1958 Jaguar XK150 SE Zagato
Total restoration
Restoration log by Dan Mooney



This very special car (S834369) was assembled as a rolling chassis at the Browns Lane factory in August 1957 as a special order for the Jaguar dealer in Geneva, who commissioned Zagato, the legendary Milanese coachbuilder, to design and build the unique alloy body. The finished car appeared on the Zagato stand at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1958.

At one time it was thought that Zagato may have built three cars on XK150 chassis, one of which was displayed in Geneva in 1958, with a second shown at the Paris Salon in 1960. The current owner's father was under the impression that his car was the Paris car, although we have now established that it was in fact the 1958 Geneva car. Photos of this car, which had previously been mistakenly attributed to the 1960 Paris show, appear in a Motor (UK magazine) Geneva Show report dated March 1958.

This discovery, together with the existence of several photographs of a clearly different XK150 Zagato, supports the theory that only two Jaguar XK150 Zagatos were ever built. The whereabouts of the second XK150 Zagato are unknown.

At some point in the very early 1960's, our Jaguar XK150 Zagato made its way to the United States where it was purchased by the current owner's father in 1964.

We are honored to have been entrusted with the restoration of this very special and unique motor car.

Our car on the Zagato stand at the 1958 Geneva Motor Show


Update report - May 20, 2024

Front nose and bonnet opening
drip rail weld out

Rear fender wheel arch / fender flares

Tail panel

Boot opening / drip rail

Body panels fit to superleggera framework

Update report - March 26, 2024

Rear fender construction

Tail panel construction

Fitting rear body panels to station buck

Rear superleggera framework and
rear bumper mount assemblies

Rear wheel well repair and
fitting of close out panels

Wheel well panels prime
Close out panels prime

Rear wheel well panels and
close out panels installed

Fitting rear body panels to chassis
and rear superleggera framework

Bonnet drip rail

Update report - February 21, 2024

Bonnet opening support structure
and engine bay close out panels.

Bonnet opening aluminum drip rail.

Roof panel with new flange panels.

Roof to cowl cover panels.

Front fender flares and lower fender panels.

Door frame construction.

Fitting of nose panels to body.

Update report - January 15, 2024

Original roof panel stripped to bare aluminum.

New flange panels for roof panel.

Door frame disassembly,

New panel construction for door frames.

Door hinge pockets in A-pillars.

Bonnet drip rail reconstruction
and support tube replacement.

Bonnet body opening flanges.

New aluminum nose panels.

Fitting, welding and metal finishing
of new panels to station buck.

Update report - May 10, 2023

Floor and sill panel fitting

Chassis and body substructure primed

Update report - April 3, 2023

Right A-pillar post

Left side battery box rebuild

Left side chassis to body mount

Left B-pillar gusset panel

Left sill panel

Right side rocker panel installation,
body to chassis mount installation
and construction of sill panel B-pillar gusset

Continuation of door hinge

Right side battery box disassembly

Update report - March 3, 2023

Right A-pillar removal and reconstruction

Left inner rocker panel installation
and left battery box modifications

Fuel tank cover panel installation

Left door hinge rebuild

Update report - November 30, 2022

Completion and installation
of rear floorboard

Repair and reconstruction of
rear body mounts and superleggera tubing

Installation of new left A-pillar

Update report - October 6, 2022

Rebuilding of spare wheel well and floor panels 

New cowl drip rail panel fabrication
and installation

New rocker panel assemblies

Rebuilding of A & B posts
and rocker panels

Rebuilding rear wheel inner arch body
to frame mounts

New floorboard construction from
seat floor board to fuel tank cover panel

Update report - September 7, 2022

Update report - August 16, 2022

Update report - July 18, 2022

Update report - May 14, 2020

The Zagato has returned from being media blasted!

Update report - April 28, 2020

De-skinning the Zagato doors.

Update report - April 20, 2020

This video and the photographs below show the removal of the steel Zagato sub-body from the Jaguar chassis.

Jaguar XK150 chassis has been slightly modified
by Zagato

Extensions have been welded at the top of front
shock towers

Zagato also welded extensions to the body
support brackets


Update report - April 13, 2020
De-skinning the Zagato roof and rocker panels.

Update report - April 7, 2020
De-skinning the rear clip.

Update report - April 6, 2020

It is now time to de-skin the front and rear clips. The following sequence of photographs show the terrible corrosion damage the car has suffered over the years. Now that Edward has fabricated most of the new aluminum panels we need for the outer skin, we need to remove the old panels, repair the steel platform chassis and weld the new aluminum panels together and in place. The first few photos below will give you a good idea of the scale of the task ahead of us!

