With a collection of approximately 286 vehicles in his garage (automobiles and motorcycles included), former Tonight Show host, Jay Leno, owns what only few people in the world can rival. Leno, a comedian who Time magazine says got rich by virtue of being America's class clown, has an estimated net worth of $350 million, but he still gets to crack his jokes on his new show, Jay Leno's Garage. His love for cars began way back when he was a kid, growing up in Andover, Massachusetts. He told Time that there were always broken tractors, lawn mowers, or vehicles to be fixed, and fondly recalled when someone abandoned an old Renault when he as about 11 or 12 years of age.
So he eventually learned how to fix cars and get stuff running. Initially, he never set out to collect cars, he simply bought whatever he liked, but followed three things: the technical and historical significance of the car, the fun in driving it, and its aesthetic appeal. Leno has a great collection of prized and pricey cars, some ordinary folks can afford, and others only those with the high millions can ride in and get to keep. From two Doble steam cars, to a sedan, and roadster, Turbine cars, and super cars, Leno's garage, found in a series of large hangars as Burbank Airport, is a sensation and has become one of the most popular, according to Wall Street journal.
Check out just 20 of the cars from his collection, some you can actually buy, but others that, well, we'll just leave it to those with really deep pockets to enjoy.
20 Could Afford: 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GTR350
It would be so unfair to not to include this great domestic muscle car in this list. In his garage, Leno has several other Mustangs but let’s just focus our attention on this machine- 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. Leno is rich and loves cars and that is why he bought one out of the 37 of these babies that were made for that year.
The car was built with one objective: to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original 1965 model.
Just like its classic Shelby model, the car is styled with the same colours. Under the hood of the GT350 is a powerful naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V-8 that produce 517 and 581Nm of torque and wonderful exhaust sounds - a six-speed manual is its sole gearbox.
19 Could Afford: 1970 Mazda Cosmo
Seeing Leno drive an amazing car on the streets of LA isn’t a surprise, because he's just doing what he always does (and loves). He has once been spotted behind the wheel driving a 1970 Mazda Cosmo. With its Wankel engine, this car is phenomenal. The sad news for those who wanted to buy it locally is that it was never exported to the domestic market. Leno claims that there are only three specimens of these cars. The small sports car comes with a 110-hp two-rotor Wankel engine. The engine is light, small and has few parts. This engine came with some setbacks which included its seal would wear, its power went down while its fuel consumption and emission went up. Leno’s Cosmo series is the 11 that he got from a pilot who lived in Japan. To restore the car, Leno changed a few features including two funky speakers in the back window.
18 Could Afford: 1970 Challenger R/T
This is one of the most enduring icons from the 1960s and 70s muscle car era and Jay Leno owns it. The Dodge is fitted with a Hemi Power plant, an engine that was either mated to 3-speed TorqueFlite automatic or optional 4-speed manual transmission, with a pistol-grip shifter. During its generation this car was the fastest and most furious.
It comes in both hard-top and convertible options, and was built in the platform of the Plymouth Barracuda, but it has a two-inch longer wheelbase.
From the factory, it is paired to an SE package which included leather seats and smaller rear windows. The standard R/T came with a 383 engine and also fitted with two hood scoops that took over from shaker scoops.
17 Could Afford: 1991 LCC Rocket
Leno knows how to drive in style and you would expect nothing less than beauty from this world great car collector. In his garage, he has a 1991 LCC Rocket that was arguably the first of its kind. The LCC is an ultra-light, ultra-focused road legal sports car. The pioneer of this car was Gordon Murray, the very same person who built the sleek McLaren F1. Leno’s LCC is plastered in hot rod-red paint and very unique too since it is said to be the only LCC in America. The 1991 LCC Rocket is fitted with Yamaha’s five-valve genesis 1,000cc motorbike engine enabling the car to produce 145-hp and made the car be quick enough seeing as it was so light.
16 Could Afford: 1955 Buick Roadster
If you have money you can buy any car you heart aches for, from high end vehicles to oddities, which is what Jay Leno pretty much does. In his car collection are the most common vehicles including the rare but basically stock touring and sport cars but an exception to all those is a silver and black Buick Roadster. Despite the fact that the car is heavily chromed and resembles a stocker, it is actually a wolf in sheep’s cloth. The popular TV personality got the Buick after moving to L.A. in the 1970s before he began his professional career. It is said that he even used to sleep in it. He used the car for a quite a long time until he started getting some good money. Major patience!
15 Could Afford: 1975 Custom Plymouth Duster
Back when Jay Leno was a normal gear head, like most of us, he worked at a Massachusetts car dealership, where he met and became friends with Paul Annunziata - a master mechanic and drag racer. They parted ways at some point and Leno went into TV while Paul continued with his racing dream. In the 70s, Paul built a 1000 horsepower Duster that won numerous awards. However, he decided to let go of the car, so he sold it to Leno, under an agreement that the latter wouldn't sell it. Leno agreed, paid Paul for it, which the latter donated to a local auto-restoration school, after which he passed on in 2011. Leno picked up the car and featured it on his Jay Leno's Garage show.
