1957 COZZI JAGUAR SPECIAL

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1 1957 COZZI JAGUAR SPECIAL

2 1957 Cozzi Jaguar Special "A home made C-Type, six years later and for far less money" was how noted Ferrari historian Dean Batchelor described the Cozzi Jaguar in a piece that he wrote about the beautiful Car that was pictured in a feature in "Road and Track" in May Dan Cozzi was an arch enthusiast who lived in San Francisco. Today, he is alive and well, residing in Italy and remembers the car with great affection. In the "Road and Track" article, Merrill McNabb described the Jaguar-powered car, pointing out that the design, including that of the body, had been commissioned from Bill Nielsen and had very obvious Ferrari 860 Monza features, including the covered headlights and headrest. Bill Nielsen, together with Don Radbrook, had designed and built several very attractive flathead Ford hotrods and Dan Cozzi, then an impressionable 18 year old who helped out at Nielsen s shop, inspected an XK120 Jaguar that was there. Page 1

3 Realizing that the mechanical components of the XK would very much suit his purpose (a racing sportscar), Dan Cozzi borrowed $5,000 from his father and asked Nielsen to find him a wrecked XK and, when Nielsen shortly afterwards produced a wrecked XK120M, the project was up and running. From the outset, the Cozzi Special was designed to fit the then-current FIA rules, having a door for entry, headlights and even a handbrake! The beautiful aluminum body, made by Sprint car legend Jack Hagermann, was fabricated in such a way that its panels could be detached from the small tube body frame, which surmounts the main chassis, in about thirty minutes. It was, and is, an exquisitely made piece of rolling sculpture, superior in execution to the competition bodies then being made at Scaglietti in Modena for Ferrari. Beneath the body was a ladder type chassis, but made of two very large diameter tubes (four inches in diameter), joined together front and rear and with a massive "X" shaped center brace, which added additional torsional rigidity to the car. Page 2

4 The stock XK120 front and rear suspension pieces were fitted, together with a Panhard rod (anti-tramp bar) built into the rear suspension, in an to attempt to stop the wind up and subsequent loss of traction that occurred with the Jaguar in a standing start. The recirculating ball steering from the XK120 was also used in the Cozzi Special, as were the drum brakes. The wire wheels were from a C Type Jaguar, that of Sterling Edwards, whose car had been badly damaged when driven by Phil Remington. The XK120 engine, with "M" modifications (bigger valves, nitrided crankshaft and no less than four 1 3/4 inch S.U. carburetors, mounted on a special manifold) was mounted to the chassis without the rubber bushes used on the production XK120, thus preventing the wind-up associated with these bushes. The wheelbase of the Cozzi Special was 96 inches, six inches plus shorter than that of an XK120 and the propshaft (driveshaft) was cut and welded to fit. Weight was 2520 pounds with fuel and driver and this was distributed 1280 pounds front, 1240 ponds rear; Handling must have been almost neutral. Page 3

5 0 to 60 mph was quoted at 6.9 seconds, 0 to 100 in 22 seconds and top speed was calculated to be 130 mph at 6,000 rpm. Total cost of building the Cozzi Special, including the original wrecked XK, was the previously mentioned $5,000, a substantial sum in 1957, but of course next to nothing now. Dan Cozzi hired Nadeau Bourgeault to race the car in SCCA Californian races and, at Cotati, Borgeault defeated a certain Phil Hill in a 4.9-liter Ferrari, finishing first in the C modified class. At Stockton, the car finished 3rd in the "Senior Driver" class. Of course, by 1957, the C-Type Jaguar was obsolete, the D type then being the current Jaguar racecar, even that showing signs of age and being beaten by other Specials such as Lister Jaguars and Ferrari Testa Rossas plus sundry Maserati 300Ss. To increase the performance of the Cozzi Special, Dan Cozzi envisaged tuning the engine with higher compression pistons, bigger valves and triple Weber carburetors plus fitting close ratio gears in the gearbox and a limited slip differential to the rear axle. At some point following this, Dan Cozzi lost interest in the car after having written his college thesis on building the car. He left to study in Italy and sold the Special to Larry Alberdi of International Motors of San Francisco for just $2,500. Page 4

6 Larry Alberdi named the car the "Pirelli Special" but we do not know if he raced the car; it is likely, as there is a photo extant of the red car, with "Pirelli Special" written in white on the side. It s possible that Chuck Tannlund may have then bought the car. Arnold Andriotti of Arnold Tractor Service later on bought the car but, unmolested, we know that it was bought by Dave Smith in 1975 "Out of a barn." Dave went through the old special and raced it at the 1980 Monterey Historics before laying the old racer up in his shop where it remained for the next twenty-eight years, until it was found by a local enthusiast who was looking for just such a Jaguar powered Special in A complete restoration in the truest sense of the word has been undertaken. The car, although it had stood for so long, fired up almost immediately after the new owner had tended to the necessary oil and water change. This allowed him to drive it around the yard of his shop before seeing it stripped down for the restoration. You can see photos of this restoration accompanying this article. Page 5

7 Bill Warner, who runs the prestigious Amelia Island Concours, has invited the Cozzi Special to attend in early March this year. It s likely that this latest Sportscar "barn find" will attract a lot of interested spectators. Page 6

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15 Site Contents John Starkey 2007 Page 14

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