Allard Motor Works — Getting to Wow

Allard Motor Works — Getting to Wow

Getting to ‘WOW’ !

Whether you’re a car designer, a builder, a restorer, a detailer, a collector or a buyer, the end game is the ubiquitous ‘Wow-Factor’ that consecrates the end product.  For any craftsman in the auto trade, the reward is to ultimately receive a thumbs-up from a collector, a high score from a judge or a raised paddle at an auction. Whether the buyer’s choice is influenced by nostalgia, peer pressure, a latent fantasy or market research, the final decision ultimately comes down to the WOW-Factor. Getting there is often a collective consultive effort between the buyer and a connoisseur of various classic marques. Often the final decision rests on expert eyes that might be drawn to the quality of the fit and finish, while others may drool over the skilled work of the upholsterer, the period-correctness of the components or even the ‘tidiness’ of the wiring harness. The common denominator remains the craftsmanship of those who caringly brought the car from scratch to show quality.

Consistency is critical

So, in this day and age of high tech, labour shortages, supply chain issues and a shrinking pool of experienced tradesmen, is the WOW-Factor still possible?  This is a question that we seriously reflected upon when designing and producing our modern Allard Motor Works J2X®.We are very conscious that as a low-volume manufacturer, we live in a different world than a restorer or individuals building one-off show cars. Our imperative is repeatability, efficiency, cost and meeting the quality and reliability expectations of our customers. If we build ten cars per year, they must be identical in all respects.

Some years ago, I had the privilege to discuss this issue with the late David Hooper, a key engineer with the Allard Motor Company when the original 83 J2X competition roadsters were produced (1951-54). David was very categoric when he replied that “Even with a volume production line, I can assert that only two J2Xs were ‘identical’. They were cars #13 and #14, because they were built the same day.”

From the laser precision of our metal cuts and bends, to the accuracy of the many jigs used in fabrication and assembly, all components on our J2X® were designed from the ground up using CAD. These images are then fine-tuned with our virtual reality design station to be prototyped using our 3D printers for final fit. Once validated, we fabricate the jigs for the final part. Not only do these tools allow us to resolve complex fitment issues, it allows us to design and integrate new components, while still maintaining the period-correct look.

So, has craftsmanship been replaced by technology? Not a chance. What is different today are the materials we use, the tools employed and the creativity to tailor our components in a manner that increases reliability, longevity, safety and comfort on a repeatable and consistent basis. Carefully documented in an extensive fabrication and assembly database, each part and process involved in the build are cross-referenced as to their specification, their source, the labour component, the installation procedure and the pre-delivery quality control testing. Going forward, these ‘recipe books’ leave nothing to interpretation or guess work.

The Right Formula

What we have found in our operation is that they are complimentary. As a low-volume replica manufacturer, we blend high-tech to craftsmanship. By adapting new technology, we are producing a modern high-quality classic vehicle with all of the ‘cachet’ of its ancestors. The big advantages of this marriage are repeatability, the introduction of new materials, tooling and techniques, the durability of materials used, the accuracy of our fit and the quality of our finish.


Meeting the Challenge

As for the WOW-Factor, the fusion of craftsmanship and high tech provides it in spades. Most often it is evident in the smaller items like our one-piece solid aluminum grill. What used to require hours of bending, stretching, welding and screwing metal to produce one grill, now is fabricated in one piece! Now, new technology allows us to carve out a solid 4” slab of aluminum into a beautiful J2X grill with no seams or joints. The same 5-axis CAD router used for our grill also produces six glistening one-piece engine heat exhaust ports to replace the two-piece original units.  This precision is also ‘de rigueur’ when our woodworker carves (with finesse), each of our mahogany shifter knob and pistol-grip parking brake handle. The same precision and skill are applied to smaller details like the laser-etched signatures on the door sills, the knock-offs and the fuel cap. And what can we say about our J2X’s crown jewel –the engine-turned dash, accurately machined on a solid ¼” aluminum sheet? It is of concours quality- all done by an experienced craftsman.

So, true to our motto (Rarely Seen. Never Forgotten.), the WOW-Factor is alive and well at Allard Motor Works with the successful fusion of craftsmanship and current technology.