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Lot 326: Allard M1 5.0-litre Drophead Coupé

The Beaulieu Sale, Bonhams (7 September 2013)

The unique Allard M1 offered here was first owned by a man of some stature in Devon, for Arthur Ferguson-Davie was not only a baronet but also a clergyman, an Army chaplain and an enthusiastic motorist. 'LTA 300' was supplied new by Hughes of Exeter, then one of the country's largest Ford dealerships and also an agent for Allard. This arrangement made sense as the major mechanical components of most Allards were supplied by Ford. The car was delivered finished in black with maroon upholstery. Its original logbook reveals that the Allard first changed hands in November 1954, passing to inventor John George Pax Weatherlake, patentee of a novel type of sextant. 'LTA 300' was acquired in Somerset as a 'barn find' in 2006 by the current (third) owner, internationally renowned furniture designer Mark Wilkinson, OBE, though he had been aware of its existence for over 30 years. Mr Weatherlake generously parted with it as a gift. Complete but obviously requiring full restoration, the car was then totally stripped for inspection and assessment. It was decided that the first step in the restoration should be to send the engine to the highly recommended H&H Flatheads in La Crescenta, California and to incorporate the kind of upgrades that Sydney Allard would have approved of. H&H's rebuild involved enlarging the engine to 5.0 litres capacity while other improvements included Red's Headers exhaust manifolds; bespoke stainless steel exhaust system with cast alloy fishtails; aluminium high-capacity radiator; Pacet thermostatically controlled electric fan; and a Mocal 16-row oil cooler. On H&H's recommendation a rebuilt Ford C4 three-speed automatic gearbox was fitted. This transmission was often mated to the Flathead V8 as original equipment in the USA and adapters are readily available. The original manual steering column shift was removed and gear selection is now via a period-style Hurst Pro-Matic shifter. The gearbox too was fitted with an oil cooler, which was considered necessary to enable a period trailer to be towed. Unsuitable for the C4 automatic gearbox, the rear axle was replaced with a Ford 3.07:1 unit as found in the 1979 Ford Mustang GT, narrowed to suit, while the torque tube was replaced with a custom-made prop shaft. The chassis was completely stripped, shot blasted, red oxide primed and finished with four coats of chassis enamel, prior to which it had been modified to accommodate the C4 transmission. The rear of the chassis was boxed in around the fuel tank and generally strengthened to facilitate the fitting of a removable tow bar, while the engine mounts were dropped 2" to lower the centre of gravity and improve under-bonnet clearance. Mounting points were provided for lap-type seat belts. The suspension leaf springs were rebuilt; the kingpins and all bushes replaced at the front; and bespoke Pro-Tech 600-Series double-adjustable tubular dampers fitted in place of the original lever-arm type. The drum front brakes were replaced with ventilated discs and single piston callipers from a Suzuki Grand Vitara while the rear discs came from the front of a Grand Vitara diesel van. Dual circuit braking was accomplished via an ATE Mondeo 1" master cylinder, a remote dual fluid reservoir being mounted on the scuttle together with a Lockheed servo. All components were supplied by Compbrake. The car now has a stainless steel fuel tank and a Carter high-performance pump supplying two Stromberg 97 carburettors via an adjustable pressure regulator. A new wiring loom was fitted together with Cibié halogen headlights; an electric screen washer; and Lucas flashing indicators (the original semaphores were deleted). Beyond repair, the original rear lights were replaced with Lucas L542 items and reversing and rear fog lights added. A hazard warning system and indicator lights for high beam and the rear fogs were fitted also. All instruments and switches were rebuilt and re-calibrated by Speedy Cables. The wheels were shot-blasted, trued, painted and shod with 600x16" Firestone whitewall tyres. Damaged wheel studs, replacements for which were not economically available, meant that all the original studs were replaced with M14s, the nearest metric equivalent. As a spare wheel would swallow up much of the restricted boot space, the car was equipped instead with a Conti- Comfort quick repair/compressor system housed in a storage space created behind the drop-down access door carrying the rear number plate. The bodywork was stripped, the aluminium panelling repaired as necessary and 90% of the original ash framework replaced. All woodwork was treated with preservative and any corroded steel panels carefully repaired. The body was reattached to the chassis with a closed cell neoprene strip sandwiched in between, and the voids between the frame and the aluminium cladding filled with fire-resistant structural foam. The front foot wells were deepened by 4" in order to avoid a potentially uncomfortable, virtually straight-legged driving position. The car was also fitted with bespoke running boards, which, in the opinion of most observers, significantly improved its appearance – 'tying it all together' as one of them put it. The hood frame was reconditioned and carefully reshaped to improve its appearance, and then re-covered by Aerotrim of Westbury who were also responsible for the leather seats and interior trim, and the Wilton carpet. Comfort and safety are greatly enhanced by the provision of a Holden Vintage & Classic cockpit heater/demister. The original paintwork was black cellulose but is now a deep midnight blue two-pack, applied by Image Car & Commercials of Calne. All brightwork was refurbished and either triple-chromed or replaced. Holden Vintage & Classic and Paul Beck Vintage Supplies supplied miscellaneous items of trim, mirrors, etc. All superseded parts have been retained. Completed in 2007 at an estimated cost of some £100,000, this no-expense-spared labour of love is described as in generally excellent condition and offered with sundry restoration invoices, the aforementioned original logbook, Swansea V5C document and a full account of the rebuild.

Lot Details
Auction The Beaulieu Sale
Bonhams, Hampshire, UK
Lot Number326
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£51000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£58620
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis numberM1096
Engine number7212352
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors