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Car Tales: A 1959 Jaguar XK150 from Sussex

‘What often fascinates me is what happens to cars that have been sold by my Beverly Hills Car Club dealership.
‘I cannot deny experiencing an element of emotional attachment with many of the vehicles I buy and sell. And when they leave my premises it can feel like letting your own child out into the world: what will happen to them? And then there are the longstanding relationships I build up with my clients – and I call them that even though they may never have purchased a vehicle from me. One such non-buying customer was John McSherry, a Scotsman living in Sussex in England.
‘And I am extremely flattered that John spoke rather highly of myself and my people. ‘The response always from Alex and his team has been first-class: they really want to do the best for their clients,’ he said kindly. John and I first had a number of communications some eight or nine years ago. He had been looking for a Jaguar XK150 as a restoration project and nearly bought a number of vehicles from me.
‘Eventually, the distance from California and the south of England deterred him: Ironically, however, he still ended up with a Jaguar XK150 from the Beverly Hills Car Club, but one which I had sold to a dealership in Essex, to the east of London. John then bought it from there.
‘John had always loved Jaguar XK150s and had finally decided that, come hell or high water, he was going to buy one. In fact, the 1959 Jaguar XK150 that he eventually bought was built in Coventry on August 12 1959 and dispatched to Jaguar Cars in New York later that year when, as John admitted, ‘I was 3 years old…The owner before me, a doctor in New York, had bought it as a barn find. He had it up and running in the mid-90s, but he thought before that it hadn’t been run since the early 1970s. He hadn’t done any serious work on it.’
‘Once free of the frivolities of youth, maturity can lead to a more rigorous approach to life. And John’s approach to his XK150 certainly attests to that.
‘He had decided that once he had acquired the car of his dreams he would transform it into his everyday road car. And although it was a left-hand-drive vehicle being used in the right-hand-drive UK, this was no hindrance.
‘”I decided to keep it like that”, said John. Sussex where he lives is only a jump across the English Channel to Europe. “And the roads in France and Italy are a lot better than in the UK. And when my car is finally up-and-running I will often be driving it there: every year my wife and I go to watch the Mille Miglia, from Brescia to Rome in Italy. And I’m really looking forward to motoring down through France and into Italy in my XK150. These cars really were classic Grand Tourers.They were wider than their predecessors, the XK140s and XK120s, and much better for a larger person, which I am. For example, there is much more room for your shoulders.”
‘Before such impressive and ambitious journeys may be undertaken, however, John has undertaken a Herculean amount of work, all led by his belief in the sanctity of detail and a scrupulous adherence to the probity of the original design and parts.
‘”It was in October 2015 that I bought my car. It had been resprayed with what seemed to have been no more than a quick flick over in the paint shop, a kind of metallic blue colour that the entire car had been changed to. Originally it had been in Sherwood Green, one of the 14 colours in which the XK150s were available. Sherwood Green is a colour that I love and I changed it back to that. The interior was suede green with leather and carpets, I actually decided to go for a suede green floor carpet. But for the leather and the dashboard I’ve gone for Saville Grey, a light grey. The colors blend together beautifully. I’m doing all the trimming myself. Last Easter weekend I put the head-lining in, which allowed me to get the chrome to go back in.
1959 Jaguar XK150 Dash
‘”On the face of it the car when I bought it looked in quite good condition. Mind you, the interior had been trashed, completely rotten. It had been barn-stored for a time, so I wasn’t surprised to find a dead mouse within the upholstery. Mind you, the price I paid reflected such problems. The engine ran well but was clearly very tired. The external body looked like it was in good condition but I could see where the metal-work needed attention.”
‘What John McSherry eventually did was to opt for a full body-off restoration. ‘In 2016 I stripped the car completely, and started talking to people about the metal-work. I could see the car deserved a body-off restoration and decided I would do that. It wouldn’t have done the car justice otherwise. And as I began to strip the car I could see things that I wouldn’t otherwise.
‘”In the end I replaced the battery boxes, the spare wheel trays, and the rear floor. I did some repairs to the wings. And the bottoms of the doors were in quite poor shape. So to keep that lovely curvature at the top of the doors I took a ¾ door skin, cut out the bottom section and replaced it with that. So that beautiful curvature remains in position. And I cut out and replaced the door hinges with oil-filled bushes. Although the metal-work was in first-class condition, I still had the chassis re-built.”
‘”The engine was a good running engine. It turned over and sounded very good. But I thought the thing to do was to strip it down and rebuild it. Which I did. The gearbox had a few leaks. But I decided to retain the original automatic gearbox: those Borg Warner gearboxes were very robust. I’m sure there are fewer and fewer matching number cars with original engines and gearboxes”
‘”The 150 was the first Jaguar to have disc brakes. But I still gave it a brake upgrade. And a new fuel-tank: no matter what you do it’s always going to be a potential weakness. Along the way I put in complete new wiring: the existing wiring looked like an accident waiting to happen. An electrician is going to test all the electrics before I connect up the batteries.”
‘”Before the body went back on, I sprayed all the underside of the body. And when I put the body back on I started to work on door gaps etc. Getting the body-work absolutely right before it went into the spray-shop. I’m very pleased. My son went to Coventry university and trained as an automotive designer. He was very impressed with my project, said the sight-lines were great.”
‘“Towards the end of 2018 I had a rolling chassis which looked very nice. And I remarried the body and the chassis and they took the marriage vows again and promised to stay with each other for ever.”
‘”Although there are more details to deal with, the car will soon be complete. Restoring it has certainly been an adventure. Mind you, when I turned 60 my wife said, You need a hobby. All the same, I’ve come quite late to classic car renovation.” Thanks, John!’
-Alex Manos, Owner

1 reply on “Car Tales: A 1959 Jaguar XK150 from Sussex”

  • Jeff Lansman says:

    That is a great color! Looks like that will be an awesome car to run around Europe.

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