Allard J2 (1950 to 1952)
Sydney Allard soon saw the potential of the economically more vibrant – but sports car starved – US market and developed a special competition model to tap it, the J2.
The new roadster was a potent combination of a lightweight, hand-formed aluminium body fitted with independent front suspension (via swinging arms)and De-Dion type rear axle, inboard rear brakes, and designed for a Ford "flathead" V8. Importing American engines just to ship them back across the Atlantic proved problematic, so US-bound Allards were soon shipped engineless and fitted out in the States variously with newer overhead valve engines by Cadillac, Chrysler, Buick, and Oldsmobile. In that form, the J2 proved a highly competitive international race car for 1950, most frequently powered by 331 cubic inch Cadillac engines.
Domestic versions for England came equipped with Ford or Mercury flatheads, some of which were equipped with ARDUN overhead valve hemi heads, a modification designed by Zora ARkus DUNtov, who also later raced for the factory Allard team at Le Mans.
Available both in street trim and stripped down for racing, the J2 proved successful in competition on both sides of the Atlantic, including a third place overall at Le Mans in 1950 (driven by Sydney Allard himself, who also placed first in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952 driving an Allard P1 saloon car). Of 313 documented starts in major races in the 9 years between 1949 and 1957, J2's compiled a list of 40 first place finishes; 32 seconds; 30 thirds; 25 fourths; and 10 fifth place finishes. Both Zora Duntov (the father of the Corvette) and Carroll Shelby (the father of the Cobra) raced J2's in the early 50's. 90 J2's were produced between 1950 and 1952.
In an effort to extend a line growing obsolete in the face of advances in sports car design, Allard introduced an extended model in late 1951, the J2X. In an attempt to improve handling, the front suspension's rear attaching radius rods were redesigned with forward ones, which required a forward cross member and extending the nose out past the front wheels. This, in turn, allowed the engine to be moved forward, yielding more cockpit room. There is much confusion on the internet as to labelling of J2 and J2X types – the most obvious differences being that the J2 nose does not extend past the front tires and has two vents below the grill, while the J2X nose extends past the front tires and usually has a single vent below the grill placed on a more protruding chin.
The J2X was not as successful in international racing as the J2, as it became less competitive against more advanced Jaguar C and D types, Ferraris, and Maserati works cars it headlined less often in major international races. Of 199 documented starts in major races in the 9 years between 1952 and 1960, J2X's garnered 12 first place finishes; 11 seconds; 17 thirds; 14 fourths; and 10 fifth places.
A Allard J2 in The Gambler and the Lady, Movie, from 1952