"Cut here!"

This image shows the bottom edges of the aluminum
front wings wrapped around the steel frame

Severe galvanic corrosion where the aluminum has
been in contact with the steel

Cutting away the flange around the engine
bay opening

Lifting the alloy front skin away

This wrench has been lurking inside the left front
quarter panel since 1957
The wrench must have belonged to a Zagato
technician who built the car in 1957

Update report - February 9, 2020
The following sequence of photographs show the inner structure for the new boot lid. This was a complex and difficult panel to fabricate, and Edward really did a superb job!

Straight steel extrusions will eventually be formed
into the complex shape of the boot lid frame

The following sequence of photos show Edward fabricating the new boot lid outer skin. This was a particularly challenging panel because of the complex shape and curvature. The only panel left to make at this point is the frame for the boot lid.

Edward has been busy fabricating the new panel between the left rear wing and the boot lid.

Shaping the left hand rear wing on the buck, then both left and right forward sections of the rear quarter panels.

Shaping the right rear wing on the station buck.

Shaping the rear lamp panels.

Interesting to see the new nose alongside the original body yesterday.

Edward has now cut and assembled the rear station buck and has made the first two panels for the rear end.

Edward has now completed the design of the station buck for the rear bodywork.

Edward has now welded together all the various newly fabricated panels which form the outer skin of the bonnet. Next task is to recreate the steel tubing that acts as the lower frame of the bonnet.

Edward has been busy fabricating a new bonnet for the Zagato. The original bonnet had suffered serious galvanic corrosion where the aluminum skin was wrapped around the steel Superleggera frame.

The original bonnet was in bad shape
Typical Superleggera construction

New bonnet starting to take shape

With 18 panels for the front end now completed, I thought it might be interesting to assemble what we have so far. It is really starting to take shape now.

Edward continuing to work on the Zagato front end.

Fabrication of the new aluminum panels for the front end, continued.

More progress with the Zagato front end.

More panels taking shape at the front end of the Zagato.

Quite a complex little panel to shape

Taking shape, slowly but surely

Edward has been busy shaping the grill opening to the station buck.

Top of the grille opening taking shape

New grille surround fits the station buck perfectly

Left hand front wheel arch fitted to the station buck

The engine block for our Zagato project was probably the worst we have ever seen in terms of internal corrosion and blocked water jackets. In fact the block was so bad that even after multiple trips to the detergent oven we still had significant internal blockages that we were unable to flush out. In the end we had to submerge the block in an alkaline bath, which finally did the trick. After overcoming this significant hurdle, I am pleased to report that we have now completed all of the machine work and assembled this engine.

Magnaflux crack checking the block after it spent
some time in an alkaline bath
Torque plate honing the block

Etch priming the block
Establishing desired crank end play

We removed .020" from the deck surface in order
to zero deck our pistons
Note timing chain cover in place when surfacing
the block

Balancing the crankshaft

All zeros is a good thing in this case

Assembling the short block

Hanging rods on pistons
Installing oil plumbing

Installing head studs and head gasket

Head installed

Edward has now shaped the fifth and sixth panels and welded them to panel #1.

Paper template for panel #6

Panels 1 thru 6 now shaped and welded together

Edward has now completed the fourth panel for the left front wing. Next he will fabricate the panel beneath the left hand headlamp.

Edward has now finished shaping the third panel.

Edward has now finished shaping and metal finishing the second panel and has begun working on the transition panel at the top of the left front wing to the bonnet opening.

Edward has now made a start fabricating the new left front wing. In the photos below you can see how he first creates a paper template which is then transferred to the alloy sheet, which is then worked with the English wheel and planishing hammer until it follows the contour and form of the station buck.

Creating a template using the station buck
Transferring the template to aluminum sheet

Panel is shaped on the planishing hammer
and the English wheel

Edward now turns his attention to the rear section
of the left hand front wing

Shaping the rear panel

I am pleased to report that we have now completed our rebuild of the Zagato cylinder head. The block is going to be cleaned and degreased using an industrial acid dipping process in the next few days.

Final surfacing for the deck
Setting valve lash during reassembly

Great before and after photos with this head!
A reminder of how the deck surface looked before
the repairs and machine work

Cylinder head now fully rebuilt
Deck surface now looking much better!

I am pleased to report that we now have your Zagato (XK150) engine rebuild well underway. Unfortunately the cylinder head has suffered severe corrosion around the water jackets of the deck, and the block is about as gunged up with nasty deposits as any we have ever seen! Having said that, everything will be better than new once we have finished our work. I hope you enjoy watching the work progress.

