Super Charger. Sydney Allard used to fit Shorrock superchargers to Ford Anglias, then enter them in the Monte Carlo Rally. Now the Allardette is back. Words John Simister. Photography Matthew Howell. Ford Anglia Allardette Supercharged by Sydney for Monte success.
We’re having lunch at The Plough in Ford. A Ford, a small one, is parked outside. As we eat, Alan Allard is transporting us back to his Monte Carlo Rally days with navigator Rob Mackie, sitting opposite. That’s Allard as in son of Sydney, creator of Allard sports cars and the odd dragster. Sydney is the only person to have won the Monte in a car of his own make, which he did in 1952 driving an Allard P1.
Alan and Rob are chuckling about the time they overtook, downhill and on ice, Eugen Böhringer’s Porsche 904 on the Grenoble-to Chambéry stage. Amazing what you can do in a Cortina GT. The pair had been competing together since 1962, when they used a standard-spec Anglia 105E. But 1963 is the key year for our rendezvous today, because then they were in an Allardette, just like the one outside The Plough. So was Sydney.
An Allardette? It’s an Anglia with a Shorrock C75B supercharger, and a few chassis mods to help divert a near-doubled power output to the road in a reasonably tidy fashion. You could buy the kit from Allard in Clapham, South London, or you could buy a complete, ready-converted Allardette from the attached Ford main dealer, confusingly named Adlards. About 100 Allardettes resulted (including a particularly fearsome one uprated with a 1498cc Cortina GT engine and a larger Shorrock C142B), which made the hot Anglias eligible for the Monte’s modified-saloons class.
‘Lloyd advances the ignition timing a little. This fires the Allardette with significantly more enthusiasm’
One big benefit of doing this, and entering many other rallies such as Britain’s RAC, was the publicity that the Allard company would gain for Shorrock superchargers. It had recently done a deal with Chris Shorrock, the inventor, and Rubery Owen, the components manufacturer that then owned the Shorrock company, to become the worldwide Shorrock distributor and the manufacturer of kits for various popular cars. Minis, Heralds, Sprites, Midgets, MGBs, Beetles and, of course, lots of Fords could all have their induction forced, often to great effect. In one heady month, Allard sold 75 kits at around £100 each.
‘There were 13 Anglias on the 1963 Monte,’ Alan recalls. ‘Pat Moss was in one of them. But only three finished: our two and a French crew.’ They did more than that, Sydney and co-driver Tom Fisk winning their class (32nd overall), with Alan and Rob second in class (49th overall). Erik Carlsson won, in his Saab 96.
Further proof of the Shorrock’s reliability came in the 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège rally, two Allardettes and their crews subjected to 90 hours of often flat-out driving with just one hour of rest, at Sofia. ‘At the time it was the longest, roughest and toughest rally in Europe and possibly the world,’ says Alan, still surprised that they did it. ‘Quite mad; ridiculous, really,’ adds Rob, fondly. ‘All those mountain passes with no barriers…’
‘The Allards like the idea of seeing the new car compete in the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique’
Now a new Allardette is waiting for us. Lloyd Allard, Alan’s son, searched for signs of Allardette survivors, particularly the works cars, with a view to restoring one in today’s Allard Sports Cars workshop where a ‘continuation’ Allard JR sports-racer is under construction. Having drawn a blank, Lloyd set about building a continuation Allardette. ‘I hate the term “replica”,’ he says, regarding the new car as a logical progression, built by the same company, from those that went before, albeit with a time gap of 56 years.
The Allards have done this simply because they thought it would be fun, and they like the idea of seeing the new one compete in the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique. It’s a 1960 Anglia found in Devon a little over a year ago, one of the earliest 105Es, which had been restored (to a point) in the 1990s. ‘A lot of the work was covering up rust,’ says Lloyd. ‘The floor was mostly original with a few patches, but I don’t like overlapping metal so our expert welder, William Jennings, cut them out and butt-welded new steel. There’s no sign of crash damage, and the doors and wings are original.’
After a repaint in the Ambassador Blue of Sydney’s and Alan’s rally cars, it was ready for its new Allardette role, complete with an Ermine White sweep over the rear wings. Alan’s car, 856 AYO, wore the narrow, but still aluminium-mesh, front grille of a high-spec Anglia van, while Sydney’s (403 EYW) had the full-width grille of a De Luxe saloon. The new Allardette, then, celebrates Sydney’s machine, complete with rally plates and the number 185 from the 1963 Monte. Three chrome ‘Allardette’ script badges, too: ‘They’re original,’ says Alan, ‘and we’ve got another 15.’ Enough for five more cars.
The engine, built by Specialised Engines, retains the original 997cc, 8.9:1 compression ratio (high for the era) and ridiculously short-stroke, hollow crankshaft. A hefty 1¾in SU H6 carburettor, with intake trumpet but no air filter, is vigorously sucked through by the C75B eccentric-vane supercharger, itself driven at engine speed (they tend to break if revved continually over 6000rpm), but in this case slightly over-speeding because the drive belt has worked its way deeper into its pulley. It’s a neat installation with its finned inlet manifold, and once in its stride it gives around 7psi of boost – 0.5bar in modern engine parlance. Other changes from the form in which this Anglia left the Dagenham production line are front disc brakes, lowered and stiffened suspension with uprated rear lever-arm dampers, and a pair of anti-tramp bars, or radius arms, for the rear axle. Their forward hinge-point is speed-bump-strikingly low. Three extra lights adorn the nose, but so far the Allards haven’t fitted the roof-mounted, rotatable spotlight used in the 1960s.
