1952 Allard Cadillac JR “Le Mans” Roadster

If hot rods had been invented in England, Sidney Allard would have been their originator. The first postwar production models of the Allard Motor Company 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.

Beautiful or brutal-take your choice-these Allards were the epitome of early ’50s sports car design, with their slim alloy bodywork 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, which gave the front end a radical and unusual positive camber appearance.

Allard’s J2X cycle-fendered sports cars looked both beautiful and brutal, 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 J2X, though seriously modified for circuit racing.

Only seven Allard Cadillac JR Le Mans Roadsters 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. The sister car, NLN 652, was driven by Sidney himself and led the first lap of the race, only to retire after three-quarters of an hour. Duntov’s JR survived until 1 am, before it too was withdrawn with engine problems.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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