Jaguar XK DIY Restoration & Maintenance by Bob Exelby is an impressive book. This is the story of how one man completely restored his XK 120 roadster, transforming it from dereliction into a thoroughly beautiful example of this iconic sports car.
Bob Exelby also took the time to investigate and incorporate numerous detail improvements, making the car even more usable and practical for today’s roads, some 65 years after it was built. All of the modifications were tasteful, though some might still argue with their applicability to a true restoration. Exelby wanted a useable and dependable car in addition to a valued classic.
One of the things that immediately struck me on reading the book was the thorough nature of the planning and rebuilding process. Exelby is obviously not the kind of person who just dives in and starts taking things apart without thinking about the process. His investigations went further than just how a system went together – he delved into and researched the “whys” of the system. He also is a meticulous planner, as can be seen by the project planning documents he used. Here is a man who approaches his hobby more seriously than many people approach their careers.
A rare, if not unique, feature of this book is the inclusion throughout of advertisements and recommendations of suppliers and resources used in the restoration. These are not mere lists in bibliographic style. They are full or partial page, full-color ad style listings such as one would encounter in trade publications. These are not just ads however as they are recommendations based on Exelby’s experience. There are also a smattering of period ads, cartoons, diagrams and other ephemera. All-in-all, there are over 300 pages, over 400 photos
In a lot of ways this is a restoration and maintenance manual, for it surely covers those points. But in many ways, it is much more. It is both the story of one man’s undertaking and recommendations and ruminations on the process. It is a discussion with a friend – a very knowledgeable and experienced friend. You may flip through a manual once and then go back from time to time for reference, this is a book you can sit down with and read. Cover to cover.
If you are the owner or prospective owner of a classic Jaguar, especially an XK, you need this book. It will be both and education and a resource. If you are restoring a classic of any marque, you need to at least check out the book. I think it will give you some good ideas and encouragement for your own projects.