1946 Allard K1
8-cyl. 3622cc/86hp 2bbl
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From 1946-54, Allard built the K series of sports cars that included the K1, K2 and K3. These were all two-seater convertibles designed by company founder Sydney.
The early K series cars called the Allard K1 were made from 1946-50 when Sydney Allard gained access to a number of war surplus Ford flathead V-8s and other Ford parts. The box section chassis of the K1 was shared, at varying lengths, with other Allards of the time and is clothed in a functional but not unpleasing steel body with separate wings. The body was tightly wrapped around the mechanical components and cockpit to keep weight and frontal area low. Unlike some of the racier Allards, the K1 was primarily intended to be a road car that could occasionally be raced, so it actually had a luggage compartment accessible behind the seats. The front suspension was independent and cleverly consists of a standard Ford beam axle cut in half and used to form lower arms with the transverse leaf spring acting as the upper arm. Movement was controlled by long radius arms. The rear suspension consisted of a conventional Ford live axle with a transverse leaf spring and mounted using a torque tube. Stopping power was by hydraulically operated drums all round. Some K1s were sold as chassis only.
1949 saw the introduction of the Allard K2, which remained until 1952. It was very much a refinement of the K1 and saw a move to coil springs all round with a new de Dion rear axle offered as an option. Externally, the body is quite similar to the K1 but is a bit smoother and features three prominent oval “portholes” on each flank. Manufacturing quality was improved for the Allard K2 and wire wheels were offered as an option.
The Allard K3 then replaced the K2 in 1952 and continued in production until 1954. It employed a new chassis that was both lighter and stiffer, and was intended as a practical tourer. The de Dion rear axle became standard for the K3. It featured an all-enveloping alloy body with an opening boot and a bench seat. Unfortunately, it fell short of expectations and only a few were produced.
Although the Ford flathead V-8 was the default engine for the Allard K1, in typical Allard fashion Cadillac and Lincoln V-8s were also fitted. The Allard K2 was also produced with these engines and added the Mercury 239 cubic inch V-8 to the line-up. It was the same story with the K3, although this had the iconic Chrysler “Hemi” V-8 with dual four-barrel carbs available as well. All variants, though, drove through a Ford three-speed manual gearbox to a Ford final drive.
The Allard K1 and K2, with their relatively sophisticated suspension, light weight and big engines were very quick cars for the late 1940s and early 1950s. Even at the end of their production run they could outrun most other cars of the era. Though small and relatively impractical, they are not cramped with the side screens fitted and the hood up though, but the lack of an opening boot makes access to luggage tricky. The K3 suffers from a large turning circle, difficult access, and poor heating and ventilation. The small number of cars built also means that specific parts are not readily available off the shelf but as far as the major components that were mass-produced by the Big Three in America go, there’s an adequate supply of most spares. Allards are also simple cars in general, so they’re easier to live with than some of their more exotic peers.
For similar no frills, raw sports car driving, cars like the Healy Silverstone and Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica make sound alternatives. If looking for a period match of V-8 power and light weight, then some of the better hot rods of the era might even be worth a look.