For someone who literally has a treasure trove of classic and exotic cars sitting in his garage, Jay Leno seems to have quite the soft sport for his Ford Festiva-based Shogun hatchback. Make no mistake about it though, the Shogun isn’t just an ordinary hatchback. In fact, it’s probably the closest thing to physically embodying what the term “pocket rocket” means.
The history of the Shogun dates all the way back to 1989 when two engineers – Chuck Beck and Rick Titus – decided to take a seemingly boring Festiva and swapped the backseat for a Yamaha-sourced 3.0-liter V-6 engine from the Ford Taurus SHO that pumped out 220 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The two also worked on the aerodynamics (check out those massive rear fenders) of the car until it weighed just 2,190 pounds. The result was a hatchback that could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just five seconds to go with a top speed of 145 mph. Remember, this was 1989.
Only seven Shoguns were built and Leno, like the true collector that he is, owns chassis ’003’ of the seven models. Once he got it, Leno injected NOS into the engine, adding another 90 horsepower to the mix and bringing the total up to around 300 horsepower. Needless to say, the Shogun drives unlike any hatchback from any era, including this one.
Combine that with the sound of the engine and the sheer rarity of the car and you get a proper hot hatch that has clearly lasted the test of time. Just watching Leno take the Shogun out for a spin and hearing that Taurus SHO engine come to life is why this hot hatch has earned its status as a certified pocket rocket.