The Special Short-Chassis Allard "Competition" 2-Seater
Brilliant top-gear flexibility and traditional acceleration. A silent, smooth-running car capable of high cross-country average speeds.
The post-war Allard, product of an enthusiast whose trials reputation up to 1939 was second to none, has aroused the greatest interest and speculation in motoring circles. Consequently, we are glad to be able to present a test report on one of these cars with the proviso that the particular Allard tested was Sydney Allard's personal car, and as such has a wheelbase 6 in. shorter than the production "Competition" 2-seater, (i.e., 8 ft. 4 in.) and a Ford V8 engine bored-out to Mercury capacity, giving about five additional b.h.p. It also has the 4.1-to-1 axle ratio of the long-chassis cars, but otherwise was in standard trim. It ran, of course, on Pool petrol and can claim to be a hard-used car, having won this year's Experts' Trial and having got back from a fast run to Devon on the day before we took it over.
The body lines are entirely different from those of the pre-war Allard. The visibility over the low bonnet is 100 per cent., with both wings always in full view and no filler cap to mar the cleancut silhouette. The folding screen offers ample protection when driving at speed, no unpleasant back-draught being evident. The door hinge line is swept forward to provide easy entrance; the catch on the passenger's door proved unnecessarily difficult to operate. Incidentally, there are no outside door handles, which is typical of the new Allard, its unbroken exterior constituting the car-washer's dream-come-true. The seats, consisting of a nicely-moulded squab and leather air cushions on the floor, are generally comfortable, although they are unadjustable, and some people might prefer a little more support under the legs. The driving position is well suited to a medium-height driver who likes to sit close up to the wheel. The remote-control gear-lever and central, fly-off-type handbrake are very nicely placed, as is the spring-spoke steering wheel, and the door cut-away never impedes the right elbow. There is a footwell for the driver's feet, but the throttle pedal might be bettor placed in relation thereto.
The instrument board carries, left to right: lamp switch and main ignition key; reversing-lamp switch; combined water thermometer and oil gauge above; choke; "reserve" fuel-pump switch; rev.-counter; ignition light; speedometer; starter button; hand-throttle; ammeter, fuel gauge; additional ignition switch above; combined horn button and headlamp dipper. The rev.-counter was inoperative on the car tested; it is an Allard-Cooper-Stewart reading to 5,000 r.p.m. The 100 m.p.h. speedometer, of the same breed, read commendably steadily. The normal water temperature is 185° F. and the oil presure stays at 45 lb./sq. in. at road r.p.m. We suggest that considerable improvement could be effected were the horn and lamp-dipper accessible without having to dive through, or feel behind, the steering wheel, and It fuel gauge and oil gauge were transposed. There is also the possibility of driving with the reversing light on when this is controlled by switch and not by the gearlever, while to use the light switch it was necessary to reach to the near side. The wiper-box is very well placed, and the dynamo gave a ready charge. Apparently no dashlamp is considered necessary.
First impressions in driving an Allard are its immense "step-off," the lightness of its controls, its very "useable" speed, and its smooth, silent, easy manner of going. The clutch action is excellent, and light; the brake pedal asks no effort and gives splendidly progressive, straightline braking. The accelerator, is also light to use except, perhaps, when delicate opening is called for from the overrun. The braking effect of the big engine, allied to soft springing, results in some pitching if violent throttle movements are permitted.
The V8 engine pours out its power in almost complete silence, so far as the car's occupants are concerned, and without any trace of flat-spot or vibration. To a large extent flexible engine mounting is responsible, but in some ways it is a mixed blessing, because the rigidly-mounted, remote gear-lever is unable to cope properly with gearbox movement, and this results in the lever becoming increasingly stiff to move under load, which slows the gear change and makes it necessary to "crash" fast upward and downward changes. However, clutch and transmission seem unruffled by such gear-changing, and for normal use it is quite a pleasing action. When opening up, the gear-lever can be felt to move if one's hand is resting on it. No gear noise is evident. There is no reverse stop.
The steering is generally light but gets somewhat heavier towards full lock, the wheel asking 2 1/2 turns from one lock to the other. Some return movement from the i.f.s. is felt over bad surfaces; a short, "Lambda"-like kick-back over rough roads and a very slight snatch when the front suspension is working hard with the wheels on appreciable lock. Normally, however, this return motion is negligible, while column judder is never excessive, which fits in with the general impression that the front of the car is adequately rigid, wings and facia included. There is excellent balance between over- and under-steer, and strong castor action. For rapid cross-country motoring the steering is sufficiently accurate and the car can be swung round open bends in a beautifully balanced fashion, while it "holds-in" splendidly, and break-away is almost impossible to promote. Nor is any trace of roll apparent, unless the car is thrown about in "rally-test" style. Incidentally, the tyres can be made to howl, and loudly, but in ordinary fast cornering no noise whatsoever comes from them, fairly modest tyre-pressures notwithstanding. The car holds a straight course at speed; in reverse the steering becomes light and less decisive. The lock is exceptionally good and the steering ratio a nice compromise between low and high gearing.
Across country the Allard is very rapid indeed, and its smooth, entirely silent progression enhances its value in this respect. The acceleration, for which this make has always been famous, is especially useable in traffic and out of slow corners, etc. The difficult gearlever action aforementioned is largely excused because the car has such excellent top-gear performance. There is little necessity to change down over the usual give-and-take motoring which British secondary roads entail. The Allard is, in effect, game for anything in its highest ratio and still out-performs most so-called fast cars. From a standstill 30 m.p.h. is reached almost instantaneously in bottom, in which gear a maximum of just over 34 m.p.h. is possible. Second-gear gives strong pick-up to about 55 m.p.h., with a maximum of over 58 m.p.h. On main roads 80 m.p.h. comes up very easily, and 65 m.p.h. is a commonplace cruising speed on by-roads.
