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Jay Leno shows off his first collector car, a 1954 Jaguar XK120

Grab a look at Leno's prized possession in the video

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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.

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2 Comments

  • Robert Shookus
    November 18, 2018, 8:53 AM

    My first spirts car: next door to EN (my Sigma Nu fraternity at UVM-1968) sat an XK-120M – BRG).
    I sat in it many times (even in Vermont’s cold weather) and dreamed of making it mind).
    Thanks Jay for bringing back the memories.
    Shook

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  • James McIntire
    November 19, 2018, 10:47 AM

    Every car guy/girl has that one car that they look to that first got them hooked. The one that started their interest in this hobby. For Jay Leno it was apparently the Jaguar XK120; and what a beautiful car it is too I must add! For me, it was a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air. I first saw one as a little kid in the early 80’s when they were just starting to become collectible. I’ve loved them ever since. Another such car for me was the 1965 Ford Mustang.To this day I’ve never met a Mustang that I didn’t like, and that even includes the unloved Mustang II.

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