Jay Leno’s Car Collection
Jay Leno isn’t the only famous comedian with an obsession for cars. Unlikely Porsche-collecting Jerry Seinfeld, however, Leno’s fascination with vehicles extends to a wide variety of types and styles. The comedian, whose estimated worth is around $150 million, can certainly afford to splurge on his collection. Altogether, Leno has approximately 100 cars and 90 motorcycles ranging from antiques to top-of-the-line sports cars. He also has tractors, buses and several aircraft.
Some celebrity car collections are mere matters of eccentricity but cars are an obvious passion for Leno. He’s also not afraid to proudly display it to the world. In addition to collecting and restoring vehicles, he maintains a website, JayLenosGarage.com, that lovingly displays all of the vehicles with photographs, videos and accompanying text. He regularly contributes to a column in Popular Mechanics and also writes occasionally for The Sunday Times.
Before he became a popular comedian, Jay Leno worked at Foreign Motors of Boston near his home town. He hasn’t stopped working on cars since. Although he does hire two full-time mechanics to help maintain his collection, he does a huge amount of his restoration and maintenance by himself.
Leno has no children and is somewhat unique among celebrities for having no drug habits, alcohol addiction, gambling problems or other drama. He is happily wed to his wife and stays out of the tabloids. It would seem that the comedian’s passion for cars is a substitute for some of the other vices that sometimes overtake the rich and famous.
Jay Leno’s Garage
Jay Leno’s Garage is a website hosted by NBC showcasing the vehicles in Leno’s private collection. In addition to photos and videos about the cars themselves, the site includes restoration blogs, articles and trivia games. The website also promotes a community environment, with numerous places for readers to comment and engage with each other. There are also reader-submitted photos and other site content as well as a Facebook page for readers to interact on.
The Car Collection
Leno’s collection is without any specific unifying theme. Rather than focusing on any particular type or model of vehicle, he maintains a wide assortment of vehicles, all of them valuable and many of them quite rare. if there is a single through-line to the collection, it’s power: nearly all of Leno’s cars are ahead of their time, high-powered and high-performance. Whether hot rods or innovative new technologies, the cars in his garage are all designed for maximum performance, and he’s customized many further for even greater speeds. Within his massive collection, he has a number of sub-categories:
As Leno’s website puts it, these are among the “finest and fastest” cars ever made. The collection includes several models of Lamborghini, Corvette, Porsche, Lexus, Bugatti and McLaren. He also has a completely custom, exclusive jet-powered race car called the Tramontana that can reach speeds of 720 mph.
Many of Leno’s cars are exquisitely restored classic cars from the 1950s and ’60s. Some of his collection includes a ’56 Austin-Healey, 1955 Packard Caribbean, 1966 NSU Spider, 1954 Dodge Station Wagon, 1953 Hudson Hornet and more.
20th Century Steam Cars
Built around the turn of the 20th Century, these cars are very rare collector’s pieces. Leno owns several models of Stanley Steamers, all of them fully restored and in working order. His website hosts a blog following all the steps of each restoration.
From the sporty 2010 Tesla Roadster to the ultra-futuristic Aptera Electric Car, Leno maintains a wide variety of experimental electric cars. He has written several articles on the topic of alternative fuels and eco-friendly transportation and has appeared in multiple interviews on the topic as well.
His collection includes numerous other cars from other luxury car makers including DuPont, Fisker, Fiat, Maserati and familiar makers like Dodge, Ford and Pontiac. Due to the age of some of his vehicles, many pieces of the collection are truly priceless. It’s hard to put an exact figure on the value of the collection, especially as it continues to grow.
Leno’s vehicles aren’t museum pieces. He keeps all of them in working order and drives them regularly. In fact, he drives a new car to work each day. This requires him to maintain registration and insurance on every one of his vehicles, which is a feat almost as impressive as collecting them in the first place.
Where Does He Keep Them?
Leno keeps his cars stored in three sprawling garages in Burbank, California, where he lives. They total 17,000 square feet. In addition to the vehicles themselves, the garage is outfitted with collector’s items, memorabilia, art and other decor including a functional steam engine that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson.
In keeping with his affection for eco-friendly transportation and lifestyle, Leno powers his garage with solar panels. A rooftop array manages to power the air conditioner, tools, lights and other devices in all three garages while still generating enough electricity to feed back into the grid. The garage also has power-generating wind turbines.
The tools themselves are eco-friendly as well. A parts washer actually stripes grease and fluids at a microbial level, allowing water and carbon dioxide to release as by-products to reduce the total amount of chemicals being dumped from the garage. The cleaning products he uses are biodegradable and made of entirely nature-friendly ingredients, and his A.O. Smith Vertex water heater is 12% more efficient than a standard heater thanks to its helical coil heat exchanger.
The garage is also fitted with a full-size kitchen where Leno likes to cook meals for his garage staff. In addition to being an avid car collector, he is also fond of cooking and often shows off his culinary talents during his days off.
Did Jay Leno Sell His Cars?
A recent rumor suggests that Jay Leno sold all of his cars to an Arab sheikh for $1 billion. The rumor seems to be insubstantiated; the name of the sheikh has not been disclosed and there is very little information about any deals in progress.
It would be unlikely for Leno to sell his collection. The vehicles, while worth a substantial sum, are primarily a labor of love; it’s nearly impossible to get back all of the money spent restoring and maintaining so many rare automobiles. The collection’s numbers have fluctuated in the past as he’s bought and sold individual models, but it’s less likely that he would ever attempt to sell the entire collection.
More than likely, the rumor started as an April Fools day prank.
Can I Visit Jay Leno’s Garage?
Leno’s garage is a private collection, not a museum, so visits are off limits except for the occasional journalist. He has, however, run charity auctions in the past. The winner of the auction would be allowed to visit the garage and see all of the vehicles in person. In 2010, there were two winners and proceeds went to fund the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.
Leno has also opened his garage in the past to a visiting classroom from the University of San Diego. Students who were studying steam engines and other rare vehicles had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these vehicles in working order, an experience that most people would not have the pleasure of seeing.
Vehicle enthusiasts can keep an eye out to see if further special events are planned. For teachers, journalists or other people who have a special need to see the garage, attempting to contact Jay Leno about it may actually pay off. If not, you can get your exotic car fix by browsing his website and attempting a few classic car restorations of your own.