Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Allard's dangerous, ornery and lots of fun

  • Print

If you're not the sort of person who enjoys old cars, you might wonder why someone would want something that is, by today's standards, an anachronism.

You might assume car collectors buy a particular old car or truck because it's associated with a happy memory. But it's just as likely the vehicle's lack of modernity is part of the appeal.

The thought came to mind as I found myself in my friend's 1951 Allard, a car created by Sydney Allard, a Brit who, shortly after the Second World War, decided to stuff big American V-8 engines into English coachwork. The same pattern was followed by others, including Carroll Shelby, nearly a decade later.

While Allard offered different models, it's the two-seat roadsters that garnered the most sales -- and racing victories. Ford V-8s and three-speed manual transmissions were standard; Cadillac V-8s and Chrysler Hemi V-8s were available as options.

The car I rode in, a 1951 K2 roadster, had just over 9,800 original kilometres and was one of 118 built that year. It had a Cadillac 5.4-liter V-8, good for 160 horsepower.

If that doesn't sound like a lot, it is. The Allard weighs less than 2,800 pounds. In other words, this is an engine with seats and a small trunk attached.

Climbing into the car, you'll notice all of the things this car doesn't have. It has snap-on side curtains, rather than roll-up windows. Door locks? Nope. Grab handles? Nope. Sun visors? Nah. Radio? Nada. Arm rest? Don't see one. Seat belts? Negative. And you can forget power steering, power brakes or climate control.

The Allard lacks the boatload of electronics that enhances the modern driver's abilities. There are no traction aids, stability control or blind-spot monitors. You can't drive it while talking on a mobile phone or eating a burrito.

Consider the Allard's instrument panel. It's made of metal. No padding, no airbags (aside from the one in the seat) and no seat belts. A crash can't end happily. You get the bare essentials: seats, carpet, instrument panel, windshield, lights, skinny tires and a massive V-8.

The cabin is short, not only in length, but in height. Being 6-3, my knees were positioned behind the instrument panel, commingling with its wiring.

Once under way, the Allard proves to be a burly beast of a car, like a pit bull that you can barely contain. Cornering causes the passenger to slide across the flat leather seats; there's nothing to hang onto. And you can't lean against the door; it's liable to pop open.

This lack of civility is something true sports car purists embrace. A true sports car challenges the driver's skill every step of the way, lending scant comfort. It hasn't been beaten into submission by safety experts and trial lawyers.

It's dangerous, it's ornery and it's a lot of fun.

To some degree, every car more than 45 years old has a primal quality that's more than a road to yesteryear. They are a true test of skill and something every driver should try at least once.

Put it on your bucket list.

-- The Virginian-Pilot

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2013 F12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - The Floodway Connection

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Which of Manitoba's new landlord-tenant rules are you looking forward to most?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google