The starting point of this challenging engine rebuild

Lifting the head off using the shop crane

First signs of some pretty bad internal damage

Preparing to remove the oil pan

Cylinder head is in very poor condition

Tear down underway

Serious corrosion issues around the water jackets
Nasty deposits lurking behind the core plugs in the
water jackets of the block

As bad as we have seen!

Head will need to spend some time in the
CJ Coachworks

Corroded alloy is ground away prior to welding

Thankfully we have a world class welder in the
Coachworks to assist with corroded engines
Jake built up the corroded areas around the
water jackets with a welded bead

Initial surfacing of the head after weld repairs

Reshaping the water jackets on the mill
Truing the valve cover gasket surfaces

Cam saddles had to be align honed
Machining out the old valve seats

Pressing in custom CJ valve seats
Honing new valve guides to size

Honing tappet guides for oversized tappets
Pressure testing head after all the welding and
machine work

Pressure test passed with flying colors
Measuring the run out on the new valve job (zero)

Close up of the 5 angled valve job
Measuring connecting rods for straightness

I am pleased to report that the station buck for the front of the Zagato has now been completed.

Edward is almost finished assembling the station buck.

The following images are screen shots of Edward's station buck design, which is nearing completion.

Edward has now finished the CAD model of the entire front end and has trued all surfaces. Next up is the design of the station buck, which is already underway.

Slowly but surely, the front end of the car is taking shape in Edward's CAD drawing.

More screen shots of Edward's CAD design work.

The following screenshot images show how Edward is using the raw scan data to produce a 3D model from which we can construct the station bucks needed to fabricate our new panels.

Today we are working with Mike Durham of Absolute Geometries to generate a 3D scan of the Zagato body. The scan will then be used by our friend Edward de Vaucorbeil of Extraordinary Metalshaping to produce a 3D CAD drawing from which we will be able to create the station (body) bucks we need to fabricate all of our replacement alloy panels. It is fascinating to watch this marriage of old world craftsmanship and computer aided design!

Jake, Mike and Edward discussing the project

Very cool to watch the car taking shape on
Mike's computer screen
Familiar looking Zagato nose!

Scanning the front left wing and driver's door

To be continued...

Jake spent several hours re-aligning the front end bodywork and managed to move the nose almost an inch from the right towards the center line of the car. We felt it was important to get the bodywork as straight and centered as possible prior to the 3D scanning process scheduled to take place on Monday.

If you look carefully at this before shot, you will
see the tape is well away from the splined hub
Note how much closer the tape is to the hub in this
photo taken after Jake's re-alignment efforts

Peak of grille opening now much closer to the
center line of the car

If you look carefully at the first two photos below you can see that the front end bodywork is offset to the right hand side, undoubtedly as a result of a major accident which we now know occurred on August 13, 1975. Look at the peak above the grill opening, then compare it to the center point of the fan. The two should be aligned, although the body has clearly been shifted to the right.

Before we have the car scanned next week, we are going to reposition the body so that it is more centered on the chassis. In this way, the wooden station buck, and the panels we make using the buck, will return the front end of the car to the shape it was prior to the accident back in 1975.

In order to correct the front end misalignment, it was necessary to remove the engine and gearbox, which Ray and Jake did earlier today.

Note how nose is offset to the right slightly

These photos show how Zagato welded extension
outriggers to the XK150 chassis
Steel inner sills were welded to the extended
chassis outriggers

Superleggera tubing was mangled behind the
right hand headlamp
Jake and Ray removing the engine

I am excited to report that we now have this very important restoration underway!

As we got the tear down underway earlier this week, we immediately made a very surprising discovery. We had always thought the Jaguar XK150 Zagato was originally black, although this was based entirely upon an apparently enhanced photograph that we now know was taken at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1958. On closer examination of the 'newsprint' photograph of the car on page 229 of The Motor magazine dated March 19, 1958, it is clear that the car was actually a lighter hue than black.

Fast forward to today, when we sanded away several layers of paint and primer to find that the car was originally dark bronze! We can find no evidence of any black paint anywhere on the car, including in all the nooks and crannies that were not stripped when the car was repainted white shortly before it was imported into the US in 1960.

In the first two photos below, you can clearly see the various substrate layers from the aluminum up, as well as the dark metallic bronze color we now believe was the color of the car when it was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1958. The first layer is a green etching primer, followed by a grey sealer, followed by cream colored body filler, followed by another application of sealer, followed by a single stage dark metallic bronze lacquer.

