Jonathan Rose, a vintage car restorer, will be looking to continue the Allard legacy in the Allard Tailwagger II, which had been sat languishing in a garage for over 40 years.
Tailwagger II, registration FGP 750, was the second car Sydney Allard built for himself. Allard started competing in 1929 and soon decided that Ford-based specials were the right cars for hill climbing and trialling, so began building his own cars based on a Ford V8 chassis. People liked his cars so much that he started taking orders for them and built 12 cars before World War II.
When a new, more powerful Ford engine came out in 1938, Allard bought it for FGP 750 and prepared the car for hill climbing. Allard took part in the very first Prescott Hill Climb in 1939 and took the course record that year, before competition stopped during World War II.
FGP 750 was sold soon after the war and had sat in a garage since 1971 until two years ago, when Jonathan contacted the owner to ask if he’d consider selling it.
Jonathan said: “I was looking for a car that would be suitable for vintage racing and this fitted the bill. It had an incredible history at Prescott and pre-war events.”
Des Sowerby bought the car as a young man and was reluctant to let it go, even though it had been out of action for over 40 years. So Jonathan asked Des if he would agree for him to pay to get it up and running again, and Des was happy for him to have it on loan for as long as he wanted.
Jonathan said: “I get on really well with Des and I’m really lucky to have the car to use. I like to get him involved with what I’m doing. The vintage scene is as much about the people as the cars.”
Determined to give the car a second chance to shine, Jonathan got to work and gave the car its new lease of life. Fittingly for a car that earned the inaugural course record at Prescott, Jonathan’s first hill climb in the car was at the renowned Gloucestershire course. He said: “I prepared it and got it running rather badly for Prescott a couple of years ago and it’s gradually getting better and better. It’s quite rapid, I’m just not a fantastic driver yet, although I am improving. I did a hill climb drivers’ school at Shelsley Walsh and was spinning the wheels more and getting more confident.
“Tailwagger could be a contender at Chateau Impney this year. We will have to wait and see, as it’s in pieces in my workshop at the moment!”
Jonathan’s love affair with motorsport and restoring cars goes back a very long way. He first worked on a car with his father and brother when he was just 8, helping to get a Bullnose Morris back on the road. From there, he helped his father rebuild a three-wheeler Morgan, before buying his own. It wasn’t long before he realised this was what he wanted to do for a living.
“I went to college and studied agricultural engineering at first, but in my year out I worked for Ivan Dutton restoring vintage racing cars. It was a very interesting year and I went back to work for him in university holidays and my spare time. After a few years, I started building and restoring old cars as a career.
“A lot of passion and love goes into building people’s cars for them. It’s a good world to be in. I’ve got a lot of my old friends interested in vintage cars and racing. Vintage cars take up all my spare time, all my spare thinking time and all my money – it’s just what I do!”
Jonathan won’t be alone at this year’s hill climb, as his partner, Sarah, is also taking part in his Bugatti Brescia.
Jonathan said: “Sarah had no interest in motorsport at all when we met. Then I took her to Prescott and she watched me destroy the Bugatti engine! She’s really embraced motorsport ever since.”
They’re both looking forward to competing at Chateau Impney this year. Jonathan recorded the fifth fastest acceleration time in the Tailwagger II last year, despite finishing in sixth position in his class.
He said: “I thought last year’s hill climb was fantastic. It’s an incredible, beautiful venue. It had a nice, informal feel to the paddock and people weren’t restricted as to where they could go.
“The hill is really good and technically quite difficult for a big car. It’s all about getting used to the hill. I don’t drive like an old person, but in the back of my mind is the knowledge that if you have an accident, you’re likely to get hurt. It’s only a game after all! It’s all about having fun and going home in one piece at the end of the weekend.”