Sydney Herbert Allard

Allard Motor Company 1929 to 2012

The records indicate that in the 18th century, Sydney’s father and family moved from their home in Warminster, Wiltshire, to Streatham in south London, where Sydney was born on 19th June 1910. The Allard family lived at Uplands, Leighton Court Road, a large rambling Edwardian house in Streatham. Sydney was educated at Ardingly College in Sussex.

Sydney’s father, Arthur Allard, was a successful builder and property developer. A profession he wanted Sydney and his brothers to follow, but Sydney had other ideas. His interest lay in motors and machines, initially with Francis-Barnett motorcycles. At the age of 19, in 1929, he acquired a Grand Prix Morgan three wheeler (trike) handed down from his elder brother Jack. Together with his brother Dennis, he entered a three lap handicap race in 1929, at Brooklands banked race circuit and they won.

In the pursuit of more performance and stability, the Morgan was soon converted to four wheels and various competitive events followed. But with its low ground clearance it was not ideally suited to trialing, which mainly used the steepest, roughest, muddiest tracks around.

In 1930, seeing that Sydney was determined to pursue a career with motor cars, Sydney’s father Arthur helped him setup in business with Alf Brisco, some years older than Sydney and with experience in the trade.

Arthur Allard had purchased a building from a roofing company with the name Robert Adlard. The site was later to be redeveloped with Sydney and Alf’s garage business occupying the ground floor, with a block of flats above.

It was decided to retain the name Adlards at this site, so Sydney’s new business became Adlards Motors. There was no idea of creating Allard Motor Company at that time, infact, it was to be another 12 years or so before Allard Motor Company was formed in 1946. However, in later years, the two businesses with comparatively similar names did cause some confusion to customers.

The first twelve Allard pre-war specials were in fact built by Adlards Motors.

Sydney Allard was a racer at heart and so extensive were his motor sporting activities, that a book alone could be written on his exploits.

Starting in 1929 with a race at the Brooklands racing circuit with his three wheeled Morgan which he won and from then on with his own Ford based specials. After campaigning the Morgan, Sydney with his passion for motorsport inevitably determined that he needed to develop a more competitive vehicle. CLK5 was this machine and became the first Allard Special built in 1936. He won many trophies, winning a 50 mile race on Southport sands in 1936 with CLK5. The Motor featured a cartoon of CLK5 with the caption ‘S.H. Allard climbing almost any hill in almost any trial’.

The Allard Special was based on a Ford 48 3.2 litre V8. The solid front axle needed extensive modification to obtain more articulation and maximum vertical wheel movement. Sydney realised that in trialing it was essential to keep the front wheels on ground as much as possible, particularly if you had a torquey engine and good traction. Leslie Belamy derived independent swing axle front suspension was adopted, a feature which was employed on nearly all Allards to follow.

This combination, together with Sydney’s exuberant driving style, proved highly successful in competition and gave rise to the classic Allard, rather dramatic splayed front wheel appearance (see photo) whenever accelerating and cornering in motorsport rough road events.

His success attracted the attention of budding motor sport enthusiasts and he was asked to build similar specials for them. In all, some 12 pre-war specials were designed and assembled, powered by Ford V8 or V12 engines.

At the outbreak of war, from 1940 – 45 Sydney and his brothers took control of a large workshop at Hugon Road in Fulham, south London, where they repaired and serviced mostly Ford vehicles being used by the wartime forces throughout the war.

The Allard Motor Company was incorporated on 14th February 1945 by Sydney Herbert Allard.

Although Sydney had already built the twelve Allard Specials prior to 1940, in the workshop of his garage business Adlards Motors at that time, it was not until 1946, after the war, that production of Allard cars started. Based initially in Keswick Road, Putney, South London and then over the next few years extending to other factory units in the area.

The company manufactured a wide range of models. Starting with the J1 in 1946, followed by K1, L, M and P models. All powered by the Ford V8 flat head Pilot 3622 c.c. engine. Followed by the J2 and K2 in 1950. J2X and MX2 in 1951. P2 Palm Beach Mk.1 in 1952, J2R 1953 and finally the Palm Beach Mk.2 in 1956/57.

