Jerry Seinfeld’s Car Collection
Jerry Seinfeld is a well-known comedian. Most people are familiar with him from his work in his long-running sitcom, Seinfeld. He’s also a popular stand-up comedian and has appeared in film and television several times since his career started in the 1970s. His extremely successful comedy career has amassed impressive personal wealth; he was the highest-earning comedian in 2008, and has been ranked among top-earning celebrities several times before. He’s currently estimated to have a net worth of $350 million.
What does Jerry have to do with cars?
High-paid celebrities often have odd hobbies or collections as a way to spend some of the extra accrued wealth. In Jerry Seinfeld’s case, he collects cars — Porsches, to be exact. In fact, he has one of the largest Porsche collections in the world, numbering 47 Porsches in all. At one time, he even rented out a hangar at the Santa Monica airport to house all of them. Now they reside in a two-story garage in New York, a project which cost $1.4 million to build and incited numerous complaints from his neighbors during its five year construction.
Why Porsche Cars?
Why not? Seinfeld is far from the only celebrity to maintain an expensive car collection. Jay Leno, for example, keeps a massive garage filled with collector cars of numerous rare makes and models. Seinfeld is somewhat unique in the celebrity car collection field for his narrow focus.
The comedian’s love for Porsches actually began by driving Volkswagens. In 1977, the then-unknown performer drove a Volkswagen and grew to appreciate the vehicle’s quality. Once he became successful, he was able to purchase his first Porsche; he has bought nothing else since then.
Seinfeld has said that he appreciates Porsches for their simplicity and minimalism as well as the quality of their engineering. He’s not the only person with a healthy appreciation for these sporty cars!
Porsche began producing cars during the second World War. The vehicles utilize some of the engineering practices of Volkswagen and then streamline them into efficient, sleek and sporty racing vehicles. Porsche ranks among Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bentley as one of the most sought-after and expensive luxury cars. The German engineering makes them surprisingly sturdy, and a well-maintained Porsche will last for a very long time. Of course, most people who can afford a Porsche probably don’t have much problem keeping it maintained, and Porsche owners often only drive the car occasionally. In Seinfeld’s case, he would only need to drive each car about 10 times a year in order to rotate through his collection.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Porsche Car Collection
The Porsche collection itself is rumored to be worth around $15 million. Among the 47 vehicles are numerous Porsche 911s, 10 Porsche Boxters, a Porsche 964 and a 1944 Porsche 550 Spyder identical to the car James Dean died in. Seinfeld also owns a rare Porsche 959, one of only 337 ever built.
Seinfeld has a private mechanic who carefully maintains and rebuilds even the most classic cars in the collection. This allows every one of them, even the ’49 Gmuend Porsche, to be fully drivable. The only exception is the Porsche 959, which is not road legal. In fact, none of the 337 Porsche 959s made can be driven as they have not passed safety and emissions testing; Porsche refused to turn over four of the vehicles for destruction during the testing.
Many of Seinfeld’s Porsches are housed in a two-story garage in Manhattan. He renovated the garage from an old plumbing and heating factory on West 83rd. From the outside, the building is easy to pass by. On the inside, it’s been rebuilt with white terrazzo floors and touchscreen panels on the walls to control all of the electronics, including custom industrial elevators.
The garage also has an 844 square foot relaxation space upstairs. The apartment houses a kitchen, bathroom, plasma screen TV and pool table. Altogether, the project cost $1.4 million and took five years to complete. The garage only holds 20 cars; the others are probably still held in Seinfeld’s California aircraft hangar.
The Porsche 911 was introduced as 1963 and continues to be one of the most popular models made by the company. It features a rear-mounted engine and independent rear suspension. Until 1998, the engine was air-cooled. The vehicle is one of the most popular race cars on the market and is one of the most successful competition vehicles.
Jerry Seinfeld drives a wide variety of 911s from different years of their development, from fresh new models to restored classics. He said in an interview that he does not buy first edition cars, but he does have several new models from subsequent editions.
