To be sold at Bonhams' Scottsdale Auction, Friday January 27th 2023: Le Mans winner Maston Gregory’s first racecar and campaigned by Gregory with Hemi power at Sebring in 1953, among other events. Comprehensively restored and fitted with 5-speed, accompanied by 3-speed transmission.
1952 Allard J2X Chrysler Hemi
Bali Blue with Red Interior
Imagine a British built alloy bodied sports racer with a powerful American V8 engine, low slung cockpit, wire wheels, and fantastic cornering. If you’re envisioning the Shelby Cobra you might be right, but Allard did it a full decade before Shelby, with cars that conquered top racing venues worldwide, inspiring leagues of younger upstarts to build performance cars with equal fortitude and passion.
Founded in 1945 by Sydney Allard, the tiny south-west London company would struggle for thirteen years before its demise, but in that brief time, Allard would produce a remarkable 1900 cars and go on to become world-renowned for building some of the finest sports and racing cars of the period. Much like Shelby and Zora Duntov, who both drove Allards competitively, the allure was the power to weight ratio so effectively achieved in these cars. Having spent time developing more conservative cars, the J2 was a huge departure for Allard as he realized the booming market for sports and competition cars, especially in North America. Early examples were shipped to the US with Mercury flathead V8 engines but eventually Allard built cars without engines and shipped them to the states where a wide range of American V8 units could be installed. Highly competitive in 1950, a Cadillac powered J2 took third place at Le Mans. In the 9 years of competition, Allard earned 40 first place victories, 32 second place wins, 30 third places, and numerous other top five places.
In 1951 the J2 was modified to create the J2X (extended). Essentially the same chassis as the J2, the X employed different positioning for the front suspension which moved the engine forward 7.5” allowing significantly more cockpit space, pushing the front of the car forward beyond the front wheels. The hand formed alloy bodies were built around robust frames featuring coil spring front suspension with telescopic dampers, de Dion type rear axle, and inboard Alfin rear drum brakes. The combination of powerful and reliable American engines mated to lightweight alloy bodied cars would prove to be a success, unleashing a torrent of further competition sports racers by the 1960s.
Rare by any measure, a factory J2X Allard is both a prized example of period racing and expert construction at a time when sports car manufacturing was advancing almost as quickly as the cars could lap the circuit. With just 83 examples constructed between 1951-1954, according to Colin Warnes of the Allard Registry, chassis #J3065 would invite the rare distinction of purchase by famed sports car driver Masten Gregory. The written reference to his ownership is documented with the history of this car and accordingly quoted here when referencing a future owner in written correspondence regarding this car, chassis #J3065:
“Dear Mr. Takei,
Thank you for contacting us, we’ve been trying to track down your car for some time after we lost contact with Mr. Tamagawa.
Your J2X was shipped to the US (dealer not noted) on July 2nd 1952. The original color was royal blue with red interior. It was shipped without an engine, but our records indicate that a Mercury engine was initially installed and then switched to Chrysler power. The first owner was a guy named Maston Gregory…you may have heard of him? He raced the car at least three times (’53 Sebring) and winning his third race… from there he went on to other cars, and the rest we say is history. Little is known after Gregory owned the car except that Ed Verville purchased it in 1989.
Masten Gregory would go on to significant road racing fame, but in his early years he had tragically lost his father. Looking for ways to put his inheritance to good use, he elected to purchase this car which, as Warnes indicates, was shipped to the US July 2, 1952. Likely the most famous of the J2X models built, Gregory had the car shipped to the US without an engine. Once in the US, as was most typically done with Allard J2 cars, a Mercury flathead engine was first installed, and Gregory competed in his first race using that engine. However, given Gregory’s historic demands for speed, the Mercury succumbed and blew a head gasket causing Gregory to retire from the race. The next season, in 1953, Gregory smartly installed the more powerful and torquey Chrysler 331 Hemi just in time to compete at Sebring. Retired again due to suspension failure, the undaunted Gregory continued eventually achieving a first place at the 1953 Stillwater SCCA, Oklahoma Grand Prix.
Gregory, himself a standalone volume in the annals of motorsports history would go on to become the first American driver to score a podium finish in his first Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, earn a victory at Le Mans, and continue to several other notable victories. Carroll Shelby called him “the fastest American to ever go over and race a Grand Prix car”. Jim Clark modestly considered him a hero.
