The Allard motor company built a wide variety of vehicles between the years of 1936 and 1959.
From the very first car, Allard's formula was to shove high-powered American V8s in a lightweight sporting chassis. The first official Allard-named car resulted when Sydney Allard was attempting to build a highly effective Trials vehicle. Trials events were not at all like traditional racing as we think of it today. They required vehicles scaling over rocks, mud, steep grades, forwarding streams, and other land based challenges - kind of like Jeep events are like today. The popular car for these events at the time were MGs equipped with superchargers. Sydney Allard realized that a car with more torque might be more effective. So when someone near his shop totaled a brand-new Flathead Ford, he pulled the V8 from it and placed it in the chassis of an older Bugatti racer. The formula was immensely successful at Trials events, so his garage quickly became flooded with requests to replicate the spirit of his mash-up design.
As his success grew, World War II started up. During the war, he was responsible for fixing the military's Ford trucks. Durign that time, he developed a pretty significant amount of factory to do that work, so when the war ended, he redirected to building chassis of his own design. He initially built three models: the J was a competition oriented car - the K was a two-seat classic sports car, and the L was a four passenger touring car. But the Allard motor company never actually produced it's own engines. It stuck to the original formula of designing the chassis to accept a wide variety of V8 American power plants.
All of his models were being purchased faster than he could make them. But despite his success, Allard felt that the American market was still his biggest untapped opportunity, and the American market didn't initially buy his cars much at all. To try to remedy that, in late 1949, he developed the J-2 chassis. Following his traditional formula, he allowed customers to choose which engine they wanted installed. When American engines became harder to import into England, he agreed to ship the chassis to America and have the engines installed in New York. The first J-2 models received the new Cadillac 331 ci V8. The combination of that engine in the Allard chassis hit the target. The Cadillac engine produce solid power, and was very easily tuned to produce much more. An Allard J-2 equipped with a Cadillac V8 weighed significantly less than 2500 pounds. With that power, it made for an incredibly quick car. Some cars of that time were measured at 0-60 in well under 6 seconds.
In 1950, Sydney Allard and Tom Cole drove a Cadillac-powered Allard J-2 to a third-place finish at the 24 Hours of LeMans. They were only beaten by two Talbot – Lago Formula One cars loosely disguised with bodywork. A pretty outstanding result that only further sparked interest. Plus,as the Hot Rod movement grabbed hold in America, the Allard appeal grew even stronger. It somehow managed to bridge both audiences of Hot Rodders and Sports car enthusiasts, effectively bridging both camps with its appearance and performance.
In 1951, Allard decided to upgrade portions of his lineup, and introduced the J–2X. One of the primary reasons for the redesign was a decision to move the engine forward relative to the J-2, in an effort to create more legroom. In the process, it favorably changed the visual proportion of the car. The J-2X aesthetic is now considered one of the most visually desirable of all the Allards. But even in all the changes, he still stuck with the eclectic transverse leaf / trailing arm independent front suspensin, giving the perpetual positive camber stance.
The J-2X was produced between 1951 in 1954. Only 83 were produced over that time. Most of them received Ford Flathead engines, but the Cadillac 331 or the Chrysler 331 Hemi Firepower engine options were the trick set-up - and largely responsible for building the racing and performance legend. It also didn't hurt that some of the names that were acing Allards successfully included Zora Arkus Duntov and Carroll Shelby.
In 1952, in order to comply with new regulations for LeMans, Allard built a visually stunning full-fendered version of the J–2X, aptly named the J–2X LeMans.
Ultimately, the Allard company was just a way for Sydney Allard to fund his personal racing efforts. So by the mid-1950s, when his company needed an infusion of cash, there was nothing left to give. Despite several attempts to survive, Allard eventually ceased manufacturing in 1959. Even though the run was short-lived, Allard's cars are incredibly desirable today, and clearly inspired many other legendary efforts to follow their wildly successful formula of a big, powerful American V8 shoved into a well-designed lightweight European chassis.