Monterey | Lot 205
1951 Allard J2
$224,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
13 August 2021
- One of approximately 90 examples produced; delivered to the West Coast and raced in-period
- Upgraded in-period with a Corvette 283-cu. in. V-8 and Corvette gearbox
- A nicely presented restoration with thoughtful competition-focused improvements
- Ideal for vintage competition events and rallies worldwide
- Accompanied by the original build order and factory build sheets
Sydney Allard developed the mighty J2 specifically to break into the burgeoning American sports racing car market. Open-road racing on public streets exploded in popularity the United States in the late 1940s, as returning servicemen went seeking their next thrill. The lightweight J2 roadster, typically delivered to American customers sans engine, was ready to accept any number of mighty and plentiful “Yank” V-8s; it quickly became a dominant force in motorsport. The robust chassis 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. While the J2 was undoubtedly fast, it also had a reputation for wild handling, and it often took a caliber of a driver like John Fitch, Carroll Shelby, or Phil Hill to tame it on the narrow, undulating, and downright dangerous racecourses of the day.
This 1951 J2, chassis number 99J 1787, was invoiced by the factory on 29 August 1950. Build records on file show it was prepared to accept a Cadillac V-8 and finished in silver over natural leather upholstery. The order also specified provisions for a Ford gearbox as well as a strengthened chassis. Once completed, the rolling chassis was dispatched to Bell Auto Parts, the selling dealer in California and an early speed shop. By the 1950s, Bell’s new owner Roy Richter developed a highly successful mail-order business and founded such legendary names as Bell Helmets and Cragar Industries. Richter and his crew installed the Cadillac motor and prepared the Allard for competition; it spent its early days racing extensively in various West Coast events, with its owner James Chapman at the helm.
Early in this car’s life, Mr. Chapman had the original split front axle replaced with a solid axle to improve the car’s handling on undulating circuits. The J2 continued to race through the 1950s, and it is believed Mr. Chapman sold it sometime around 1956. In 1962, while in the care of its next owner, the original Cadillac engine was replaced with a lighter and more compact Chevrolet 283-cubic-inch V-8 and four-speed gearbox lifted from a 1957 Corvette. The solid-axle configuration and the Chevrolet 283 remain with the car to this day and are integral to its unique history.
As offered today, 99J 1787 is in fine order throughout. It was restored in the late 1990s under the ownership of collector and vintage racer Jimmy Dobbs, and the high quality of this well-preserved restoration is apparent. Its purposeful cabin features Stewart Warner gauges, with a Moon Eyes tachometer just ahead of the driver; its leather upholstery displays the patina of use. Body fittings consist of the correct oval air outlets, polished stone guards on the rear wing, Monza fuel filler, and single side-mount spare wheel. Twin Perspex aero screens help keep the bugs out of your teeth while on the move, and a chrome Ray Dot mirror lets you keep tabs on everyone you have just passed. Rolling stock consists of excellent chrome knock-off wire wheels fitted with Vredestein Sprint Classic radials
No expense was spared in sorting the chassis for racing. This includes a re-engineered DeDion axle that is updated with a Jaguar E-Type differential, modern-style open drive shaft in place of the torque tube, and adjustable Heim joints. The modified solid front axle uses a transverse leaf spring, integrated steering stabilizer, and more Heim joints for fine-tuning. Alfin drum brakes and modern Carrera dampers at all four corners round out the well-developed setup. Notably, there is also an on-board fire suppression system, as required for many forms of vintage motorsport. The J2 was subsequently owned by noted collector Jim Taylor.
Raced in-period, presented with a pleasingly mellowed restoration boasting impressive mechanical updates, and with history of ownership by sports car connoisseurs, this J2 is an extremely well-sorted and fast car suitable for competitive vintage racing or for entry into any number of rallies and spirited touring events worldwide.