingly no relation to Sydney, discovered his namesake cars on a trip to England six years ago. While many people would be “chuffed,” as they say in England, at the coincidence of a car bearing one’s surname, for Roger Allard it was an epiphany. In his mind there was nothing for it but to revive the Allard J2X. Not simply to copy it, but to build car number 84 and beyond. Mr. Allard, a mild-mannered but busy communications consultant, became an even busier man with a mission.
Roger Allard and the Allard J2X Mark 1
The racing green J2X he recently brought to the Ottawa International Autoshow is what he has in mind. It’s a test car used to try different technologies and to gauge public reaction. So far he has expressions of interest from people in Europe, the US and Canada.
Like so many “milestone” cars, the J2X has a distinctive look. In the tradition of early Mustangs, the Jaguar XK-E, the original Mini and the Porsche 911, the Allard J2X has an instantly recognizable and pleasing shape.
“As far as appearance goes, I’m leaving it just the way it is,” says Mr. Allard. “We’ve made some mechanical changes and invisible modifications to the body to shorten the turning circle, but people come up to me and think this is a fully restored original. It’s very gratifying.”
Mr. Allard has been working with the Allard Registry and the Allard Owners Club to preserve the legitimacy of the new vehicles.
The display car, however, along with the jigs and moulds to build it, was purchased from a company in California, now defunct. Mr. Allard’s intention was simply to build more cars from the original patterns, and go from there.
But hand-building one or two cars is a lot different from producing 100 cars per year. To do that, the tolerances have to be exact, the car has to meet safety requirements, and a high level of quality and precision must be repeatable for each vehicle. So, scrap the original jigs and moulds, redesign them and the mechanicals, and start over. Lesser men would have given up.
“It had to be done,” said Mr. Allard. “If I wanted the car to be properly accredited by the Allard Registry, to be regarded as an actual Allard with a legitimate serial number, that’s what it took.”
After three years of development, the first two pre-production Allard Motor Works (AMW) Allard J2Xs, are scheduled for delivery at the end of April, 2003. Mr. Allard’s decided to call them, and subsequent production cars, the J2X Mark 1.
They’re being built by SLP Canada in Lachine, Quebec, formerly the builder of the Camaro SS and Firebird Firehawk until the retirement of those cars in 2002. SLP is building the production models as well.
Although the overall appearance is largely unchanged, the J2X Mark 1 will feature a redesigned chassis, revised suspension, improved cockpit layout, improved safety (impact bars, crumple zones, internal roll bars, over-sized brakes) and improved ride due to the use of adjustable shocks, and an independent front and rear suspension.
There are no anti-lock brakes, traction control systems or digital readouts planned for the J2X Mark 1. But the modern Dayton wire wheels are bolt-on, rather than fitted with splined hubs like the original, and the side pipes contain catalytic convertors.
“If it’s a safety or emissions issue, then I’ve no problem with making changes,” explains Mr. Allard. “In the case of the wheels, the torque of the motor would be too much for the original hubs, so we’ll use the five-bolt pattern on a wheel that looks like the original.”
Buyers can choose the engine, but a typical powerplant is expected to be the fuel injected GM RamJet 350 V8 making 420 horsepower and over 400 lb.-ft torque. Mr. Allard expects some orders will, like the original, specify a Chrysler Hemi or Cadillac V8, although they’d be modern versions. The car is expected to sell for $90,000.
Mr. Allard fully expects that owners will want to try the car on the track, just as they did 50 years ago. He’s building the vehicle with that in mind.
Plans are underway for an optional hardtop, and a range of accessories. A version with a full-length windshield is in the works. Mr. Allard expects to manufacture some hard-to-find items that can also be used on original Allards.
Piqued your interest? You can contact Roger Allard at 1-877-J2X-1953, or online at allardj2x.com