Sydney raced and rallied his cars, as did others in the USA and elsewhere, with great success, so much so that Allard cars for a few years from 1948 – 1952, were famous in the motor sporting world, particularly in the USA to where most of the J2 and J2X cars were exported.

A total of some one thousand nine hundred cars were produced in the ten years between 1946 and 1957 and exported all over the world, but mainly to the USA. With their American V8 engines the J2 and J2X models were the forerunners of cars such as the GMC Corvette and Shelby Cobra. Both Zora Duntov and Carroll Shelby had contact with Allards in earlier years.

Zora Arkus Duntov, worked with the Allard Motor Company and raced for Allard at Le Mans in 1950, before moving to the General Motor Company in USA, where he became the Chief Engineer credited with instigating the Corvette.

Carroll Shelby raced an Allard J2 in the USA at the start of his career and before he became famous for the development of the AC Cobra.

One might wonder if the Allard Motor Company had still been producing cars in 1958, Shelby would have chosen an Allard JR3, a car considered by Allards, but never produced, rather than the AC which he chose to base the Cobra on.

Although one or two specials and dragsters were built after 1957, the last production cars were an open drophead Palm Beach Mk.2 and a closed GT – this car was fitted with 5.4 litre Chrysler Firepower V8, coupled to a Torqueflite automatic transmission. These cars were hand built in London in the bodyshop at Clapham Common Southside.

In 1946 and 1947 he raced his Allard J1 Specials HLF 601 followed by JGP 473, the forerunner to the Legendary J2.

The Steyr single seater, hill climb race car with air cooled Steyr 3.7 litre V8, appeared in 1947, after establishing several hillclimb records. Sydney went on to win the hillclimb Championship in 1949 with the Allard Steyr.

In 1950, driving a J2 Allard, Sydney finished third overall in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race with co-driver Tom Cole, when after suffering gearbox trouble, they had to drive with just top gear for the last ten hours.

In 1952, Sydney won the internationally famous Monte Carlo Rally in a P1 Allard saloon. Narrowly beating Stirling Moss in a works Sunbeam Talbot and became the only drive ever to win in a car bearing his own name.

Sydney competed in a wide variety of motorsport events from the age of 19 in 1929 to 1965, in a wide range of competition vehicles, mostly of his own design and construction.

He was instrumental in introducing the sport of drag racing to the UK. He built the first true dragster in the world outside of the USA in 1961 and organised the dramatic Dragfests in 1963 and 1964, which opened the eyes of motorsport enthusiasts to the excitement of side by side drag racing.

After 1957 the Allard workshops were taken over by the associated company Adlards Motors, a Ford Main Dealership, but a small workshop and offices in Clapham High Street, together with an engineering works and motor accessory shop in Putney were retained.

Over the 1959-1975 years Allard Motor Company marketed a range of modified Fords, such as the Allardette based on the Ford Anglia, other car conversions and motor accessories including Golde sun roofs and Shorrock superchargers.

In 1960 Sydney started building the first dragster outside the USA and introduced drag racing to the UK with the staging of the 1963/64 Dragfests, from where it spread to other countries in Europe. Allard built four dragsters, which were raced by Sydney and Alan Allard.

Sadly, Sydney became ill with cancer in the autumn of 1965 and died in April 1966 after a long illness, at the age of only fifty six.

His son Alan took control of the company at this time and continued to market Shorrock and Wade superchargers, engine conversions, motor accessories and from1971 turbocharger conversions.

In 1975, Allard Motor Company ceased to trade when Alan moved to Wales with his family. From 1975 – (?) Alan continued the turbocharger conversion and motor accessory business at various locations in the Monmouth/Ross on Wye area.

Alans book ‘Turbocharging & Supercharging’ published in 1982, became a widely used reference guide for many enthusiasts wanting to gather information on the power to be gained from forced induction.

In 2004 Lloyd Allard, Alan’s son, took over from Alan, the business now being based in Gloucester.

Lloyd Allard’s business Allard Motorsport, manufactures a range of Allard aluminium products for the automobile market.

In 2012 Alan Allard formed Allard Sports Cars Limited, together with Lloyd, with principle aims of the revival of Allard as a specialist car manufacturer, also to carryout out Allard car restorations and the manufacture of components for Allard cars.

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