The car was built over a five year period.
Under the hood is a 426 cubic-inch Hemi V8 engine from a Dodge Superbee, with a Roots-style supercharger strapped on it, plus a pair of carburetors. Leno added a few mild mods such as a larger radiator, and rejetted the carburetors.
14 Could Afford: 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
This is one of the best cars of the late 60s. When you walk into Leno’s garage, you will see a bright red and perfectly restored 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429. During their time, the Boss 429s were underrated in terms of their competitor’s power - Mopar Hemis produced 420-plus while Boss 429 gave out only 375 and 450 lb-ft of twist. One thing that Leno saw would hinder better performance of the car was the heavy engine that was directly over the axle. He also pointed out that the Boss 429 had competition suspension and heavy duty sway bars both at the back and front. Some of the restoration done to the car included production chalk marks, dealer stickers and the smog pump.
13 Could Afford: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
Leno is always attracted to a car for various reasons and for the Toronado, he loved it because of its distinctive styling and historical significance. This car boasts of being the first high-volume front-wheel-drive car that was produced by the General Motors.
The Toronado was fitted with a 425-cubic-inch V-8 that was mated to the front wheels through a robust transaxle.
Leno’s car has still retained the original engine and sends power to the rear wheel via a C5 Corvette transaxle. The C5 chassis was modified and grafted under the car’s bodywork. The Corvette chassis was reduced at the firewall area and extended 14-inches to the rear that pushed the wheels into position within the Toronado fenders. The car’s basic suspension, aluminum double wishbones together with transverse leaf springs fixed at the front and rear were left unchanged.
12 Couldn't Dream Of: 1970 Plymouth Superbird
The Plymouth Superbird is definitely the king of muscle and not to mention the fact that it is very rare. In the modern era, the Plymouth might be seen as a small boat, but during its time it was a state of the art car. The car was actually an original Hemi car covered in Vitamin C Orange mated with a matching factory four-speed manual gearbox. Dunham says that was literally a barn find in Ohio where it was formally owned by a dentist. The comedian later took it for factory restoration and actually looks so original and new, all the way from the overspray underneath, to the crooked buttons on the bare bones dash. Since it had poor sales, dealers had its wings and nose removed to look like a normal Plymouth Road Runner but with the wings, the car looked very peculiar.
11 Couldn't Dream Of: 1963 Jaguar E-type coupe
You've just gotta respect Jay Leno for having acquired the 1962 3.8 Jaguar E-type. One funny thing about this car is that in the past, it had only one owner who had kept it in mint condition for over 50 years. This car is a time machine since it is timeless and whoever has it deserves a lot of respect.
This car had been in storage for two years before Leno acquired it.
It had some corrosion that he pointed out when he took it for repairs. What the mechanics had to do was to buff it out and fix a few things to restore the original beautiful Jaguar.
10 Couldn't Dream Of: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The Corvette Stingray is one of the integral parts of any incredible car collection being that it is one of the mostly recognizable cars of all time. And Leno has always loved it ever since he was young since the car was fuel-injected - something that was rare at that time since most cars were carburated. Leno acquired this car as a sight unseen but later gave out the car to be restored by expert Mike McCluskey who replaced all the modifications with new stock parts. To ensure continuity, the Stingray was given a modification to ensure that it drove and looked like a ’63 Stingray. What made this car desirable was the standard 327 CID engine that produced 355bhp.
9 Couldn't Dream Of: Audi R8 Spyder
The Audi R8 Spyder is more than just a sports car - it is an incredible ride with style and power. Racing enthusiasts are aware that the Audi R8 is one the fastest cars in the world. Just to get this car in Leno's garage cost about $157,000. This car is powered by 533 base horsepower 5.2-liter V-10 engine which it shares with the coupe, and delivers a scintillating performance. Just like the coupe, the Spyder also features a light, stiffer and stronger Audi Space aluminum chassis. The combination of the powerful engine and a lighter construction makes the car sprint from zero to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds and not give up at that point to reach its top speed of 198 mph.
8 Couldn't Dream Of: 1909 Steamer
One of the vintage models Leno has in his garage is the 1909 Stanley Steamer. This car comes from the days when cars were purely running on steam instead of fuel. This meant that its driver had to stop after every 50 miles and squirt the bearing fitted in the Steamer. The Steamer is neither quick nor convenient for use. Before Leno gets this car to run, he takes 20 to 30 minutes, but, despite all the odds, he still uses it occasionally.
In the car there are no electric components; all its pumps are run by hand and they are fitted under the floor boards.
While the Steamer is on the road it has a direct-drive effect. Its engine is directly mated to the wheels hence a peculiar way of cruising and what's more incredible about this car is how quiet it runs. He got the car at a decent price of $185,000 and later restored it to its original state.
