Letters From Readers
N.B. —Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and "Motor Sport" does not necessarily associate…
ONE of the most potent Allards in the world and three of the most interesting cars of this make in one stable are the property of Mr. Eric Alexander of Worthing.
The fastest of the trio is a remarkable car, inasmuch as it serves as a shopping runabout, is an extremely fast sports car and competes very successfully in sprint contests, its acceleration matching that of American “dragsters.”
This J2X Allard was built for Le Mans. It has a 5,420-c.c. V8 Cadillac engine with Detroit Automotive Company full race equipment, including twin Rochester Quadruple downdraught carburetters, solid tappets, a compression-ratio in the region of 10 to 1 and Buick inner with Cadillac outer valve springs, of 190 lb./sq. in. against the standard engines’ 160-lb. valve springs. Ignition is by a Mallory distributor and Mallory “Magspark” high-efficiency coil, and there is food for thought in the ignition advance used – 9 deg. before t.d.c. on the hand setting, which increases to 31 deg. maximum advance when the automatic control takes over!
Power from this bonnetful of potent machinery goes, via a Cadillac clutch, to a 3-speed and reverse gearbox with central “stick,” the gears being Chevrolet, in an Oldsmobile casing. Thus were a desirable set of close ratios obtained. These can be further varied because the de Dion back axle incorporates an Allard quickchange spur-gear train at the end of the open propeller-shaft. With this there are twelve combinations, giving a range of final-drive ratios from 2.0 to 1 to 4.9 to 1. This range of ratios enable effective use to be made of the power available, which is probably in excess of 300 b.h.p., the engine running up to a remarkable 5,000 r.p.m. when at the top of its form.
For example, at Brighton Alexander uses a 3.78-to-1 ratio. For a s.s ¼-mile this is altered to 3.78 to 1, and for a s.s. ½-mile sprint, such as at Thorney Island, when the Allard has thrice in succession made fastest-time-of-the-day against racing-car opposition, a 3.20 to 1 ratio is employed. Up Prescott a 3.45 to 1 ratio is found more suitable, while at Shelsley-Walsh the 3.2 axle ratio enables second gear to be used all the way up and over the line, after stepping off in bottom gear.
After running at Le Mane in 1952, this Allard was modified for sprint work, in which sphere it has certainly collected the silverware, as a glance at Mr. Alexander’s sideboard proves ! Special 100-ton steel half-shafts were machined for the car and the 40-gallon fuel tank was replaced by a 10-gallon tank with its own electric fuel pump feeding to the mechanical fuel pump on the engine. For serious sprinting a two-gallon tank, again with its own electric pump, is fitted on the bulkhead. Plastic fuel-lines have given better results than the original copper piping, as has a ring-pipe round the carburetters feeding both float chambers, instead of separate pipes to each float chamber.
The body, ugly but suggestive of the latent brute-force of this particular Sydney Allard baby, was built by the Allard Motor Co., of 16g. alloy panels. The radiator is normal Allard, the cooling system using a water impeller in the cylinder block, and two 6-volt batteries live under the seat.
The chassis is the usual boxed-in channel-section J2X with cruciform bracing, and Lockheed 12 in. by 2¼ in. brakes with twin master cylinders and ribbed Alfin drums are used, each retaining the external adjuster fitted for the Le Mans race. The linings are Ferodo VG 95. Suspension is by coil-springs all round, with the divided-beam axle at the front.
The power of the modified Cadillac engine has never been measured but it was noticeably improved by raising the compression-ratio and particularly by replacing the three exhaust pipes from each three-port head which merged into a single pipe, with three separate pipes from each head, these running to D-type Jaguar silencers each with twin tail pipes. The Allard now possesses a throaty rumble, good to hear, but take-off is rendered exciting by a somewhat “sudden” clutch and the great urge unleashed when the throttles are opened.
The car’s owner is the first to admit that this Allard is no lightweight. It scales some 23½ cwt. at the kerbside. Consequently, its sprint successes are all the more creditable. These include the s.s. ¼-mile against a strong headwind at Eastney in 14.7 sec. (before later modifications), the Thorney Island s.s ½-mile in 21.8 sec., and best British time in the semi-wet at Brighton (25.67 see, for the s.s. kilo). That this is a very potent machine is recalled by a bill for £275 which Alexander received from Brighton Corporation, price of a lamp standard he demolished soon after the start of the 1956 Speed Trials. He makes no attempt to excuse this lapse; indeed, a chunk of the damaged post, suitably mounted and inscribed, occupies a prominent place amongst his trophies. At the top end of the Brighton course, where peak revs, are just about reached in top gear, equivalent to some 140 m.p.h., Alexander admits to apprehension as the car tries to slide into the seaside kerb. Incidentally, at Le Mans, with a 2.8-to-1 axle ratio, the car was timed at 148 m.p.h.
Yet the Le Mans Cadillac-Allard is used frequently for shopping expeditions, both by its owner and his business partner, Miss Margaret Hockenhull, who holds members’ f.t.d. for Thorney Island, in the excellent time of 23.6 sec.