The Boxster is a mid-engine roadster that was first released in 1996. Since then, it has received two motor upgrades and numerous appearance tweaks, although the basic appearance of the vehicle has remained much the same. The Boxster was Porsche’s best-selling vehicle until the company introduced the Cayenne SUV in 2003. Seinfeld owns 10 different Boxsters, each in a different color and from different years.
1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
This model was only built from 1953 to 1956. It has a low-profile silhouette, making it ideal for racing. James Dean was famously driving a ’55 Porsche 550 Spyder when he crashed and died. Seinfeld’s vehicle is the same model and an identical shade of gray, although he has modified it slightly to streamline its appearance.
The ’55 Porsche 550 Spyder is one of the most commonly replicated car models due to its famous association with both James Dean and Steve McQueen, but mint-condition originals like the one Seinfeld drives are quite rare.
Porsche Carrera GT
Produced only between 2004 and 2006, the Porsche Carrera GT traces its roots back to the Porsche 911. It has a mid-engine design and is extremely lightweight. Only 1,200 were ever built, and it is a popular vehicle among celebrities: In addition to Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren also own this type of vehicle.
Jerry Seinfeld is rumored to have put his Carrera GT up for sale in February of 2011, but it’s not clear if it was ever purchased.
The rarest car in Seinfeld’s collection, the Porsche 959 was actually designed in 1983 purely to showcase the mechanical prowess of Porsche designers. The company was required to build 200 of the vehicles to fulfill legal obligations in Germany before the Porsche could be raced. All of the Porsche 959s that were ever built were pre-purchased by car enthusiasts worldwide.
Porsche refused to give up four of its precious cars — valued at $225,000 — for safety and emissions tests in America, making the cars illegal to own or operate on American soil. Bill Gates reportedly attempted to smuggle a Porsche 959 into California, where it was subsequently impounded.
Car aficionados in America lobbied for the right to import these expensive collector’s cars, and after 10 years the government finally passed a “show and display” law that would allow people to import this and other vehicles that are not road-legal in the country on the condition that the cars would not be driven.
The good news for Seinfeld is that he may soon be able to drive his Porsche 959. EPA regulations for emissions testing are only viable for 21 years; now that the vehicle has reached antique car status, it may soon become legal to drive it for a very few thousand miles each year.
Is There a Porsche Seinfeld Doesn’t Like?
Despite his life-long love of Porsches, there is one model that Seinfeld will never buy: the Porsche Cayenne. The Cayenne is Porsche’s luxury midsized SUV. It seats five people and has been produced since 2002. They retail in the mid $40,000 and are a popular choice among families that want the luxury of a Porsche but the practicality of a multi-person vehicle.
Seinfeld admits that he isn’t a fan of the Cayenne. For family outings, he drives his wife and children in a Honda minivan. He stated in an interview that SUVs are “stupid,” especially for city-dwellers.
Can I View All of Seinfeld’s Collection?
Jerry Seinfeld keeps his personal life rather private, and his cars are included in that. Although his large multi-car garage is opulent on the inside, it’s easy to miss from the outside and is certainly not a museum. In fact, the exact number and value of all of his cars is unknown because he has not chosen to display his full collection at any one time.
He has spoken with numerous car enthusiasts over the years, providing several interviews and appearing at conventions and car shows. Porsche seems to value their relationship with the celebrity, and his enthusiasm runs deeper than ostentation or a desire to simply show off. Seinfeld genuinely loves cars, and he appreciates Porsche engineering and design. He’s had the opportunity to drive several of his favorite cars at racing speeds on the German Autobahn as well as once at a car show for the premier of the Porsche Carrera.
Celebrities are often well-known for quirky habits, strange collections and excessive spending. In Seinfeld’s case, at least the collection is at least somewhat practical and supports a company known for quality engineering and technological innovation.
Although most people will never have a collection as rare or extensive as Seinfeld’s, many people are able to own a Porsche of their own; unlike other exotic luxury cars, Porsche’s are readily available in the U.S. and can be surprisingly affordable. You can buy a Boxster for under $50,000, making it just a little pricier than a brand-new Chevy Suburban and cheaper than some current-model Lexus sedans.
If you’re feeling green with envy at Seinfeld’s extensive collection, take heart from knowing that at least you’re not paying for car insurance on 47 luxury sports cars!