Bay area metalshaper and master craftsman Jack Hagemann of Alamo, CA passed away Monday, December 6th. He was 94.
A popular fixture in the bay area speed circles, Hagemann first burst on the scene in the 1930s when he hand built a midget race car; chassis, body and all. A highly skilled, self taught metal shaping master and body designer, Hagemann was northern California’s “go to” metal man for decades. Over the years he shaped and designed literally thousands of parts, pieces, hoods, fenders and panels for the who’s who of motorsport as well as complete chassis and whatever else he could think up. During the many years he spent bending and forming aluminum into automotive works of art, his magic touched many different types of racing: Midgets, Sprint Cars, Indy Cars, Bonneville Streamliners, Hot Rods, and Sports Cars – all receiving the Hagemann touch.
Jack Hagemann (center) seen here at the first Danville Dukes garage party passed away Monday, December 6th at age 94. Pictured are (from left to right) Roger Garcia, Andy Brizio, Rudy Perez, Jack Hagemann, Tom Walsh and Rich Guasco.
Hot rodders like Dick Magoo, Bill Burnham, Tommy Walsh, SRTEET RODDER editor Brian Brennan and hundreds of others turned to Hagemann to shape their rod’s hoods and fenders. But before the street rod surge of the 70s and 80s, Hagemann was a fixture at sports car and oval track events. Famed Indy Car mechanic George Bignotti recruited Hagemann to work on Indy roadsters at the Brickyard. Among his many accomplishments were some beautiful sports car bodies for racecars of the 1950s and 1960s which included the Leson Simca, the David MG, the Gillespie MG, the Barneson-Hagemann Chrysler as well as beautiful polished-aluminum bodies for the Webster team of the United States Road Racing Championship circuit. There were countless other projects. Hagemann’s favorite of all the cars he ever built was a handcrafted RSK-Type Porsche Spyder roadster with a tube frame, aluminum body, and Porsche running gear. He frequently brought that car to the early Goodguys events in Pleasanton.
One of Hagemann’s favorite past times was driving fast. Really, really fast! One day many decades ago the California Highway Patrol blocked off both ends of Crow Canyon Rd (a windy stretch between Castro Valley and San Ramon in Northern California) in an attempt to catch and arrest him for driving at dangerous speeds. Just a few years back at age 90, he was stopped by the Highway Patrol near the border of Oregon and California doing 130mph in his Turbo 911 Porsche.
In recent years, he had been slowing down but was still tinkering on a coupe to match his Spyder roadster. Steve Moal of Moal Coachbuilders in Oakland became a close confidante of Hagemann’s back in the 1960s. “As a guy who wanted to do metal work as a youngster, Jack Hagemann was THE guy I wanted to emulate” Moal said. “You couldn’t help but look up to Jack and what he did. He must have punched over 2 million louvers for California hot rodders. We became close over the years. Fortunately, some of us were able to take Jack to Andy Brizio’s Holiday Dinner in San Francisco recently. I’m really glad we did. It turns out it was the last time we got to spend time with our friend.”
Ron Covell of Covell Creative Metalworking echoed Moal’s sentiments. “Jack brought an extremely high level of craftsmanship to everything he did, and his designs were quite elegant,” he said. “Jack was the premiere metalshaper in the Bay Area for many, many years.
A celebration of Jack’s life will be held in the Bay Area next spring.