When sheer performance is under discussion, timed tests tell the most convincing story. We were able to carry out a number of such tests on a private road and the results are given in the accompanying table. The high-lights of these figures can be stated concisely as a mean maximum speed of 79.32 m.p.h. over the flying 1/4 mile, screen down, a standing 1/4 mile in 20.05 sec., and acceleration from a standing start to 50 m.p.h. in 10 sec. and to 70 m.p.h. in 23.7 sec. These figures are the result of a number of runs in both directions, and as the axle ratio in use had rendered the speedometer inaccurate, this was re-calibrated carefully prior to timing the car. It is significant that exactly the same times were obtained on several occasions. Erecting the screen affected maximum speed by approximately 1 1/2 m.p.h. In top gear it was possible to motor at a brisk walking pace without transmission snatch. The brakes were out of adjustment and we decided not to proceed with measured stopping distances, but can say that the car stopped in a straight line with locked wheels from 60 m.p.h. and that, bar very slight noise from one drum at the end of the day, did not suffer from brake squeal. After some 300 miles' hard driving the brake power had not diminished to any extent, and for road motoring the car possessed adequate retardation. As the mileometer was inaccurate, fuel consumption tests were not undertaken, but rather better than 16 m.p.g. is obtainable without in any way restraining one's throttle foot. For the tests the road surface was dry; the wind strength about 20 m.p.h. The fuel tank was half to three-quarters full and a lightweight passenger was carried.
Full marks were earned by the comfort of the car over poor surfaces. Clearly, this is achieved by soft springing in the modern tradition, and the wheels move quite an appreciable distance on occasion without affecting the rigid feel of the car. Humpback bridges can be negotiated at high speed without apprehension or unpleasant aftermath, and trials sections can be explored in comparative comfort. Really fast cornering, entailing rapid change from one steering lock to the other, can result in some vagueness of control until the suspension copes with the transference of weight, but this is but a small penalty to pay for otherwise highly-effective springing. The outward appearance of the Allard belies the fuel that the engine is well back in the chassis and that there is plenty of avoirdupois over the rear axle, which, however, the car's trials successes emphasise.
The lamp power was moderate, but some adjustment of beam from the headlamps was called for, immediate attention to which was defeated by the inbuilt construction. Behind the seats there is storage for hood (side screens are not supplied), tools, jack, etc., reached via the squab. The rear number plate is fully illuminated; the bonnet has a safety catch to prevent it hinging upwards involuntarily, fits really snugly, and has practical fasteners. The hood is very effectively held taut round the screen by special catches, and it is interesting that the front wings are of welded sheet-metal construction. Engine accessibility is a strong feature of the bonnet construction. A few quite minor body-noises were noticed. It is hardly necessary to say that the car attracted a crowd of admiring onlookers whenever it was parked in populated places.
On Pool petrol rather pronounced pinking occurred unless the throttle was opened very carefully (there is no hand ignition control), but this pinking did not appear to impair performance, and the engine stopped at once when switched off. The ignition switch rendered horn and other electrics dead when in the "off" position — a good point — and the reversing light was useful. The sidelamps could not be checked as "on" when in the car. The fuse boxes and cut-out are instantly accessible on lifting the bonnet. Starting from cold was instantaneous with very little choke. The spare wheel is partially concealed by a metal cover, and the tail treatment is very neat. The front number plate can be hinged flat for negotiation of "observed sections." The racing-type handbrake is very handy, if somewhat hard to lock. Each door has a zip-fastened pocket, and an effective umbrella-type hood is provided. The screen sealing-rubber emitted a "gobble" when it reached 75 m.p.h. In approximately 300 miles we added half-a-gallon of water and three pints of engine oil. The engine ticked-over correctly and never boiled; it started as easily hot as cold. The suction-secured central mirror is reasonably useable.
That, then, is a critical analysis of the 1947 Allard. All the foregoing characteristics combine to form an essentially likeable car, which is as at home in town as on the open road, or up trials hills. The Allard is very easy to drive and completely docile; its acceleration from the bottom-end makes negotiation of even London's city traffic almost a pleasure. The way in which the car gets round bends, its immense performance, unaffected by main-road gradients, and its high degree of refinement, render it one of the most attractive day-to-day sports cars we have experienced. Further details this intriguing car can be had from the Allard Motor Co., Ltd., 48, Acre Lane,, London, S.W.2 (Brixton 6431). The price of the 8 ft. 10 in. wheelbase 2-seater is £750, not including purchase tax. — W. B.
ALLARD SPECIAL SHORT-CHASSIS "COMPETITION" 2-SEATER
Engine: V8, 80.96 by 95.25 mm. (3,917 c.c.), 32 R.A.C.
Gear-ratios: 1st, 14.4 to 1; 2nd, 6.5 to 1; Top, 4.1 to 1.
Tyre Size: 6.25 in. by 16 in. Dunlop E.L.P.
Weight (in road trim with approx. 2 gall. of fuel, but less occupants): 22 1/2 cwt.
Turning circle: 34 ft. (right-hand).
Steering ratio: 2 1/3rd turns, lock to lock.
Fuel capacity: 17 gall. (one in reserve).
Acceleration: — (Mean of two-way runs.)
0-50 m.p.h., 10.0 sec.
0-60 m.p.h., 14.25 sec.
0-70 m.p.h., 23.70 sec.
s.s. 1/4 mile: 20.05 sec. (mean),
20.0 sec. (best run).
Speed: f.s. 1/4 mile: 79.32 m.p.h. (mean), 80.40 m.p.h. (best run).