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A checkered history

From its worn, brown leather upholstery to the unusual screened scoop on its British racing green bonnet, the 1952 Allard J2X Le Mans is a carefully restored original, said owner Bill Pfohl, of Cave Junction.

"It's a time capsule," he said of the car his father bought from Sidney Allard, a British racer and boutique automaker in 1953.

Pfohl's Allard J2X is just one piece of automotive history on display at the Jackson County Fairgrounds this weekend at the 32nd annual Southern Oregon Rod & Custom Show.

Organizers hand-picked more than 100 vehicles for the show, which benefits Oregon Health & Science University's Child Development and Rehabilitation Center.

Thousands of spectators will pour through the fairgrounds to ogle expensive paint jobs and gleaming chrome, talk up torque and horsepower, and reminisce about cars seldom seen in traffic.

"Everybody has a reason to talk to you," said Candy Rentz, as she wiped the windows of a 1947 Ford her husband John Rentz had just driven from Grants Pass in the rain Friday morning. "People just love the shiny cars."

Pfohl's green race car sports the same bold "4" and license number — MXF 969 — it did during its run at 1952's LeMans 24-hour race, when it was driven by Sydney Allard himself and Jack Fairman for the Allard factory racing team.

Nearing the 13-hour mark of that race, the Chrysler Hemi under the hood blew, knocking the team from the race. However, the vehicle hinted at the potential of combining big American engines with light British sports car chassis.

"This was the mother of all Cobras," said Pfohl, noting that Cobra designer Carroll Shelby drove for Allard in 1953.

Pfohl's father, Paul, a motorcycle and car racer from New York, called Allard in 1953, seeking something special to drive. Allard offered up the J2X prototype — one of only 12 built — that he had driven at LeMans the previous year.

Pfohl said his father drove the car in four U.S. races, winning them all, before moving on to a Jaguar.

But the Allard J2X stayed in the family, and Pfohl recently completed his careful restoration.

"This is the first show it's been to since I finished," he said.

He estimated the car is worth nearly $1 million and has it listed for sale online for $850,000.

Whether it sells or not, he's happy to keep a family love for automobiles alive and thinks his father, who died in 2005, would be proud.

"If he's looking down, I think he likes how it looks," Pfohl said.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

Bill Pfohl’s British racing green 1952 Allard J2X Le Mans is one of only 12 of this model built in the British factory. Eight of the cars still are in existence making them worth up to $1 million each.