While most of us lust after the more exotic cars in Jay Leno’s collection, the comedian himself has a broader range of automotive interests. We’re sure he appreciates driving his McLaren MP4-12C, or his Lamborghini Muira, but Leno’s “one that got away” had much more humble beginnings.
From his time as a lot boy at a Ford dealership, Leno grew to love the 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint. Following the time honored recipe of a”big engine, small car,” the Ford Falcon Sprint tucked a 260-cubic-inch Ford V-8 between the front fenders of the compact Falcon.
While billed as a “performance car,” the Falcon Sprint’s performance would be relatively modest by today’s standards. Despite this, the car was campaigned with some success in World Rally competition, with relatively few modifications from stock form.
While surfing Bring A Trailer, Leno came across a 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint that was built to the same specs Leno would have used. The original 260 V-8 was pulled in favor of a 289 V-8, bored out to 302 cubic inches and mated to a five-speed transmission. In current trim, the car produces around 360 horsepower, which is plenty to provide solid entertainment.
A “Monte Carlo brace” (what we’d call a strut tower brace) was added to reduce chassis flex, the battery was moved to the trunk for better weight distribution and the car sports period-correct aftermarket gauges. Fitted with Hella rally lights and a “1963 Monte Carlo Rally” window sticker, the car looks like it came straight from a time-machine-equipped garage.
It goes without saying that Leno bought the car, then became friends with its former owner and builder. While we don’t have the same affinity for the 1963 Falcon Sprint that Leno does, we can appreciate the car for what it is and completely understand Leno’s mindset.
One of these day, a perfectly built 1973 Toyota Celica GT is going to cross our path, and when it does, we’ll be ready.