Sydney Allard was an engineer and garage owner who caught the attention of the motorsport world in the early 1940s with his highly successful Ford-powered off-road trials cars. During World War II, he kept himself busy servicing British and American military vehicles, in the process amassing a great deal of experience with Ford V8 engines, as well as a generous storeroom full of spares. Following the war, his focus shifted away from trials and toward road racing, namely with the introduction of the J2 in 1949. This new car was built lower and leaner than the trials-oriented J1, and in the process became more elegant and streamlined. The J2 was designed to take advantage of the powerful new V8 engines coming out of Detroit at the start of the 1950s and featured a de Dion rear axle, large Alfin drum brakes, and a revised version of Allard’s signature split front axle, designed by Les Bellamy. Sydney Allard’s timing was impeccable, as the American sports car racing scene was rapidly gaining momentum and buyers were hungry for affordable, competitive, race-ready cars.
As with most racing-oriented Allards, the cars were shipped less engine and transmission but could be prepped to accept any number of V8s, with the Ford-Ardun and Lincoln units proving popular. While Sydney Allard had a long-running relationship with Ford, it was the arrival of the powerful new overhead valve, 331 cubic-inch V8 from Cadillac that made Allard famous. With 160 horsepower in stock form and plenty more on tap, the Cad-Allards would come to dominate open road racing in the 1950s, winning regularly in American and Europe. In the formative years of the SCCA for instance, Allard J2s were most often found at the sharp end of the field, battling Jaguars, Cunninghams, and Ferraris for victory. It took several years for the Europeans to catch on to Allard’s success, and for a brief time, the J2 was the dominant force in sports racing. The Anglo-American J2 is an icon of motorsport history, and it stands as Allard’s most successful racing car of all time.
Our featured Allard J2 is chassis number 99J 2124, a wonderfully restored example with a fascinating history. According to information compiled by the late Allard historian Tom Lush, this chassis was delivered to Finland in November 1951 and is one of three cars that were sent there. Additional information provided by the current keeper of Mr. Lush’s archives reveals the car was likely cream over a red interior when new. It seems that the Allards were formidable competitors in sports car events throughout Finland and a photo exists of what is likely this car, running in the Finnish GP in Helsinki. Limited race history is known, though a copy of the Allard Register from 1986 shows this car (along with J.2017) was still in Finland at the time, owned by H. Sukman.
In the early 1990s, 99J 2124 was in the possession of noted collector, restorer, and historian E. Dean Butler. Butler sold the car as a restoration project to a fellow collector from Cincinnati, Ohio, who commissioned Butler’s highly respected restoration shop, Zakira’s Garage, to return it to its former glory. The body restoration was performed in England by craftsmen using the same traditional methods and even the original bucks originally employed by the Allard factory. Painting, fitting and finish work was done by the craftspeople at Zakira's. The fully-built Cadillac 331 V8 and period-correct Ford 3-speed gearbox were mated with the restored chassis and the comprehensive restoration was completed in 2000.
Today, this J2 presents as-restored in classic British Racing Green with body-color wire wheels and a green leather cockpit. The quality of the paintwork and detailing is exquisite, with outstanding body lines and straight panels. This car wears a single side-mount spare wheel, properly mounted opposite the driver for optimal weight distribution. The paintwork is exquisite, while the finish on the chassis shows some very light wear, consistent with the car’s careful use in the time elapsed since the restoration was completed. Lucas King of the Road headlamps are supplemented by Lucas fogs, and this J2 sits with a wonderfully aggressive stance on the dark green wire wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilote X tires.
The two-place cockpit is basic and purposeful, trimmed in dark green leather with complementary green carpeting. Period correct instruments sit in the engine-turned alloy dash panel, with the only exception being the fuel gauge for the ATL fuel cell. Accurate details include the Bluemels four-spoke steering wheel and twin aeroscreens. The seats reveal some of the careful use the car has enjoyed over the years, and present with a charming broken-in character. Period-type lift-latch lap belts with shoulder harnesses and a forward-braced roll bar are included in the sale, and the car is plumbed with an on-board fire system.
In addition to the marvelously restored body and chassis, the 1949 Cadillac V8 was rebuilt with careful attention paid to power and longevity. Major components were Magnaflux crack-tested, and the balanced crank fitted with weight-matched 49 Cadillac rods and Ross forged aluminum pistons. The block is topped with freer-breathing 1961 Cadillac heads and a port-matched intake manifold. Fully detailed build specs are included in the history file. Detailing is to period-correct standards, with finned Cadillac valve covers, louvered air cleaner, correct dark blue paint, and restored ancillaries. The subtle addition of an oil filter and braided lines ensure safe and reliable running.
Allard owners are genuinely passionate about their cars, and with only 82 J2s accounted for in the Allard Register, it is rare to find such a beautifully restored example available on the open market. Chassis 99J-2124 is a beautiful machine that is well suited for driving events, or for historic racing with groups like the VSCCA. It is an excellent illustration of the car that launched the careers of Carroll Shelby and Zora Arkus-Duntov while igniting the passion for sports car racing in America.