1953 Allard JR Cadillac SOLD
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Estimate: $350,000-$450,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $341,000

Est.350bhp, 369 cu. in. Cadillac overhead valve V8 engine with two four-barrel carburetors, three-speed Ford- based transmission with Lincoln Zephyr gears, semi-independent front suspension with split axle, rear deDion axle with coil springs and tubular shock absorbers, Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 100"

If hot rods had been invented in England, Sidney Herbert Allard would have been their originator. In 1936 he built a successful trials machine from Ford and Bugatti parts. His 1949 National British Hill Climb Championship came in a loud and fearsome special with four rear wheels, powered by a war-surplus V8 Steyr tank engine.

The first postwar production models of the Allard Motor Company, founded in 1946, featured American Ford flathead V8s, more often than not fitted with Sidney ’ s own alloy speed parts such as intake manifolds and cylinder heads. By the early 1950s, larger American OHV V8s like Cadillac and Chrysler Hemis became available so, in true hot rod fashion, Sidney wasted no time shoehorning these into his J2X and JR sports racing models.

The first Cadillac engine obtained from the USA was immediately installed into Allard ’ s own J2 racing car, which was entered in the 1950 Tour of Sicily. It also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans that same year, where Allard finished third overall.

The J2, J2X and JR Allard models were also extensively raced in the USA in the early 1950s, scoring convincing road racing victories over the latest Ferraris and Jaguars at the hands of such legends as Tom Cole, Erwin Goldschmidt and Fred Wacker.

Beautiful or brutal – take your choice - these Allards were the epitome of early fifties sports car design with their slim alloy bodywork, cycle fenders, flashy knock-off mounted wire wheels and huge throbbing power plants. Cornering at speed was a challenge as a result of Sidney ’ s affection for a semi-independent front suspension created by chopping a Ford solid axle in half before mounting the two pieces in a swing arm fashion, giving the front end a radical and unusual positive camber appearance.

Handling and braking deficiencies not withstanding, Allards scored major overall race results at Le Mans, Monte Carlo, Watkins Glen, Pebble Beach and Sebring, where the J-2s finished 1st and 2nd in 1950. Obviously, Sidney Allard embraced the American hot rod idiom "There is no substitute for cubic inches". Allard ’ s J2-X cycle-fendered sports cars looked both brutal and beautiful but Sidney knew they were aerodynamically disadvantaged on longer circuits such as Le Mans. Accordingly, the new envelope-bodied and streamlined JR model was introduced for 1953. These were essentially identical mechanically to the J2-X, though seriously modified for circuit racing. Only seven JRs were built, with two cars serving as factory entries at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1953.

This historic Allard JR # NLN 650 was one of the two, driven by none other than Zora Arkus-Duntov (later dubbed the "father of the Corvette"). The sister car, NLN 652 was piloted by Sidney himself and led the first lap of the race, only to retire with a cracked brake drum after three-quarters of an hour. Duntov's JR, co-driven by Ray Merrick, survived until 1:00 AM before it too was withdrawn with engine problems. While running however, it was credited by the Automobile Club de L ’ Oust with a speed of 145.35 miles per hour on the Mulsanne Straight!

After that, NLN 650 returned to America with General Curtis LeMay upon his transfer to the head of the Strategic Air Command. Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing followed, especially those events held at Strategic Air Command air strips. (Likely the good general only had to seek his own permission for such activities.) Drivers included Colonel Reade Tilley and Fred Wacker of Allard "Eightball" J2X fame.

The large air duct on the left fender sprouted during this period in an attempt to provide better engine cooling and still remains on the car.

NLN 650 returned to England and remained inactive for some 20 years until UK based Michael Knowles bid what he described as a “ staggering £3200 ” for the car at an Alexandria Palace Auction in 1977. Shortly thereafter it was purchased by Gordon Keller of Palo Alto, CA who had the car prepared for vintage racing and entered various West Coast events, resulting in a fine second place at the 1981 Monterey Historics.

Syd Silverman then purchased NLN 650 from Keller in 1982, after which the car migrated to the East Coast and was subjected to a total restoration by Chris Butler of D & J Automotive in Dublin, Ohio. After several seasons of vintage racing, NLN 650 was treated to what almost amounts to a second restoration by J. Harden ’ s Vintage Connection of Oklahoma City. During the restoration, a persistent overheating problem was cured and rear safety hubs were installed. (The JR was raced with the water temperature gauge in the 165-180 range).

The two Le Mans JR Allards were re-united in 1990 as part of the Allard gathering at Monterey, after which both cars, NLN 650 and NLN 652, completed trouble-free runs on the Colorado Grand.

The full racing potential of the Le Mans JR was demonstrated by UK guest driver Tony Dron who won the Group 4 race at SVRA ’ s Walkins Glen 50th Anniversary Meeting in 1998. The cars that Mr. Dron put on the trailer included Lister Chevrolets, C and D Type Jaguars and North America ’ s fastest examples of Lotus and Porsche.

The Allard ’ s most recent owner acquired the car in 2001 and now offers it with a comprehensive selection of spares including original components, a logbook dated 1985-1999, a spare bonnet, roll bars for vintage racing, exhaust manifolds, Halibrand quick-change third member, a spare transmission and numerous racing spares. Since its acquisition it has been properly maintained and remains in excellent condition.

A number of 1950s racing cars with a Le Mans history are valued well into the seven figure range; this Allard JR, given its suggested range, will prove to be an excellent investment for the future. Bear in mind too, that ten hot laps around Laguna Seca or Watkins Glen is a lot more fun than a pound of paper in a drawer!

Please note that this lot's year is a 1953 Allard.

Reference Number 11473

as of 7/21/2007

Car 1953 Allard JR Cadillac
VIN 3403 
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