John's Cars calling it quits

I have been receiving Hemmings Motor News for years. Under Jaguars, John’s Cars has always had an advertisement for his kits. Sometimes, I can’t understand his paragraphs of talking… But this month he hints at throwing in the towel.


I hear him loud and clear with people calling him and say you are my last hope. Same in my business. Take up all his time asking questions. Then they buy some thrown together bodge for a few bucks less and call him when it doesn’t work.

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Too Bad. My car ncludes a Jphn Kit. and some oter stuff. I had trouble with my install. Jhn and his staff was always very helpful. by phone or by FAX. Not much on email in those days.

His install manual is written much different from others. A good read.

Sad, thngs change.


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Yea, John has always had… a unique method of expression!


Never had any dealings with the man or his company so I can’t comment from direct experience. Obviously his product and service was good enough to keep him in business for many, many years. That says something right there.

After 23 years on Jaguar forums, however, I’m left with the impression that he didn’t suffer fools gladly, nor suffer those who bought from competing companies, nor suffer those who were 2nd or 3rd owners of converted Jags.

Not everyone thought he was a wonderful guy.


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I certainly agree. His Hemmings blurb has the same look and feel as those from 30 years ago.

Not recently but in the distant past, I’m embarrassed to admit that I sometimes got a bit convinced that I was pretty smart, I didn’t like the feeling, and found that a call to John and the subsequent discussion completely cured me of these feelings. :grinning:


I hope that somebody takes up the cudgel, and keeps the business going. For those who want to lump their their Jags, it’ll be a sad loss.

Agree. I wish I could afford a quarterbreed kit.

Paraphrasing another lister’s input into this…

Apparently, unbeknownst to me, ‘Andrew at Jaguar Specialties jumped into the game a few years ago with not only an excellent product but, near as I can tell, an unfailingly pleasant and helpful demeanor.’

So, apparently, if you’d like to get a kit to lump a Jag, there are still options.

I’ve had some good interactions with Andrew. My friend the late Roger Mabry did too, I’ve really appreciated the old vendors, like John of John’s and Paul of Paul’s who helped so many of us in the hobby before the internet. I hate to see them retire,

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What’s also become a problem is machinists retiring. it’s getting harder and harder to find a machine shop for engine work. Valve grinds, cylinder boring, etc. When you do, the wait time is weeks or months.

I remember when darn near every auto parts store in town had a machine shop in the back room, even if just for resurfacing brake rotors and flywheels.

It dawns on me that I’m sounding like an old man :slight_smile:



In the early aughts, after I’d been out of the game 10-12 years, I began to run up against that problem.

I was helping my then-boss with his fleet of old Brit iron, plus jis 510 racer, and all the specialty shops I’d dealt with back in the day, were mostly all gone.

It’s not gotten better.

It’s interesting to me as to why machine shop services are fading out. If existing shops have huge backlogs, that implies there’s still demand. And if there’s high demand and low supply, one would think that it’s still a profitable line of work.

Is it that the capital costs (machine tools) are so high that it doesn’t pay to get into the business? (i.e. the people who already own suitable tools purchased in the past are the only people who can make money now?)

I feel that a lot of automotive rebuild work has moved towards the appliance model - replace parts and get replacement parts (including engines and major driveline components) from factories that mass-rebuild them.

But again, if demand exceeds supply for on-demand machine shops - seems like it could be a good trade to be in? Mechanical work isn’t going away anytime soon even if the automotive market went 50% electric tomorrow.



You make mention of cars becoming appliances: overall, I think that’s a good idea, but that cuts down the need to rebuild engines, much like I used to.

Let’s face facts: modern engines are made much better, last much longer, and most people anymore just don’t keep cars long enough to have the engine rebuilt.

I also think it’s probably true that because of that increased reliance on things that have a decreased reliance on building/rebuilding, that’s made it so that shops like that really aren’t that profitable.

There used to be four or five shops here in Denver that did nothing but crankshafts: now there’s only one. Ditto for machine shops that used to do heads and blocks and stuff like that ; now there’s really just a couple in the greater Denver metro area.

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Same thing with driveshaft places in Houston.

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I dunno.

My speculation has been that there simply isn’t much interest in becoming a machinist. There are too few young hands interested in that line of work.

That certainly plays in.

One of the last remaining machine shops in my area does (my estimate) about 80% truck/industrial type work and 20% automotive. They’re doing valve jobs on fork lift engines, cylinder boring on tractor engines, and such.

Working on automotive stuff is pretty much just to accomodate hobbyists these days, it seems. Low priority stuff.


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That is an excellent point: it goes to my point that on DDs, not many people rebuild anymore… and many DD engines simply aren’t easily rebuildable, if at all (alloy blocks/Nikasil cylinders).


I wonder if Jim Jhnson’s sun coast is still active.

I recall he and John had interesting exchanges in Hemmings.
but, aye, andrew weinberg is easy to talk to. Albeit, john helped me a lot.


I worked with an engine builder at Panoz who owned his own machine shop in Houston for 20 years.

He ended up throwing in the towel in around 1999, because he said it just wasn’t worth the constant stress of trying to turn a profit. He said he would stop by the tooling store nearly every day on his way to work, and typically spent $100-150 on replacement cutters, etc….I think his hourly rate was in the $60-70/hr range at the time.

He said he once read a study on the automotive industry that ranked the profit margins of each sector: the highest was Pick-a-Part junkyards, and the lowest was machine shops.


I have a good friend who runs a precision machinery company in LA that works mostly for the film industry; he’s won 2 Academy Awards for his technical contributions. Fascinating guy, and got his start as a hot rodder in the 60s. Anyway, he frequently bemoans the inability to find machinists. He can offer excellent pay and benefits, but there just are not many people qualified.

He finds most who are interested in STEM have the pressure to go to college instead of trade schools and apprenticeships. Yes, we need more engineers and scientists, but we’re gaining those at the cost of fewer people who can fabricate.