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Jay Leno owns more cars than we could ever collectively hope to buy in our lifetimes, but there’s one car that started his hobby. That is the Jaguar XK120.
Leno recalled the story that surrounds his love affair with the XK120 on a new episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. According to the comedian and car guru, when he was 9 years old, he spotted an XK120 while riding his bicycle. After watching the owner polish the car for about 10 minutes, the man asked if Leno wanted to sit in the car. Star-struck, Leno said yes.
The avid car collector never forgot that car, and when he had begun earning money in the 1980s, he purchased the car seen in the video. It was the first of many more cars Leno would give a home to in his collection. But this car holds a special place in his heart.
Jaguar built the XK120 from 1948 to 1954. The XK120 was quite a wild thing when it debuted in 1948, as it offered amazing performance for the day. The British sports car pre-dates the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette, which made it truly exotic.
The XK120 gets its name from the fact it could go 120 mph with its 3.4-liter inline-6 engine that provides 160 horsepower worth of gusto. Leno sad he’s actually pulled the original 3.4-liter engine in favor of a larger 3.8-liter engine from another Jaguar model. He also swapped the original transmission for a 5-speed manual.
The engine sounded glorious as Leno cruised around in the video. Otherwise, the car as Leno showed it is entirely stock.
As for the XK120 Leno saw as a child, the owner still has it. He even invited Leno to come see the car again, which has sat parked in a garage since the 1970s.