Friday, May 4, 2012

Interview with Roger Allard: Part Three

Roger Allard and Jay Leno courtesy Allard Motor Works

So what about the J2X MkII itself? How is it different from the original J2X? The body looks the same. In fact, it’s so close to the original that it’s been accepted by the Allard Registry. It’s in the mechanical and structural details that the Mark II differs, for the better. Like the original, it comes with an American V8 engine. However, it’s a modern engine. The standard is a 360 hp fuel-injected GM RamJet, but there are options, including the famed Chrysler Hemi.

The modern Tremec TKO 5-speed transmission makes the car very driveable. Front and rear suspensions are independent, and adjustable, again like the original. Wilwood disc brakes provide the necessary stopping power.

The cockpit itself is four inches longer than the original, allowing for the installation of bucket seats rather than a bench. Obviously an improvement, especially if you want to take it touring. The instruments are digital, but look so faithful to the original that owners of original Allards are buying them.

The chassis was CAD-designed with safety in mind. It’s a steel tubular structure with roll bars built in everywhere, including around the fuel tank. The car is actually balanced 50/50. It’s custom made in two stages, the rolling chassis and the engine and framing.

Since the original J2X was a race car, I asked if anyone had raced the Mark II. They are working on making a race ready version, which would include such things as kill switches for the electronics. It has been used as a pace car at several vintage events but can’t compete as a vintage car. With all the modern goodies under its hood, it wouldn’t be fair.

So what’s next for the J2X? Allard just shipped the prototype off to Europe the week before I spoke to him, where it was going to hit several shows. They’re expanding into Europe, the Middle East and China. A right hand drive version is in the works, as well as a hardtop and a ragtop.

Guess I’ll have to start buying lottery tickets. In the meantime, a left hand drive in British racing green can live in my virtual garage.

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