1958 XK-150 Roadster

XK-150 Roadster, Chassis Number S830287; 3.4 liter without overdrive.

This is an extremely early XK-150 roadster, as left-hand drive chassis numbers started at 830001. This puts its production date as May or June 1958. Last driven in 1980, the car will receive a complete, body-off restoration to include all mechanicals, paint, and interior.

The car is an excellent candidate for restoration in that it is complete and the body appears to be almost damage- and rust-free, but we shall see. Like many of the cars we restore, there are some interesting stories behind this XK-150. Here's what we learned from the owner:

"I bought the car in 1969. It had one previous owner, a young dentist who got tired of all the maintenance required. He put 65,000 miles on the car in ten years, so he must have driven it regularly, but probably not exclusively.

"I paid $600 for the car. It was reputed to not be running. When I picked it up, I brought along a set of Lucas points, a condenser, a set of spark plugs, a can of WD40 and jumper cables. I pushed the car into the street, where I did my "battlefield tune up" (using a match book cover as a feeler gauge to set the points).

"After hooking up the jumper cables, the car started on the second try and I drove it home. The former owner came out of his house and looked at me in disbelief the look on his face was priceless.

"In the next year I overhauled the engine, brakes, carbs (more than once), etc. and drove the car regularly.

"Other misadventures include the car being stolen twice, once while it was in storage at a moving company in Chicago, and once by a Nashville, TN policeman who played a little fast and loose with the abandoned vehicle laws.

"It has been in storage since about 1980. When it was stored it was a good runner, although I am sure the valve guides are a bit loose (the car smokes on deceleration) and what's left of the tranny synchros isn't much.

"The car got lots of admiring glances back in 1980, so I am looking forward to the reaction it gets in 2006!"

Arrival Date: March 18, 2005

Our technicians have removed most of the interior and external trim to better assess the condition of the body.

The rear fenders have also been removed. The sills will definitely require replacement because of fairly extensive rust, but the shut pillar assemblies may be salvageable. A previously-damaged section of the right front fender has been cut out and will be replaced with a new panel from England. Because the sills must be replaced anyway, we will slice straight through them to cut the body in half.

Two halves, rather than a complete body shell, are far more manageable for our media blaster, who will remove every last trace of paint, factory applied lead, plastic body filler and rust with a process that won't work-harden the metal. At that point, the body will be completely sealed with an epoxy chromate primer and we can accurately assess the entire shell and either repair or replace damaged sections.

When the body comes back from the blaster, it will be mounted on another XK frame and repair work will continue. The chassis and mechanical components can then be rebuilt concurrently in another area of our shop, saving a great deal of time. A few notes on how we prepare an XK body. We drill out the spot welds on the headlamp pods and side lamp housings on the tops of the fenders and remove these pieces.

This is the only way to ensure that all rust has been eliminated and that the hidden areas under the pods and housings can be properly sealed. If this isn't done, rust will eventually lift the seams of these panels away from the main fender sheet metal, not unlike a tree root lifting a sidewalk. This is especially common on the lower-most point of the headlamp pod, where water can easily collect and rust the two panels.

We also melt all factory applied lead from all seams prior to blasting the body. Again, this is the only way to ensure that all rust has been eradicated and won't bubble through a beautiful paint job a few years hence.

As we've said many times, there are multiple ways to do a given operation. Initially, the quick route may look just as good as the more laborious method. Time, however, will always tell.

Disassembly and Paint Stripping

Work is progressing quickly. The body has been halved and both pieces have been separated from the frame. The restoration has now taken two paths: mechanical and body. On the mechanical side, everything (engine, transmission, rear axle, suspension, etc.) has been removed from the frame and we have begun to rebuild these pieces. While it's still a bit early to fully assess the condition of each component, we found the engine and cylinder head to be in very good shape, with just a bit of corrosion repair necessary in the cylinder head. The intake manifold showed some advanced corrosion, however, but this has already been repaired and the manifold sent off to the polishers.

On the body side, we're finishing up removal of all paint and filler from the front half of the body. We usually do this in-house with a chemical stripper prior to having the shell media blasted. Even though our chosen blasting method is pretty benign and will not work-harden the body, we figure the less pressure to which we subject such aged sheet metal, the better. Because the car is, for the most part, still wearing its original paint, the stripping process was easy. All the blaster will have to do now is remove the remaining paint and rust scale from the various nooks and crannies (not to be confused with cracks and crevices). Aside from the aforementioned repairs to the areas under the head lamp and side lamp pods, there are a couple of other areas that will require attention: The car took a fairly hard hit to the right front corner, but the subsequent repair was of high quality and requires little further attention. Some of the bulkhead support tubes are a bit rusty, but we can repair these fairly easily as the rust is not bad enough to necessitate complete replacement.

