- Modified by legendary California customizer George Barris
- Painted and pinstriped by the incomparable Von Dutch
- Updated for performance and reliability
- Previously owned by Hollywood actor Jeff Cooper
- Colorado Grand participant
- Displayed at the 2007 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
|Vehicle:||1952 Allard K2 Custom|
|Number Produced:||Just one like this (Allard built 119 K2s)|
|Original List Price:||$300|
|SCM Valuation:||$242,000 (this car)|
|Tune Up Cost:||Data plate on the firewall on right-hand side of the engine|
|Club Info:||Vintage Sports Car Club of America|
|Alternatives:||Mantaray by Dean Jeffries, George Barris’ Cosma Ray, George Barris’ Hirohata Mercury|
This car, Lot 105, sold for $242,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach, CA, auction, on August 19, 2017.
Sydney Allard was a noted British producer of hybrid sports-racing cars in the post-World War II era, beginning in 1945. In those days, the term “hybrid” meant combining a British chassis and an American engine.
Predating Carroll Shelby’s AC Cobra, which employed the same formula, Sydney Allard eschewed little English 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines. Instead, he offered his cars with modified Ford and Mercury flatheads. Later on, he installed big Cadillac and Chrysler OHV V8s. Erwin Goldschmidt’s Cad-powered Allard J2 won the inaugural 1950 Watkins Glen Grand Prix.
Sydney Allard’s cars used a cheap and diabolical independent front-suspension setup. The Allard’s Ford I-beam front axle was literally split and hinged in the middle, so the wheels flopped and bounced wildly on uneven surfaces. That aside, the cars were undeniably fast and quite reliable.
Carroll Shelby and Zora Arkus-Duntov drove Allards in competition, providing both men with the experience of seeing how well big American V8s performed in lightweight sports-racing cars.
A matter of style
Allard built about 119 Model K2s from 1950 to 1952. These were largely street-driven cars — not racers. Our subject car was shipped from London to Noel Kirk Motors in Los Angeles, CA, in 1952. It was originally finished in blue with a red leather interior and a black canvas top.
During the 1960s, Los Angeles-based film and television actor Jeff Cooper bought the car. To make a personal style statement, Cooper commissioned George Barris, Hollywood’s favorite leadslinger, to customize his K2.
The irrepressible Barris chopped the windshield for a lower silhouette. He relocated the headlights from the stock location in the front fenders to a freestanding setup atop a new front bumper, which doubled as a slender nerf bar, then fabricated a complementary rear nerf bar as well.
Barris added full fender skirts with chromed accents and modified the dash with multiple Stewart-Warner instruments. As the piece de resistance, the legendary Kenneth Howard, aka “Von Dutch,” enhanced the bright yellow finish with pinstripe-outlined black scallops and added his distinctive signature.
Goodbye, Cadillac; hello, Ford
In later years, the Allard’s original engine was replaced with a more contemporary 302-ci Ford V8 with twin Edelbrock 4-barrel carburetors. The car has a 4-speed manual gearbox. According to Gooding & Co., it’s equipped with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes.
The Allard’s original split I-beam front axle, with its frantic wheel-hopping tendencies, and the venerable solid rear axle with a transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring, were all retained.
The end result, while a tad garish, is pretty cool.
The current ACC Pocket Price Guide gives a condition 2 Allard K2 a median valuation of $99k. So this customized K2 at $242k, in very good — but not excellent — nick, fetched a sizeable premium over a stock example.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This Allard is certainly striking, in a Brutalist way, and its customizers, George Barris and Von Dutch, were two of the most notable practitioners in their field when the modifications were made. Whether the custom work has improved this car’s already good looks is a moot point.
Despite a modern engine transplant and many other modifications, this custom K2 sold for a lot more than a standard example.
Is customizing a value detractor?
Personalized sports cars weren’t unusual in the Kustom-crazed ’50s to ’60s. Von Dutch pinstriped Earl Bruce’s Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing — and then festooned it with crab-claw flames.
Dean Jeffries extensively customized a Porsche 356 Carrera 2 coupe, with tunneled headlights, 300SL-style roof vents and an Eddie Martinez tuck-and-roll interior.
It was a no-sale at Gooding’s Amelia Island sale in 2016 and is currently being offered at $765,000.
Dean Jeffries’ asymmetrical Mantaray was built on a pre-war Maserati GP chassis. George Barris did several customized Corvettes. Barris’ shop modified bandleader Spike Jones’ Jaguar XK 120, and extensively customized a Jaguar XK 140 for Barry Goldwater.
Interestingly, I couldn’t find the ex-Jeff Cooper Allard in any of George Barris’ books, including Barris Cars of the Stars. And there are no Barris crests on the Allard — although he didn’t mount them on all his cars.
So what do we make of this Allard sale?
I think it was a great deal for the seller and a decent purchase for the buyer.
While actor Jeff Cooper’s cachet is nominal, George Barris’ and Von Dutch’s modifications added significantly to this Allard’s value. It’s as much a piece of rolling art now as it is a cool ’50s sports roadster.
The later engine swap didn’t seem to hurt things either. While I’m not certain this Allard will continue to appreciate, the buyer got a flashy sports roadster with a great story.
(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)