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    Customer Stories pt. 16: The up-and-coming Jaguar

    Customer Stories

    Name: Graham Cutts

    The classic: Jaguar XK 150S

    ‘I’ve had a few challenges in my life, but this rebuild has been the most challenging of all. When it’s finished, I think my favourite thing about owning it will be the sense of achievement and pride I’ll have from completing something that is a real challenge. 

    When it’s finally on the road and I can see that everything I’ve done has worked, I’ll know that I’ve done a good job. It’s a feeling of self-worth. It’s thinking, ‘I’ve done all that and it actually works!’ 

    Graham Cutts had been looking for a classic car for some time, when he had some money left to him. ‘It seemed an ideal opportunity to put those things together,’ he explains. ‘I’d looked at E-types and, although they’re very nice, they’ve gone up in price enormously.

    ‘I was once watching an episode of Top Gear where James May was driving an XK120 up to Scotland. It was pouring with rain, but the car was absolutely gorgeous. I thought to myself, ‘that’s the kind of car that you could really have fun with.’ So, I started looking around for XKs.

    ‘Between the XK 120, XK 140 and XK 150, I chose the XK 150S. While the XK 120 and XK 140 are both lovely models, the XK 150 was as good as it gets in my eyes. Eventually, I found a 1959 XK150S which was in the process of being restored.

    ‘However, the owner had run out of inspiration or money – or both – and sold it to a company called the Carriage Company in Hertfordshire.’

    Graham arranged a viewing, and found that the car was pretty much a shell: the chassis had been completely stripped, as was every panel. The bodywork had been refurbished, and the engine had been rebuilt – ‘other than that,’ laughs Graham, ‘it was a box of bits. And not all the bits were there, either! I negotiated with the dealer, bought the car, got it shipped home and started work on it.’

    Graham with his XK 150S
    Graham with his XK 150S


    Have you ever rebuilt a car before?

    ‘Nope!’ Graham laughs. ‘It arrived in June 2020, and I didn’t really have a timeline mapped out for when I wanted it to be finished.

    I’ve always been in the engineering world so the restoration aspect of the project really sparked my interest. Working on the XK has taught me so much as far as new skills, things like pipe bending and brazing – all sorts. I’ve even bought myself a little lathe to machine parts up in. My logic is that, whilst I can go to other people to get this stuff done, it tends to be expensive and I like doing stuff myself. It’s certainly a learning experience.’

    Graham describes himself as the kind of man who needs to have a project on the go, and the XK 150 fit the bill, appealing to his interest in classic cars and his feeling of what a classic really is. ‘The E-types are nice but for me, the XKs are a little bit more ‘classic’,’ explains Graham, ‘as production for them ended in 1961, which was around the same time that the E-types were first being produced.’

    Have there been any issues with the rebuild so far?

    Despite not having restored a classic before, Graham hasn’t yet encountered any issues that he hasn’t been able to fix. ‘There have been a couple of jobs along with the way which I haven’t enjoyed and have put off for some time. The main one is the wiring. When I got the car, it didn’t have a wiring loom at all, as it had been stripped out for the body rebuild. So, I got a new loom from Autosparks and simply had to figure out where the loom went. The electrics were like a rat’s nest at either end! I was pretty much trying to do anything else before I had to tackle it.’

    white Jaguar XK 150S
    Graham’s Jaguar XK 150S is a much-loved project that he’s excited to finish

    A car club lifeline

    For Graham, the XK Club community was the lifeline he needed.

    ‘I’m part of the XK car club, and I was reading their club magazine: The XK Gazette,’ he tells us. ‘The East Anglia representative, David Cuff, was looking for people to go to a classic car show, so I got in touch with him. Although I couldn’t make the event, I showed him a few pictures of my car and he asked if he could come and take a look. He was very impressed with what I’d done and offered his help because he loved working on the cars.

    ‘It was early November 2021 when he visited my house and helped me wire up the fuse box. It was amazing how much more confidence I got when I had someone to help me! I was also very relieved to get the wiring out the way.’

    Painstaking progress

    ‘One thing I didn’t appreciate about the restoration was the fact that virtually every part requires fettling, changing or slightly modifying in some way to make it fit,’ Graham explains.

    ‘Even if you buy new parts, you offer it up to the car and it just doesn’t come together! Of all the parts I’ve fitted so far, there have only had one or two that I haven’t needed to modify. Everything else needs a hole filing out or you need to drill something or file something down.’

    Graham feels that the difficulty of the rebuild makes a lot of sense when you think about it in relation to how the cars were originally built. ‘Someone once said to me, “you need to remember these cars were hand built in a factory, there was no CNC machining.” And that’s precisely what they did – they had to hand adjust and modify everything to make it fit!

    ‘I think that if you take your time to work it out and try to get into the mindset of the people designing and building these cars, you can usually work out where things go. You can spot things and understand why they’ve been put there. Take the wiring loom, for example; I wasn’t entirely sure where the wiring loom went, but there are lots of little clues like bits of steel which stick out and fold over like securing points, so I managed to figure out where it went. If you just take the time to think, ‘why does that go there?’ you can gradually work it out – which has worked to date!’

    The fuse box of Graham's Jaguar XK 150S
    The fuse box
    Engine bay view of Graham's white Jaguar XK 150S
    A view of the engine bay

    What will the car mean to you when it’s finished?

    ‘It will be a sense of achievement and pride that I’ve completed something that is a real challenge,’ Graham explains. ‘I’ve had a few challenges in my life, but this rebuild has been the most challenging of all. When it’s finally on the road and I can see that everything I’ve done has worked, it’ll give me that sense of pride that I’ve done a good job. It’s a feeling of self-worth. It’s thinking, ‘I’ve done all that and it actually works!

    ‘I also love being part of the community. When you’re with a group of people with similar sorts of cars and interests, you do get a feeling of belonging which is really special. I think that’s probably the best part of it!’

    white Jaguar XK 150S in garage
    A timeless classic in the making
    Ian Cook's drawing of white Jaguar XK 150S
    Ian Cook’s drawing of Graham’s Jaguar XK 150S

    Would you like the chance to be part of our Customer Stories project?

    If you’re a Heritage Car Insurance customer and you’d like your classic drawn in one of our next series of live drawing sessions, please send a maximum of 150 words about what your classic means to you and at least 2 images to

    If selected, we’ll send the original drawing to you for free, as well as a printed T-shirt and mug. It’s a wonderful project to be a part of, so if you’re interested simply get in touch!


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