Leno drives a rocket-launching GTO fit for a spy

Thom Sherwood has his priorities in order. When Jay Leno asked the Pontiac fanatic what his second choice in car brands would be, he was quick to answer, “There is no other choice.” Sherwood brought his 1967 GTO for Jay to drive in the latest installment of Jay Leno’s Garage—the same GTO featured in the 2002 movie “xXx” starring Vin Diesel.

One of five driving cars built for filming the 2002 movie, Sherwood’s car is decked out with side pipes and a strange-looking hood scoop (we’ll get to that later). Inside, it’s stuffed with prop firearms and features a dash crammed full of gauges, displays, and other gadgets fit for an international spy. Once a hardtop, the movie modifications included cutting off the top of the GTO—which is a real GTO by the way, not a Tempest or LeMans clone—so that it could facilitate easier egress. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the pivotal scene where Vin Diesel’s character uses the topless modification to great effect.

The really interesting movie magic is revealed when the hood is popped. The numbers-matching Pontiac 400 V-8 and Quadrajet carb are flanked by compressed air cylinders used to turn the top pair of the GTO’s stacked headlights into rocket launchers for the movie’s stunts. Sherwood notes that the stunts that are shown in the movie are practical; the cars used in filming actually shot “rockets” from tubes behind the headlights, and the hood scoop was used to shoot flames. The fuel line plumbing under the hood proves it.

After sharing the story of how he came to possess the car in 2005, and the overview of the movie modifications, Jay and Sherwood hit the streets and talk Pontiac history, touching on some of the brand’s innovations and best ideas.

If you’re a muscle car fan, a Pontiac fan, or a movie car fan, you’ll want to see this episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage” and hear the story of Sherwood’s “xXx” GTO.