Dave Hans was reading through a Chicago newspaper one Sunday morning in 1986 when a classified ad caught his attention: "1950 Allard, all orig, alum body, needs minor restoration. Sitting 20 years. $9,500."
Dave immediately picked up the phone and made arrangements to make the three-hour drive to Peoria to see the car. Only 89 Allard J2s were made by the London-based company, so any J2 would readily get attention no matter how long it had been sitting.
The old garage that housed the Allard those 20 years had a dirt floor, no glass in the windows, no door and plenty of holes in the roof to let in the elements that could possibly ravage the car. "There was not one square inch anywhere on the car that was not covered with dirt, grease, rust or general decay," Dave says.
However, the car was complete. All of the bodywork was there and the windshield was unbroken. But the Allard was just in terrible condition. The frame rails had to be replaced because they were literally rusted in half. There had been rain dripping down on the center of the car. Consequently, the very center of the frame rails literally broke in two.
"In order to get the car home, we had to jack up the center of the car to get it on the trailer. It was terrible looking," says Dave, who now lives in Barrington. The ensuing restoration took more than 20 years and included a journey into the history of Allard chassis number 1733.
Dave's first step was in confirming the validity of those big fenders. He contacted Tom Lush, who was not only a noted historian and author of perhaps the most comprehensive book about Sydney Allard and his cars, but an engineer for the Allard Motor Co. and Allard's co-driver when the pair won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952.
Lush was able to pull the build card for Dave's chassis, which noted that it had been "fitted with K2 wings." You can't get much more definitive than that.
A highly accomplished racer with a British Hillclimb Championship to his credit, Sydney Allard started building race cars bearing his name in the 1930s, when he was barely 20 himself. The first car to wear the "Allard Special" name on its grille was a home-brew machine made when Allard mated a lightweight Bugatti racing body to a salvaged 1934 Ford Model 40, with a Flathead V-8 engine for hill climbs.
Built for competition and introduced for 1950, the J2 was a track star from the get-go. Starting with a robust frame with two deeply formed rails connected by four large-diameter spars, the J2 maintained the split front axle, but used coil springs and hydraulic shocks at each corner. Allard designed a three-part track rod with two idler arms behind the front axle, along with long radius arms to locate and isolate the split I-beams. The engine was set back well behind the front wheels to aid handling and traction.
A shortened Ford drive shaft connected to a De Dion rear axle assembly, and inboard rear brakes were also standard.
Fortunately, starting with a complete car, Dave was able to restore the Allard to its current award-winning status, and with a couple of trophies earned, he is now ready to drive the car more. At its first showing, his Allard J2 won a first in its class at the Meadow Brook Concours d' Elegance in Michigan. The Allard also won a first in class at the Concours d' Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, in 2014.
Allards originally fitted with Cadillac V-8s used the Cadillac/La Salle three-speed manual transmission, but Dave replaced that unit with a GM/Muncie M-20 wide-ratio four-speed manual.
J2s came from the factory with a pair of six-volt batteries, one below each seat, but with ground clearance an issue, Dave had the Allard converted to a single 12-volt battery and mounted it in the car above the rear axle.
Dave's beautifully restored Allard J2 is a testament to the legacy of hot rodders the world over and the car became a blueprint for the Sunbeam Tigers and Shelby Cobras that would follow a decade later.
Dave's 1950 Allard, along with many other rare and vintage automobiles, will be highlighted at Grand Dominion's 2017 Cruisin' with the Classics Car Show from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, at the Del Webb active-adult community, 3555 Grand Dominion Circle, Mundelein.
The show, which takes place in Grand Dominion's Lakeside Lodge parking lot, is free to the public. However, food and money donations will be collected for the Fremont Food Pantry. Last year, the show collected three truckloads of food and more than $4,500. A chance to win a grand prize, a $300 Visa gift card, will be given with each money and food donation.