Unfortunately, the body of our Zagato is very badly damaged. Clearly the car was in a major accident which deformed the front and front right corner of the body, leading to some very extensive repairs, mostly in bondo. Furthermore, there is extensive galvanic corrosion throughout the car, which means that many panels will have to be fabricated and replaced. To this end, we have decided to have the car scanned to produce a 3D 'model', from which we will construct a wooden body buck, allowing us to form new alloy replacement panels. We will cover the process in some detail, as I'm sure it will be interesting to many observers. It should be a delightful mix of old world craftsmanship and new age computer aided design!

This image shows the various layer of primer, filler
and paint - none of which are black
This shot gives a clear indication of the Dark Bronze
color the car was originally

Tear down underway
Bad accident damage and even worse repairs mean
the front end will have to be reconstructed

Front end of the car is largely carved from bondo
Note recess in rear edge of front wing to
accommodate door trim when door opens

The Motor magazine commented on plastic
'louvers' in their Geneva Show report

Home made braces have been added to the doors

I believe you are correct :-)

Driver's door handle has also received some home
made reinforcement

Front screen held in place with wooden trim surround

Gerardo carefully sanding away layers to identify
the first paint color
Dark Metallic Bronze

Photos of the car in the Geneva Show in 1958

May 2015

Last week I was thrilled to receive an invitation to meet with Andrea Zagato while I was in Italy attending the Mille Miglia. The following photographs were taken in the picturesque town of Sirmione, on Lake Garda, where Andrea and several other Mille Miglia competitors were practicing for the legendary race. Andrea was driving a beautiful 1956 Alfa 1900 C Super Sprint Zagato.

Andrea was excited to speak to me about our restoration of the XK150 Zagato that his father had built more than 55 years ago.

With Matteo Bosisio (center) head of classic wheels
at Borrani, and Andrea Zagato (right)
Andrea Zagato was excited to discuss the restoration
of the XK150 Zagato his father had built

Andrea enthusiastically offered his full cooperation
and support for our project
With Zagato executive Paolo Di Taranto and
Andrea's Alfa 1900 C Super Sprint Zagato

We were delighted recently to receive the original sales order relating to Frank Freeman's purchase of his Jaguar XK150 Zagato from British Motor Sales in San Diego in August 1964. Although the car was barely 4 years old at that point, the coachwork had already been changed from black to white. Mr. Freeman paid $2,496.00 for the exotic Zagato, less a trade-in allowance of $850.00 against his 1956 Jaguar XK140 coupe.

We have also included a couple of images showing how British Motor Sales would have looked at the time, and how it looks today.

The sales order relating to Frank Freeman's purchase of the Zagato in August 1964

Rendition of British Motor Sales Co by the architect, Robert J. Platt (1958)
The site where the British Motor Sales Company had once been is now a
luxury apartment block (photo courtesy of Google Earth)

Frank Freeman outside his place of work in San Diego in the mid 1960's
Doris Freeman, the current owners stepmother, posing with the Zagato - 1966

The current owner standing by his father's car in the fall of 1964
The car on the Zagato stand at the 1958 Geneva Motor Show

Geneva Show report in Motor - March 1958
The Jaguar Zagato in all its glory on page 229

We have now unpacked and inspected the car, paying particular attention to the materials used when the car was first trimmed at the Zagato factory.

The seats are trimmed in two tone suede and vinyl

A close up of the suede seating surface

Red dash is a later addition, Zagato badging
obviously original
Familiar looking XK dash gauges

Note brown carpeting
More brown suede trimming rear panel

Door panels trimmed elaborately in black hide and
brown suede
This type of interior trim is very much in keeping
with the Zagato styling of the period

Close up of door panel materials

Rear bulkhead looks very like a 60s Aston

Typical Milanese superleggera construction visible in
this photograph

I am pleased to report that your car has been safely delivered to the Team CJ workshops.

Jaguar XK150 Zagato is an imposing and
impressive car when seen in person

Recessed door handles a nice touch

This car is probably the only Zagato built on
an XK150 chassis
Bumper appears very basic compared to the
rest of the car

Another message from the owner!
Original Nardi steering wheel will be restored

Familiar looking engine
Note absence of a body number - for obvious

I am delighted to report that we will have this exciting restoration underway early next year.

The current owner's stepmother with the car c 1966
On the Zagato stand at the 1958 Geneva Motor Show

Always helpful to receive written instructions
from our restoration clients
We look forward to replicating this photo when the
car is totally restored!

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