Both halves of the body plus the bonnet and boot lid have been stripped of paint, with no significant "surprises" found. This is great news. The body now awaits its turn with the media blaster for final stripping and rust scale removal, although our body shop is so full at the moment that space is more of an issue than time.

The chassis and myriad brackets and fittings have returned from the powder coater and are now being reassembled. This work usually progresses quickly, as our technicians have assembled more XKs than they probably care to remember. The rear axle has been freshened with new bearings and seals (the original ring and pinion were in excellent shape and remain) and the casing painted. The steering rack has also been rebuilt with new bearings, bushings and seals. The rack and pinion proper were not sufficiently worn to warrant replacement, but every other wear item is new. The front suspension will be re-assembled with new polyurethane bushings and the ball joints replaced. We will re-use the original torsion bars, but the rear leaf springs will be replaced with new units as the originals were badly worn and contained some broken leaves.

After a period where most progress was largely behind the scenes, things are starting to pick up on our early XK-150 restoration project. The body has returned from the media blaster and now resides at our new body and paint facility about a mile from XKs Unlimited headquarters. The rear half of the body has been mounted to a donor XK frame we use for body assembly while the real chassis is being reassembled.

The new sill and post assemblies have arrived from England, as has the repair panel for the left front fender, err, wing. Luckily, as we had chemically stripped most of the paint before the body was shipped to the media blaster; there were few surprises once the body was totally bare. We have some rusted-through spots beneath the side lamp housings and a few other previously-damaged areas to attend to, but for the most part this is about as "clean" as a Jaguar XK body can get.

At the primary restoration shop, the engine and carburetors have been completely rebuilt and re-installed in the chassis. A five-speed gearbox has replaced the original Moss 'box. For the most part, work has progressed quickly with minimal setbacks. The original pipe between the starting carburetor and intake manifold is missing, however, so a replacement must be found or fabricated. Finally, the fuel tank and new lines have been installed, as have the brake and clutch master cylinders and their associated plumbing. In not too long the engine and chassis assembly will be ready and waiting for the freshly painted body.

After some delays due to the amount of work in our restoration department, we are once again making quick progress on this very early XK-150 roadster. This stage of a restoration can go quickly as major components such as lamps or bumpers can make the car look whole again in a matter of hours, but it can also be extremely slow and frustrating if things don't fit correctly and require painstaking adjustment or modification.

Since our last installment the chassis and engine restorations were completed and the engine/transmission unit has been reunited with the chassis. The body was then painted a gorgeous shade of maroon, removed from its surrogate chassis and installed back on the original, fully restored, chassis. We make it sound so easy, but this is a back-breaking procedure with no margin for error, as even a minor slip would mean a trip back to the paint shop.

Once the body is firmly bolted to the chassis and everything is appropriately shimmed, things start to pick up speed. The wiring harness, being the veins of the electrical system is usually installed first to ease routing, and then the tail lamps and headlights were installed, followed by the instrument panel and dash switches. After the body and chassis were reunited, we installed the doors and window mechanisms. Again, this is not a morning's work as the winder mechanisms had to be rebuilt and everything adjusted to maintain the proper clearance between the side windows and windshield pillars - all while maintaining consistent and pleasing door gaps. We also had problems with the door lock tumblers not quite aligning within the door lock barrels, all of which were issues solved through the painstaking work of our technicians.

Along the way we also bolted on the newly re-chromed front and rear bumpers, the windscreen wiper rack and the floor panels. Most of the body rubber seals have been installed, so we've started with the interior trimming and installation of the convertible top. Stay tuned.

When we last visited this early XK-150 restoration, the stage was set for completion and delivery to our customer. In short, we installed the rest of the interior and soft top, finished a few outstanding mechanical items and began testing.

Not everything went to plan, as there were typical issues with missing or damaged interior trim pieces and some re-work required on the seat covers, but for the most part the final assembly stages went smoothly, if not quickly. Final assembly also means final adjustments, so there were myriad details to check and rectify.

For instance, with the soft top now fitted, we had to ensure that the door windows sealed properly and operated smoothly. Linkages for throttle, hand brake and door locks were checked and adjusted a final time. Then it was time for test driving and another round of adjustments. A few teething problems are inevitable but luckily we experienced nothing that wasnt easily corrected.

After all was sorted (as they say in the UK), our beaming customer took delivery in late March. He has driven the car quite extensively and were thrilled to report that he won his class and was judged best Jaguar overall at the Muckenthaler Concours dElegance May 19, 2007, held in Fullerton, California. Click here to see the Class Wins and Show History for this impressive car.


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