Inside, we find lightweight bucket seats for a visual nod to the Microcells used in period, full harnesses to hold their occupants, and a leather-rim, aluminium-spoke steering wheel that’s large by today’s standards, but smaller than the spindly Anglia original. It might be from a Cortina 1600E. Extra dials abound, including an Allard-badged period boost gauge and a revcounter, also bearing the family crest, mounted high on the right. ‘You might find the brakes a bit soft,’ warns Lloyd. ‘I bled them for ages but there still seems to be air in them somewhere. And it tramlines on these tyres.’ They are proper Dunlop SP Sport 85R stage-rally tyres, chunky and blocky. Noisy, too, I’m about to discover as I navigate my way through the Allardette’s symphony of sounds.
I last drove an Anglia in 1974, a pale blue 1965 one belonging to a university friend. We fitted it with bigger front brakes plundered from an Anglia Super 123E abandoned in the university car park. We might have liberated the Super’s 1198cc engine and all-synchromesh gearbox, too. Despite the vast tract of time between then and now, the Anglia’s upright windscreen and the blatant, bilateral, anodized-aluminium symmetry of its dashboard are instantly familiar, as are the long, spindly gearlever and the bonnet-release that’s pretending to be a heater control.
Less familiar is the laidback driving position forced by the low, and fixed, seat. First gear is a stretch (and a crunch, if you forget to nudge second gear’s synchro first to still the gear cluster) away. So is the top of the steering wheel.
Turn the key – yes, a key start, modern in 1960 – and it sounds much like an Anglia usually sounds, just louder. The engine should give around 80bhp, just over twice the original 39bhp, helped by a freer-flowing exhaust and a camshaft that opens the valves further for longer. Is that wise, when a supercharger is all about low-end torque and the feeling of a bigger engine, rather than a peakier, more manic one? We’ll see.
What hasn’t happened on start-up is the appearance of a cloud of smoke aft, such as my Shorrock-supercharged 1959 Mini used to generate. ‘It’s because the oil accumulates in the bottom of the supercharger,’ Alan explains. ‘This one doesn’t seem to be smoking. I’m worried now.’ The Shorrock uses a total-loss lubrication system, the oil metered through a gap around a very precisely machined pin. A blockage here did for my Mini’s Shorrock, but Alan has incorporated an oil-feed adjuster in this one.
I leave him to worry about this as I set off on a familiarisation run. The straight-cut first gear’s whine gives way to helically cut quietness from the transmission, the tyres now providing a sonic substitute as their drone rises in pitch. We’re wandering over the damp road as cambers change, the Anglia’s imprecise steering box weighing up alternative headings rather than nailing a committed course. No matter; you soon get used to it and let the Anglia find its own direction, which on average coincides with the one you intend.
The brakes? They do work, if you press hard enough and trust the floor not to thwart the pedal’s downward thrust. And once you’re fully recalibrated, it all starts to flow. What hasn’t emerged yet is a torrent of supercharged torque. It feels a bit flat, coming to some sort of life only if revved. These are still early shakedown days for this Allardette, so Lloyd experimentally advances the ignition timing a little. This fires the Allardette with significantly more enthusiasm and reveals the engine’s true character, one that is perhaps not quite as intended.
Below 4000rpm, when it should be thrusting lustily, it still feels flat. Above that point it picks up, boost builds and the Shorrock adds its own whine of finely chopped air pulses. The Anglia rushes on to 5000rpm, hurtles headlong into full sprint mode by 6000rpm, and is clearly game for a thousand or two beyond that if only the Shorrock can keep its vanes from channelling grooves in the casing. That would be the end of the supercharger, if the shaft didn’t snap first (trust me, I’ve been through all of this), so the post-6000 revscape will have to remain unexplored. Yes, it needs a calmer camshaft. The combination of a narrow power band and wide gear ratios makes for a rather scalloped acceleration curve, but there’s no doubt that the Allardette is potentially quite a quick machine. And with the power flowing, you become aware less of the steering’s wanderings and more of the alternative mode of cornering-line adjustment, using the right foot. That said, the rear suspension is a bit too soft at the moment (we have all agreed), so it bottoms out, the anti-tramp bars’ mountings snag too often and the traction is almost too good, to the detriment of the power-oversteer potential that lies within.
With some fine-tuning, this will be a great car. It will also be for sale, ready for its new owner to go historic rallying. The Allards will be sorry to see it go, but they can always build another. Later in our day, Alan takes over the driving seat while I take in the view once seen by Rob Mackie. Over half a century on it’s clear that Alan’s spark is undimmed, that he is still empathetic with the Allardette as he squirts it through gaps in the traffic.
‘Alan never frightened me,’ Rob Mackie observes, ‘and boy, could he go downhill on ice. In all those years, we argued only once. The oil pressure gauge kept dropping on corners, which I thought was important. Alan didn’t.’
The new Allardette, you’ll be pleased to know, has excellent oil pressure.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 1960 Ford Anglia Allardette
Engine 997cc four-cylinder, OHV, SU H6 carburettor, Shorrock C75B supercharger
Max Power 80bhp (est) @ 6500rpm
Max Torque 77lb ft (est) @ 3300rpm
Transmission Four-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Front: MacPherson struts, coil springs, track control arms, anti-roll bar.
Rear: live axle located by semi-elliptic leaf springs and longitudinal radius arms, lever-arm dampers
Steering Recirculating ball
Brakes Discs front, drums rear
Weight 750kg approx
Top speed 95mph (est)
0-60mph 11sec (est)
Below Allard-badged revcounter and ‘Shorrock Power’ hub badge on the steering wheel are period extras.
Left, right and below right Alan Allard, son of Sydney, rallied an Allardette to Monte Carlo in 1963; with period-correct supercharging, this Allardette is a fully restored ‘continuation’ car.