7 Couldn't Dream Of: 1986 Lamborghini Countach
In the ’80s Lamborghini brought something so special to the world - a Lamborghini Countach that features a futuristic design and every car enthusiast loved. Leno bought this car and did some work on it which cost him over $200,000. This car is powered by a 455 base horsepower, 5167cc DOHC V-12 engine with six downdraft Weber carburetors, paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The Countach also features front and rear independent suspension with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers. One of the changes that Leno did to the car was the deletion of the rear wing since he thought it looked like a bit too much.
6 Couldn't Dream Of: Blastolene Special
If you have played Gran Turismo then you are probably familiar with the tank car. In the game it seems to be fiction but Jay Leno actually owns the car in his garage. The Blastolene Special was produced by the Blastolene brothers. After taking ownership of the car for around $350,000, he improved it to make it street legal and the changes included the engine. The car features a tank engine and a custom aluminum body. Some of the other changes that Leno did included new gearbox, rear brakes, new electrical system and not leaving out some improvements on the chassis. Jay never wanted to leave anything unturned so he fixed the car with fuel injection and twin-turbocharges to produce 1600-hp which was done to improve its mileage which would have been at 5 mpg.
5 Couldn't Dream Of: 1963 Turbine
The 1963 Chrysler Turbine is a masterpiece that was designed with an aim of producing a car that could run on a gas turbine engine. The engine was smooth and durable, fitted with few moving parts that include fan blades on the shaft that was separated by a combustion chamber. The compressor in the engine put pressure on the incoming air to mix with fuel and ignite.
The engine power was rated at 130-hp and 425 lb-ft of torque.
The only sad part of this car was that it was never available for the public for sale. Only 55 of these cars were ever made but were later destroyed leaving only nine of them that were either taken for display or sold to uber rich folks like Jay Leno. It is said Leno forked out $415,000 to acquire this car, and besides Leno, there are only two other people who own this amazing machine.
4 Couldn't Dream Of: 1994 McLaren F1
The F1 is just one of the cars in the TV presenter’s collection. This car is fantastic but unfortunately very expensive. Leno acquired his at $970,000 and it was just one out of the 106 models that were produced. This exclusive sports car has once been considered as the fastest car in the world, having a top speed of 243 miles per hour. Apart from its handsome looks and blazing speed, the car is peculiar from the rest since its driver’s seat is fixed at the middle. The F1 is powered by an extremely powerful 6.1-liter V12 that returns 627bhp with huge torque at low revs. The power is transferred to the rear wheel is from a F1-style carbon clutch through a transversely mounted six-speed transmission. This car has no drivers aids such as traction control and power steering.
3 Couldn't Dream Of: 2014 McLaren P1
The McLaren P1 is one of the most expensive cars in Leno’s garage coming with a price of $1.35 million. Leno is one of the few lucky men to have acquired one of these 375 ultimate sports cars that were ever made. Everything in this car is superb from its design, performance and speed. It sprints from zero to 60 in three seconds and continues to pull hard to reach the car's top speed of 217 mph. It is fitted with a 727-hp twin-turbo V-8, a 177-hp electric motor engine connected to a lithium-ion battery pack together with mass power electronics. As much as Leno can drive this car for six miles on electricity, the major purpose of the engine-mounted motor is to smooth power delivery.
2 Couldn't Dream Of: 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing Coupe
In Leno’s garage is a beautiful red 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing Coupe. Leno has turned this old Mercedes into a master piece.
This car was ahead of its time, coming with a tubular space frame, fully independent suspension, and a fuel injected SOHC six cylinder engine.
Leno did some adjustment in the car, he redid the transmission, the brakes and the motor. He replaced the original engine that was estimated to produce 220 to 240 horsepower. Leno and his team also placed modern electronic ignition in the car. You would love the gull-wing doors but be more infatuated with the car’s technology features that included the fuel injection system which was the world first. The car also features an aluminum space frame chassis that led to a unique door-opening solution.
1 Couldn't Dream Of: 2006 Eco Jet
Do you want any proof to know that Leno is one of the greatest car collector of all time? Then check out this priceless 2006 Eco Jet which he got in collaboration with General Motors. This is a real machine that was inspired by the 1963 Chrysler Turbine and 1950s GM’s Firebird jet cars. It was Leno together with his garage tech who worked together and drew the concept which GM actualized. The car looks great and unique, and you can’t get this car anywhere since it is only Leno who owns one. The car’s interior was crafted from materials that could be recycled such as Alcantara and man-made suede since he never uses any animal products to keep the environment safe. The GM components used in the car include Brembo carbon-fibre brakes, suspension arms from Z06 C6 Corvette. The car is powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine that produces 700-bhp and 500 lb-ft of torque mated with GM 4-speed automatic transmission.
Sources: caranddriver.com, popularmechanics.com, rmsothebys.com