American sports car enthusiasts owe more to British engineer Sydney Allard than they may know. Operating out of his small London garage business, he became famous for his successes in trials competition in the 1930s, driving his own creations that were usually powered by Ford or Lincoln engines and featuring Leslie Ballamy-designed split-axle independent front suspension. During WWII, Allard serviced and rebuilt mainly Ford military vehicles and by the time the war was over, he had amassed a large array of spares and an extremely well-equipped shop. Faced with a pile of surplus engines, he expanded his offerings from trials cars into road going cars with the K1 of 1949. The K1 featured a box-section chassis, Ballamy’s innovative front suspension, live rear axle and an attractive two-seat steel body. Power came via British-built Ford or Mercury V8 engines, with the Mercury being the performance choice thanks to its 95hp output. Some of those engines were offered with the Ardun OHV conversion developed by Zora-Arkus Duntov, a man who was Allard’s technical advisor and who went on to become the father of the Corvette at Chevrolet. With the K1 and subsequent models, Allard made quite a splash in the fledgling American road-racing scene. Open road racing was gaining popularity in the USA, as WWII veterans were returning home with sports cars purchased in Europe and were seeking a suitable place to exploit their performance. Allard was there to provide affordable sporting cars that could return serious performance and win races- particularly the famous Olds and Cadillac powered J2 and J2X.
Allards went on to become a mainstay of early sports car racing in America. At places like Pebble Beach, Watkins Glen and Bridgehampton, Allards came to dominate high-speed open road races and they inspired the likes of Carrol Shelby, Jack Griffith, and others to shove big Yank V8 engines into nimble British chassis.
This fascinating 1950 K1/K2 is believed to be the only example of its kind, ordered directly from Allard by an American enthusiast. Thanks to comprehensive documentation that dates back to the original order, we can see that the first owner ordered a new K2, with its revised styling and improved chassis. But shortly thereafter, the order for the K2 was canceled and he instead requested an older K1! Allard obliged, though the car was actually built on the superior coil-sprung K2 chassis, and fitted with specially made, backdated K1 bodywork. The car was delivered in the ‘States via John Forbes Agency of Boston, Massachusetts. From there it is believed it was disassembled and stored in the late 1950s, until it was subsequently sold in 1972. The Allard was gradually rebuilt over a 30 year period and, in 2003 was professionally restored to the state in which it presents today.
Finished in an attractive color scheme of silver paint over a pewter-grey cockpit, it presents in beautiful condition today. The quality of the paint work is outstanding with excellent levels of finish work and detailing. The car sits proudly on a set of black steel wheels with correct Allard dog-dish hubcaps and period appropriate blackwall bias-ply tires. Chrome on the bumpers and prominent grille is in excellent order. The silver paint highlights the beautiful curves of the K1 body, especially from the rear three-quarter view.
The spartan cabin is trimmed in pewter-gray leather and gray carpeting. The leather is in very good order, showing only minor creasing from use, with an inviting patina. The four-spoke Brooklands-style steering wheel is leather wrapped for additional grip, a handy feature when burying your right foot in the carpet. Instrumentation is simple and tidy, with original Smiths gauges placed in the center of a nicely restored wood dash panel. Under the hood is a 1947 Mercury 59A flathead V8 engine, rated in period at 85 hp, though now producing significantly more thanks to an overbore to 295 cubic inches, beautiful Edelbrock heads and a trio of Stromberg 97 carburetors. An alternator has been fitted for reliable running day or night, and an electric fan keeps engine temps in check.
This attractive and well-sorted Allard K1/K2 is an outstanding choice for vintage rallying or show, and its presentation, history and bespoke nature make it a standout even among the rarified company of other Allards. The sale of this fine automobile includes comprehensive historical documentation, a selection of original tools and a fitted tonneau cover.