The car’s maxima in the gears are difficult to assess, because the driver has little inclination to line-up the tachometer reading when driving against the watch, but approximately 60 m.p.h. in first, and 95 m.p.h. in second gear are obtainable. At Brighton in 1955, before the more recent mods. were made, the last 88 yards of the course were covered at a timed 128.6 m.p.h., so that a maximum in the region of 140 m.p.h. (in sports-car trim, remember !) seems a reasonable estimate. The procedure for breaking course records is to keep seven gallons of fuel in the rear tank to aid rear-wheel adhesion. The centre-lock wire wheels are shod with 6.50 by 16 tyres at the back, 6.00 by 16 at the front, these tyres being Dunlop Racing, all of which are Pneugrippa-ed.
A carburation flat-spot has been cured by using Cleveland Disco’ petrol. When Allard raced the car Lodge R47 plugs were used but, after experimenting with A.C. 42s, specially imported from the States, Alexander now prefers the softer Champion J6s, sacrificing a set of these, however, after every run. So far as lubricants are concerned, the sump is filled with 50/50 Bardahl and Castrolite, drained after each meeting. Castrol XL with the addition of 25 per cent. Bardahl being used in the gearbox and Castrol Hypoid 90 plus 25 per cent. Bardahl in the back axle.
In spite of its potency this remarkable Allard has been driven some 5,000 miles on the road by its present owner, who gets an excellent 17 m.p.g. when thus commuting. Raced, this rises to around 8 m.p.g., naturally.
Alexander is no newcomer to sprint motoring, for in 1926, riding a 350-c.c. Calthorpe tuned by Fall, he beat the venerable Baragwanarth at Lewes, and subsequently sprinted in the saddles of Brough-Superior, long-stroke Sunbeam and Norton motor-cycles, He then turned his attention to cars, graduating through seven different Austin Sevens, Clynos, Morrises, etc., to the hobby of turning out fine cars to Concours d’Eleganee standard. These latter have included Talbot 105, Speed Six Bentley, a beautiful cream drophead 540.K. Mercedes-Benz (now in America) and his present Allard saloon. He did not return to sprint motoring until recently, with a 1953 T.T. Arden-head Mercury-Allard.
The saloon Allard is another remarkable car, and probably the most expensive ever built by the Allard Company. It was listed at over £2,500. It is a blue P2 1956 Monte Carlo model with another 5.4-litre Cadillac engine under its bonnet. This engine is quite standard (at the time of writing !), with hydraulic tappets and single Carter Quadruple carburetter, and so is the Hydramatic fully automatic transmission. The coil-spring suspension, Lockheed brakes and de than back axle (3.5 to 1) are much as on the 32X, but the two-door Allard saloon body is very heavy and this car weighs about 29 cwt. Luxuriously upholstered in leather, this is a fine car, which handles well and is very quiet-running. Naturally, it possesses outstanding acceleration; at M.I.R.A. the Allard Company timed it to do to 60 m.p.h. in 10.2 sec. and the s.s. ¼-mile in 17 sec.
On this occasion there was apparently insufficient space for the car to get into its stride, because the maximum speed of 112 m.p.h. scarcely did it justice. The Hydramatic transmission has an over-ride lever and kick-down, providing two settings, changes into the highest ratio taking place At 30 m.p.h. or at 65/68 m.p.h. according to the driving technique adopted. In view of the appeal of a 5.4-litre fully-automatic Allard it is surprising that this model went out of production. But only six were built. Of these, there is a Cadillac-engined example with normal Ford gearbox in Ireland, two others, one with Ford, another with Mercury engine, in this country, the others being exported without power units. So Alexander has a unique Allard in this Cadillac Hydramatie saloon. It has run about 20,000 trouble-free miles, doing 17 m.p.g., and looks very smart, with 6.00 by 16 Dunlop Road Speed Whitewall tyres. Miss Hockenhull has exhibited it at the Brighton Concours d’Elegance, and it has won the closed-car class at Thorney Island Speed Trials. Incidentally, Castrolite is used in the engine and appropriate Castrol lubricants for the transmission and back axle of this car.
After buying these cars Alexander craved hack-transport and seems to have decided on an all-Allard stable, because he purchased, from the Allard Company and for no very fabulous sum of money, his third Allard. This is a 1949 M-type coupe, with 30-h.p. Ford V8 engine. The late property of a member of the Competition Department of Antal Ltd., it is by no means as ordinary as it looks. The Ford gearbox has a floor gear-lever, which is rare. The engine boasts alloy heads, a compression-ratio of 8.25 to 1, dual Solex carburetters, a three-branch exhaust manifold and a special eight. lobe distributor. This model had the transverse leaf-spring divided-axle front suspension. This particular Allard has a 3.54-to-1 axle ratio and Michelin “X” tyres all round and is a faster conveyance front A to B than you might suppose ! -W. B.
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