Friday, 02 February 2007 14:41

Lowth, Chris

Written by 
 
MY TALE OF THREE ALLARDS  - Chris Lowth  (Click to watch Video)
 
  My introduction to Motor Sport was at the 1953 Grand Prix at Albert Park, where there were a couple of Allards competing (little did I know what the future held). I did the usual progression thru Car Club Rallies, Gymkhanas and then to Kart racing and then in later years to some Club racing using a Toyota MR2. Then a complete change of direction to the “old car movement”, with a 1927 “Geelong” Ford followed by a 1946 Pontiac, I then began looking for a challenge, and thought a British Sportscar, such as an MGB or Spitfire may be the way to go. A phone call from a friend (?) was destined to change the way I thought of British cars for life. He mentioned that he had been told of an Allard that had rested in a dirt-floored shed in Moonee Ponds for over 30 years.  I immediately thought of J & K types, ”hot” 1950’s sportscars with BIG V8’s, but when I got there I found a sedan!   The car in question:
 
 
1952 Allard P 1 Sedan No.3088 This car was originally planned to be one of the first M2X (Allard 4 seat convertible), however when the chassis was driven to Hiltons Body Works to have the body built, the employee found the chassis flexed so much, he turned around and drove it back to the factory. Dudley Hume the Works Manager suggested a range of modifications to 3088 and the other 3 or 4 chassis in production. Sydney Allard refused and directed they be turned into a sedan (as he had done with the Monte Carlo rally winning car which was based on an M2X chassis, to improve handling). This is the only known surviving P1 with this type of chassis (known to the trade as a P1X).  The car was finally delivered to Adlards (Allards own Ford outlet) in London, on 16th May 1952, without a prearranged owner (which was unusual for Allards, probably due to the change of body). Whilst records are not definite the car was probably sold for export in July 1952, factory records show it as being painted black, with a red interior. The car was most likely shipped to NSW, as its first recorded Registration in Victoria was not until July 1961. The car was sold numerous times during the intervening years. During 1969 the car was left in a field in Moonee Ponds for a number of months, before being treated as “abandoned” by the local council and advertised for disposal by tender. A solicitor with big plans placed an offer for the remnants of the car only to have a dispute with the previous owner who claimed it back from the council. The matter was settled by payment of $50.00!!  
     
Above: The P1 - from 'found' to 'finish'    Above:  P1 at Mornington Rally 2003  Above: High standard interior of the P1
as it is in 2007
   Some attempts were made at restoration in early 70’s, but marriage and children for its owner intervened, and the Allard rested quietly for nearly 30 years in a dusty shed. Whilst “tin worm” was not a problem, the majority of the wooden frame, suffered badly from wood rot!  There followed a 2 year restoration, which involved a complete engine rebuild, wood framing largely replaced and new interior. Massive amounts of body repair to the aluminium shell were also undertaken, in other words a total rebuild. The engine has been restored to “new” condition with Allard's own special alloy cylinder heads and a reading in excess of 100bhp has been obtained on a dyno.  The car weighing over 1.5 tons and riding on a suspension which must be unique.  Ford transverse rear spring (torque tube) and Ballamy  front end, can prove “a bit of a handful” when pushed, so I doubt I’ll ever see its claimed top speed of 83mph!  Ford transverse rear spring (torque tube) and Ballamy  front end, can prove “a bit of a handful” when pushed, so I doubt I’ll ever see its claimed top speed of 83mph!  At its first major outing it was awarded “Best Outright” at the 2003 RACV Rally.  Allard No.2 History of 1953 Allard Palm Beach Three seat Roadster  21Z 5104   (UK Regn NYO-66) During the rebuild of the P1, together with another Allard owner in Queensland, the Allard Register was formed; we initially located about 12 owners. A couple of years later one of the owners put his Allard Palm Beach, up for sale. By that time I had lost all grasp on reality, made an offer for this desirable car, and added it to the “clutter” in my garage.   The car was completed in July 1953 and taken by the factory to be the display car at the 1953 London Motor Show, and used by numerous UK car magazines such as Autocar for road tests. The factory then used it as a test bed/demonstrator for new equipment, wire wheels, multiple carburettor set-ups, overdrive and a Raymond Mays head for the Zephyr derived engine. Sydney & Eleanor Allard also used it in Racing and Rallying. As well as being used in factory advertising brochures.   The car was completed in July 1953 and taken by the factory to be the display car at the 1953 London Motor Show, and used by numerous UK car magazines such as Autocar for road tests. The factory then used it as a test bed/demonstrator for new equipment, wire wheels, multiple carburettor set-ups, overdrive and a Raymond Mays head for the Zephyr derived engine. Sydney & Eleanor Allard also used it in Racing and Rallying. As well as being used in factory advertising brochures.   
       
