Jay Leno Pilots the Ultra-rare Jaguar XJR-15

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The car-loving comedian straps on a headset and takes flight in the V12-powered race car for the road.

There’s a reason why we said Jay Leno pilots the Jaguar XJR-15 you’ll see in the video above.

Sure, a car with a 6.0-liter V12 and rear-wheel drive needs to be controlled by skilled hands while it zooms through the air, even if it is just the air above a road. And it’s true that since Jaguar Sport (a Jaguar subsidiary formed by the cooperation of Jaguar and Tom Walkinshaw Racing) only made 53 XJR-15s, one of them probably costs as much as a plane.

Perhaps we used the word “pilot” because the cockpit of the XJR-15 is cramped even for two people and brings the interior of a small aircraft to mind. Maybe it’s because the car’s sleek, curvaceous lines make it look as if it can slip through the air like a fighter jet. The XJR-15 is made out of carbon fiber, much like certain aircraft. Or maybe we chose the word “pilot” because the giant 12-cylinder engine drinks gas (it only gets an estimated 9-10 mpg, according to its owner, Dr. Jasbir Dhillon), like an airplane.


ALSO SEE: The Jaguar XJR-15 is the Most Underrated Supercar of the ’90s


jaguarforums.com Jay Leno's Garage Jaguar XJR-15

You’ll know why once Leno gets behind the controls of the XJR-15. In case you haven’t done that yet, we’ll tell you. We said Jay Leno pilots the XJR-15 because it’s so damn loud! It’s like the inside of a small plane. And that’s with a regular five-speed gearbox, not the available straight-cut gears. We actually feel bad for Leno’s audio team. Even with all of their wizardry and Leno and Dhillon using their headsets, it’s hard to hear them over the constant engine and outside noise that fills the small cabin.

That rawness fits the character of the XJR-15, which is not that far removed from a race car. In fact, it’s a production car cousin to the 1988 Le Mans-winning Jaguar XJR-9. It’s an analog machine; Leno praises the clutch, but admits he has to muscle the car to get it to do what he wants. Trust us. You might not be able to hear him when he says it, but the words come out of his mouth. In a scream, of course.

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Derek Shiekhi contributes to a variety of Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including J-K Forum , Jaguar Forums, and 5 Series. He's also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.

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