VotW – Jay Leno’s Jaguar 1954 XK120 OTS

We all start somewhere in the hobby. There is some event or person or car that flips the switch inside our head and leads us to follow the path of the car enthusiast. Some folks get addicted to horses or music or fishing, but if you are reading this, you are probably are addicted to cars. Our Video of the Week this go-round features the car that flipped the switch for a huge celebrity and even bigger car lover, Jay Leno.

In this video about his 1954 Jaguar XK120, Leno recounts the tale of seeing his first real sports car, his first Jaguar XK. He tells how the owner of that car let the then only 9-year-old Leno sit in the car, and he tells of the effect that has had upon his life.

The car in this video is gorgeous, make no mistake about that. And Leno relating this history of this car and of the XK line, in general, is great. What really makes this video stand out to me though, is the story of that guy who let Leno sit in the car back that, how it made such an impact on Leno, and then the footage of the two (or should I say three) of them getting back together.

We need to be aware of the impact we and our cars have on others. We need to be just as aware of how our interactions with those people help form their opinions of the cars we love and this hobby. Just imagine if that man, Don Milligan, had been crusty to the young Leno. Or had ignored him. Or simply had said “Hi”, but hadn’t let him sit in the car. It is these small interactions that will make our break our hobby.

Think about this as you watch the video and enjoy Leno’s love of the Jaguar XK120. And make sure to stay till the end for a glimpse of Leno driving Steve McQueen’s beautiful Jaguar XKSS.

By the way, this video is an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage from late last year. I’d like to thank them for producing such an excellent video and making it available.

Michael Carnell
Editor at Just British

Michael Carnell is the editor and founder of the Just British Online Motoring Magazine. As a lifelong British car enthusiast, he has owned or driven British cars of all ages from Austins and MGs to Jaguars and Triumphs. He currently owns a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 and a 1977 MGB. But there is always room for more - no matter what his wife says.


  1. I got to sit in a D-Type Jaguar when I was about eight years old – It was sitting outside of a car repair shop in North Atlanta on a trailer in the late 1950’s and my dad stopped to take a look at it. The owner of the shop saw that I was absolutely transfixed with the Jaguar and asked if I wanted to sit in it. I think that’s the moment that ruined me for life. Jaguars have a way of doing that – I saw Peter Egan get the same look on his face at Amelia Island a few years ago when he asked to sit in an a beautifully restored XK-120.

  2. My story is similar to Jay’s. I was a nine year old farm kid living off a dirt road in Sutton Mass. 1950, a gymkhana of British cars was passing by. Cars that I never seen before. They were like space ships compared to the lumbering 40’s cars. I ran into the house and got my Brownie Hawkeye camera. A 120 Jag roadster stopped so I could take it’s picture. It impregnated sports cars into my head. I have had a 56 140 coupe, 55 Porsche coupe, Triumph GT6, 544 Volvo, and now my baby of 15 years, 70-Jag E type coupe. I have that 120 Jag picture in my E type.

  3. Mine was a 1951 XK120 Coupe. A friend wanted to sell it for $175. I turned it down because it was missing a grille, had a bad paint job, and I had to double clutch it. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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