Southampton car restorer working for celebrities reveals his ‘nine lives’

A SHIRLEY man who started a vehicle restoration and customizing business at the height of the pandemic has said his business is “thriving.”

Jacob Saunders, 39, is the owner of Lived 9Lives Kustoms Ltd and has been restoring cars since he was a child.

One of his favorite recent projects was a Mazda B2000 minitruck build earlier this year.

“The amount of fabrication and detail on the car was great, the customer was over the moon with it.

“Projects like these can cost tens of thousands of pounds but no matter the size of the build we can cater for a specific budget.

“I like to add to people’s joy through their pride and joy, that’s what it’s all about, creating that smile.”

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His business has gone from strength to strength despite opening in the pandemic.

“If you can make it through a pandemic, you can make it through anything,” he said.

Jacob came up with the name of the business and designed the logo with his friend Mark James.

“It represents some of the struggles I’ve had in life and in the motor industry. I see this business as my last chance in some ways.

“It also represents the fact that I always seem to land on my feet.”

Not only did Jacob have to deal with the challenge of running a new business during lockdown, but he also faced the loss of a family member.

His sister, Ellie Griffiths, died from cancer last year and he has been completing charity work in her memory.

Jacob, originally from Chichester, previously worked for Rolls Royce in quality control, inspecting cars as they came off the production line.

“It was a great job,” he said, “but I’m happy to be doing something more creative now.”

Jacob’s shop is fully booked until next year, and he puts his success down to “finding a niche.”

Jacob gets a wide variety of cars in the garage, this week there is an Aston Martin, a Mitsubishi and the shell of a BMW.

“Anything that involves fiddling with cars I enjoy.

“I’ve worked on the cars of a few celebrities and sportspeople since I started, but I can’t name them because it’s quite a personal thing.”

By George Lithgow

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