A final farewell to Neil Smith from XK Engineering Ltd
It was with great sadness that family, friends and colleagues past and present from XK Engineering Ltd and across the industry said a final farewell to Neil Smith at a fitting tribute at Nuneaton Crematorium in January. Neil died on 25th December aged 64 after suffering from a very rare cancer for about a year.
Neil began his working life as an apprentice at Jaguar Cars. In 1981, he went on to set up XK Engineering Ltd in Attleborough Fields, Nuneaton, with Phillip Docker, an engineer Jaguar specialist. Their investment of £50 each soon grew and by 1990 they needed to move into larger premises. With the help of Peter Ligertwood, who became Neil’s lifelong friend and business partner in many ventures, XK Engineering opened its doors in a brand new £1.2m, 40,000 square foot premises in Shilton, just outside Coventry. This location still being its home today.
Over the years, Neil & his team built on its reputation for craftsmanship and became one of the world’s foremost classic Jaguar specialists, enabling XK Engineering to undertake projects as diverse as concept cars and prototypes, limited edition prestige production vehicles, low volume niche manufacturers work, show vehicles, train body painting and more recently the painting of art pieces for both exhibitions and private collections.
Neil’s business interests widened and XK Engineering changed hands in the 90’s but his passion for Jaguars and cars old and new, and his contacts within the industry, meant he was never too far away. He loved to travel and had many adventures around the globe following his passion for cars and fishing.
He was a loyal friend, loving father and husband and always the consummate gentleman. He touched so many lives in such a positive way.
In 2019 he teamed up with the current owners to buy back XK Engineering and so began a new chapter. Neil’s enthusiasm, expertise and experience was integral to the XK Engineering ethos and remains so today. He was a loyal friend, loving father and husband and always the consummate gentleman. He touched so many lives in such a positive way.
Neil’s journey with cancer was short but brutal, but his family are at pains to say that he didn’t “lose his battle” with cancer. This implies that Neil was defeated and undermines his personality and lust for life – no-one would ever describe Neil as a loser. Neil died because he didn’t have a choice, not because he lost a battle that he was never destined to win. He will be sorely missed by everyone whose lives he touched but his legacy will live on.
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