CC Capsule: 1954 Allard K2 – Proto-Cobra With World’s Most Contorted Shift Lever

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Passing by the Sports Car Shop always requires a brief stop to see what’s currently on display.  I’d seen this splendid Allard K2 through the garage windows for months, but when it finally made it out front I had to take a closer look. I knew that Allards had a certain cobbled-together quality, despite their handsome bodies. But when I poked my head into the passenger compartment, I  almost couldn’t believe it: Prepare yourself for the worlds most contorted shift stick:

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So which way is first?

Sidney Allard built an ever-changing array of cars, mostly sporting ones, from 1936 to 1966. The big years for Allard were the post-war era, when the combination of big American V8 engines stuffed into a small English roadster created the proto-Cobra.

Allard J2 Leach_07_1000sc

The Allard J2 had a superb racing career, including a third place at LeMans in 1950, and a win at the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally, with Sidney himself at the wheel. Allards were the terror of the west coast sports racing scene well into the fifties.

The K2 was a bit more civilized then the J2, and came with your choice of any Yank V8. This one sports a big Lincoln 317 cu. in. OHV unit with some 160 hp, and a highly primitive solution to fitting the gear shift under the dash.

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The suspension is a pretty primitive affair as well: the front has swing axles. It looks like someone cut a solid forged beam axle in two and mounted the two inner ends on pivots. The closest thing is Ford’s twin-beam truck suspension, but it  minimized camber change by overlapping the two long beam halves. Not so here; just two axle halves pivoting in the middle. It’s quite rare to see that with a front suspension. The rear is a solid axle with a transverse spring, and looks suspiciously like a Ford product. In fact, the whole car has the air of a classic American hot rod, albeit with some nice English touches. That bent-over-a-stump stick shift definitely falls into the Yankee shade-tree category.

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