 Above: The Palm Beach in racing
trim - 1953
 Above: Sydney Allard with Palm
Beach Reg No NY 066
Above: The Palm Beach as it was
landed in Australia in 1970 
 Above: The same car at Mornington
2007
  After a couple of years the car was returned to standard, (the Raymond Mays head being utilised on Sydney’s Monte Carlo Rally Zephyr), and sold to a private owner, sold again, with that owner attaching a trailer and taking a “honeymoon camping holiday” through Europe!  In 1970 the car was shipped to Queensland where it changed hands a couple of times (firstly at the princely sum of $2500 in 1975) and was sorely in need of restoration, which commenced in 1993,being restored to original specifications. It is the only Palm Beach in Australia, there are 3 in NZ, around 15/20 worldwide from a total production of 67 cars.  Since restoration it has won best “Sports car” in the 2003 RACQ rally, several peoples choice awards, CHACA 2003 “Special Interest” award and most recently the “Best European Classic” at the 2004 RACV rally, and again in 2005.   The car weighing 19cwt, with an output of 110 bhp at the back wheels, is a delight to drive having 50/50 weight distribution, with surprising light and sensitive handling, and “modern car” acceleration. The claimed top speed is well in excess of 110mph a vast improvement on the original 85mph. The car is no “museum piece” it is regularly driven and enjoyed.  Allard Number 3: Allard "Hardy" J2X Replica  
 
 Above: The J2X Replica built by Hardy's of California  (Click to watch video of the Hardy J2X)
By this time people who knew me were sending for the men in “white coats”, as I wanted a J type, but there are only a handful in Australia, and none for sale at that time.  Surfing the Internet one day, and I came across a page from Symbolic Motors in California, advertising a Allard “Hardy” J2X, it was a replica (only about 40 built) but it was true to the Allard tradition. Next how to check out the car, a trip to the USA was inconvenient due to work and expensive, the Internet came to the rescue again, with a Company called “Carcheck” who for around $100 did a 3 page report on the car (even counting the stone chips), it passed with flying colours. A bit of negotiation reduced the asking price to a reasonable level and a deal was done. By that time most of my friends had written me off as a “hopeless case”, “You bought a car off the “Net?”.    How to import? Again using the Internet found an Import agent who only imports cars from the US, and within a month the car was on the water, then the problems started. WE LOST IT When it was due to arrive, the Customs computer went down. It’s on the wharf I was told! Patiently waiting, it still didn’t surface when Customs were operating normally. Both the agent & I were getting worried (there were other cars in the container as well), using the container number (via the internet - again) I found the container was in Taiwan! The ship it was loaded on, was not even coming to Australia, it ended up spending 8 weeks holidaying there until it got space on a ship coming to Melbourne.  Mid December (four months later), the day finally arrived to collect the car, check the weather (very important as it had no soft top at that time), you guessed it, bucketing rain! What to do? A roll of black plastic was “borrowed”, the end result? Something looking like a modern art sculpture, or perhaps an Allard in a black condom? However it worked much to the amusement of a lot of drivers.  What did I end up with? A very close copy of a Allard J2X with a 383 C.I. Chev motor, a competition five speed gearbox, two pak paint job on a pristine body with leather interior, and lots of performance.   Admittedly the steering wheel is on the wrong side but driving is a breeze, with around 400hp, you only use 1st or 2nd gear when taking off all other driving is in top gear. A few laps around Philip Island race circuit proved it had more performance than you could ever use on the road.  Now if I can just make the garage a bit bigger I may add Number Four!
   
 Above:Palm Beach Feb 2007  Above: Interior Palm Beach  Above: Engine of PI with Allard head
   
 Above:Chris Lowth & Bill Hunter - P1  Above: Hardy replica J2X  Above: RHS passenger seat in J2X
Print Email
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Read 6721 times Last modified on Monday, 21 May 2012 17:14

Leave a comment