After Gregory’s ownership, the car is believed to have been acquired by notable British car collector Ed Verville, around the 1980s. Masten Gregory had passed away in 1985 so it is likely that his family sold the car to Verville. By 1992, the Allard Registry reports that Masami Tamagawa, Tokyo, Japan purchased the car through Hill & Vaughn, Santa Monica, CA. Phil Hill, a good friend to Masten Gregory, was then partnered in one of the world’s finest private restoration shops in the world. Masami owned the car for nearly two decades, enjoying it leisurely until he became too frail to safely drive the car. The current consigning owner purchased the car with Fantasy Junction’s assistance in 2011. Shortly after his purchase, the current owner, a well-known Southern California performance car enthusiast, enlisted the services of Maeco Motorsports, LLC, Northridge, CA to refine and perfect the car to the high standards exhibited today. Work performed on the car included comprehensive body and paint preparation with the application of proper alloy primer and Porsche Bali Blue paint, refinement and fitting for all trim, windshield and other trim installation, new dash welting and hood seals, and replacement of all lighting. Mechanical work included the installation of four Alfin brake drums ($2,400), an NOS Allard tachometer ($1,850), painting for suspension parts, new flywheel, pressure plate, and clutch, a new bell-housing adapter, and a TKO 600 Tremec 5-speed manual transmission (original three-speed manual gearbox included with the car). Much of the work performed on the engine and transmission included a new driveshaft, new bearing races, shaft seal, new universal joints, and machining during the rebuild for the differential. All this work was done while the interior was removed and sent out for reupholstery. The floor panels were disassembled to facilitate removal of the transmission. Further work included rebuilding the brakes, front and rear suspension, installing new shock absorbers, a new wiring loom, 60 amp alternator configured in a generator casing, a rebuilt starter, a modified thermostat, a custom fuel sender, and the installation of Brooklands windscreens. The red leather upholstery was completed in 2012 and installed in the car in time to show the completed car at the 2012 Palm Desert Concours event.
Today, this famous Allard presents as a comprehensive restoration, beautifully prepared with superlative cosmetics. With nearly $100,000.00 invested in the exemplary restoration, the results are very rewarding particularly given the history and import of this particular J2X. The beautiful Bali Blue paint has been expertly applied to the hand formed alloy body panels resulting in glossy finishes, deep luster, and even coverage. The various plated and polished trim parts are in excellent condition with proper fit to the alloy coachwork. The body integrity is excellent, with consistent shut lines and tight closures on the single piece bonnet and doors. The painted wire wheels are correct per the period, surrounding the front aluminum Alfin drum brakes while the rear brakes are mounted inboard. The wire wheels are finished with chrome plated knockoffs. Vredestein Sport Classic tires are mounted on all five wire wheels, showing ample tread remaining.
The red leather interior is in excellent condition overall showing virtually no areas of use on the seating surfaces, supportive side bolsters, or notable use to the matching red carpets. Correct materials and trim, correct foam padding, correct dash and instruments and switches with excellent clarity on the faces and glass, complete the sporty interior. A set of vintage competition seatbelts have been installed. Storage for the car is cleverly resolved in two areas including the areas forward of the cowl, appropriate for tools or small items via access when lifting the hood. Storage is also available behind the removable seatbacks. Every aspect of the interior is beautifully prepared including the twin Brooklands windscreens, engine turned dashboard, Bluemel’s Brooklands polished alloy four-hub steering wheel, the cleverly concealed Tremec transmission, and handsomely trimmed cockpit.
The engine compartment has been restored to a very high level with show-quality detail applied to all components, hardware, hoses, and lines, all of which show only mild evidence of use. The engine is painted bright red with Chrysler FirePower logos across the valve covers, topping the famed Hemi heads. Dual four-barrel Edelbrock carburetors, an aluminum Weiand 7263 intake manifold, polished trim, a 60 amp alternator housed in an authentic generator casing, carefully prepared lines, hoses, and various hardware complete the engine compartment with confidence and excellence befitting an Allard of this stature. The undercarriage reveals the quality of the restoration was not limited in any respect. All finishes and components viewed in the undercarriage are correct per original specifications and the chassis shows minimal signs of road use. Seventy years later, the clever engineering, chassis construction and current restoration come together in a wonderful tribute to these groundbreaking cars. Inboard Alfin brakes, de Dion rear end, lightweight construction, and Hemi power make for a truly amazing car. This car is accompanied by an attachable chrome roll bar, a spare set of chrome plated Turrino wire wheels, and what is believed to be the original 3-speed gearbox.
One of the finest examples available today and very likely the premier historically important Allard J2X remaining in public hands, this Allard represents a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an historically important sports car featuring Masten Gregory ownership, superb original construction, and recent restoration work. With Gregory’s first place Hemi powered win at the 1953 Stillwater SCCA, Oklahoma Grand Prix and other documented early participation. These races are important to the history of this car not only due to Masten Gregory’s ownership but also validation of this Allard with a 5428cc engine (331 cu. in.) having competed in international level period racing, which opens the door for FIA papers and participation in premier competition events with Hemi power. This Allard would run against C-types and others with a distinct performance and cost advantage against cars from this period. With the quality of the preparation, the provenance and power under the hood, this Allard is sure to offer exciting performance on tours, premier historic events, or participation in club outings.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608