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Jaguar XK150

Published: 29th Apr 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XK150
Jaguar XK150
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Making a cat feel at home

Robert Couldwell makes his garage, and so his classic, simply a purr-fect pair

Until 2009 I had managed to drive further each year in the XK than in any other classic I have owned, around 5000 miles. But from 2009 to 2011 any spare time was to be spent creating a comfortable home for the Jag rather than driving it.

Having previously rented an office away from my home, my wife suggested we build a double garage with office and guest room over and effectively fund the project with the £2400 annual rent saved.

I could only afford the project if I did a lot of the work myself so engaged a contractor to provide a wind and water-tight shell that I would complete. The shell took some four months but my bit took the next two years and was a huge learning curve for someone who had only ever attempted basic DIY. I single-handedly, built stud partitions, insulated the structure with huge 100mm thick panels, laid hardwood floors with a compressed-air nail gun, plaster-boarded, built desks and shelving, installed doors and frames and worst of all decorated the whole lot. We certainly celebrated the day I received the building control certificate!


There was little time left to drive my beloved XK and it was lucky to get an MoT and service each year. However, it enjoys a much better home than the previous draughty damp garage built back in the early 1930s. We live within 100 yards of the English Channel so salt in the air is a real problem and I previously ran a dehumidifier 24/7 – not a cheap exercise. In the new garage, the electrician laid heating mats under the six inch floor slab and assured me that, if turned on for two hours nightly, the concrete would warm up and give off heat for the rest of the day.

I had been quoted £5000 for gas underfloor heating which was out of the question while the electric system cost under £600.

D Day came just before Christmas and having turned the underfloor heating on for the whole of one night I was delighted to feel the lovely warm floor the next morning. After experimentation, it is on from 4-6am during the winter and keeps the garage at 16ºc + even in the coldest weather. More importantly it keeps the humidity down. Thanks to the stringent building regulations, the garage is extremely well insulated. Now the garage is completed I have been able to use the car a fair bit more, getting out most Friday nights with some other guys with rag tops to various country pubs.


Over the 10 years I have owned the Jag I have gradually improved it and my XK is now a great pleasure to drive. There are still things to do and I have discovered an XK guru called Rod Shears who writes a column in the XK Club magazine. He knows all the shortcomings of the XK and has provided some brilliant solutions.

The early XKs relied on the rear side lamps flashing as indicators which isn’t terribly safe these days and he has come up with a modification which requires drilling a hole in the rear lamp lens into which an LED is inserted which, after suitable connections, flashes bright orange – brilliant.

Rod also has a modification for the appalling standard wipers using an MGB wheel box and he uses a Ford Escort clock mechanism, or similar, to replace the useless Smiths unit fitted by Jaguar which never works. He has also designed a system to catch oil drips from the rear crankcase seal using a simple foil pie dish which saves the garage floor from oil.

I had previously arranged for the Kenlowe fan on the Jag to be wired outside the ignition so that after a hot trip it doesn’t suddenly turn off when the engine is still hot. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for the engine heat to reduce to the point where the thermostat turns it off, which can be embarrassing when the car is left in pub car parks on sunny evenings, disturbing drinkers and diners.

Rod has come up with a run-on timer which allows the fan to run for an optimal two minutes after turning the engine off, enough to prevent fuel vaporisation.

When I get a chance I will let Rod have the car for a few days to carry out all these mods, some of which might be beyond me.

One thing I have done is to fix the small leather trimmed panel which covers the gearbox dipstick. There are two Dzus fasteners holding it down and the female part of the rear one had come away meaning the panel was not sealing, allowing heat and road dirt to damage the carpet and also increase noise and cockpit heat in summer. I managed to find a large panel clip which I was able to slide over the transmission tunnel into which a self-tapper was screwed holding the panel down tight. It took me about ten minutes and was most satisfying.


In a previous running report I mentioned the installation of an under bonnet fire extinguisher and, after fitting I forgot it until K and N, the excellent XK specialist had the car for service and noticed that the fire extinguisher had lost pressure. I finally got hold of the supplier who said bring the car along and we’ll sort it out. Unfortunately, he resides in Stanmore which would have meant £60 worth of fuel and the best part of a day out so I eventually persuaded him to send me a new kit for the eye-watering sum of £176. The kit comprises a small fire extinguisher with a valve attached to which is a length of red quarter inch plastic tubing. I was going to get the XK specialist to fit it but then thought surely I can do this myself. I took a photograph of the existing system to show the routing, removed the extinguisher from its bracket and the tubing from its cable clips and fitted the new one. All done in about 15 minutes – I was quite pleased with myself. I shall keep an eye on it in future.


My daughter was recently married and wanted me to take her to the church in the Jag and for her new husband to drive her in the car from church to reception.

Needless to say the car had to be immaculate and I spent around a day and a half on it to the point that I think it looked as good as ever. There was some pitting on some of the chromework and I knew that I could use very fine wire wool to remove it. This proved highly successful, and I have now carefully applied wax to all the chrome on the car, including the hood furnishings. It was a fiddly but equally rewarding business.

Wouldn’t you know it, but we were late leaving for the church some 24 miles away. I can’t admit the speeds reached to get her to the church on time… Needless to say the old girl didn’t let us down and was much admired (I think I could have sold it three times). My new son-in-law also excelled himself considering that he had only driven it briefly once before. Mind you if he can manage my daughter, a Moss box is no prob!

My insurance company recently asked me to provide evidence for the agreed value insurance and I went to the XK specialist for his valuation which was £20,000 more than I had thought and nearly £40,000 more than the value agreed in 2004. Good news – except that it has increased the premium quite considerably. I bought the car with the cash element of a pension when I early-retired from corporate life and I have to say that it has been a far better investment than the shares I bought at the same time as well as giving me and others a lot of pleasure.

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