• Jay Leno is not only a famous comedian and talk-show host, but also a passionate car collector
• His collection includes cars from vintage to recent, such as the 1957 Chrysler Imperial, 1994 McLaren F1, and 1932 Bowtie Deuce Roadster LS7
• His oldest car is the 1906 Advance Steam Traction Engine, and his most expensive is the 1989 Bentley Turbo R
• Jay also owns a 1921 Benz-Mercedes, 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300S Gullwing Coupe, and a custom-made "Tank Car" from 2001
• Jay's passion for cars is evident from his admiration for the history behind every auto, and his desire to take them for a spin
While Jay Leno’s fame comes from his comedic performances and his decades-long experience as a talk-show host, in recent years the automotive world has welcomed him as well. Thanks to his show “Jay Leno’s Garage”, the comedian has had a stable and entertaining platform to talk about his passion for cars of all types, going from vintage to the most recent and innovative inventions in the industry, while also interviewing some of the most iconic and popular celebrities and politicians of our time.
Knowing how deeply passionate about cars Jay is, it’s no wonder why his motorhead audience has grown interested in which cars he’s interested in when cameras are off, and the ones which actually have a place in his garage.
Are you also curious about Jay’s car collection? Stay here to know all about them, the history behind them, his career as an automotive expert writer, and some of the most iconic cars ever featured in his show!
- 1 Which Cars Are In His Garage?
- 2 1957 Chrysler Imperial
- 3 1993 Light Car Company Rocket
- 4 1994 McLaren F1
- 5 Jay’s Jaguars
- 6 1915 Hispano-Suiza
- 7 Jay’s Lamborghinis
- 8 1918 Stutz Bearcat
- 9 1906 Advance Steam Traction Engine
- 10 Jay’s Bentleys
- 11 1969 Lotus Elan
- 12 1932 Bowtie Deuce Roadster LS7
- 13 Jay’s Mercedes Benz
- 14 Jay’s “Tank Car”
Which Cars Are In His Garage?
Always a fan of automobiles, Jay Leno has spent decades collecting some of the most unique, beautiful and rare cars, eventually putting all of them into his California garage. Here are some of the most impressive pieces in his collection:
1957 Chrysler Imperial
One of his most interesting cars is the cream white 1957 Chrysler Imperial, due to its story. Its original owner was an old lady who didn’t drive it a lot, then was passed to the hands of a couple of owners who had it stored for many years before being bought by a friend of Jay. The particular story of this car resulted in it being preserved in a very good external condition before finding a new home in Jay’s garage, who admitted having changed only its interior and other functionality-related parts to make it road worthy again.
The 1957 Imperial’s unrestored condition is very rare, as according to Jay, cars manufactured in the 1950s didn’t last long for their lack of galvanized steel. The fact that this particular model is in such a good state inside and outside is almost miraculous.
1993 Light Car Company Rocket
Built in Jay Leno’s garage, this is the definition of a unique car, though that title was gained for more than just its impressive appearance and the fact that less than 50 of these were ever manufactured. Although the Rocket looks right out of a fictional movie, its designer Gordon Murray made it so not only would it be legal to take on the road, but so it would be the lightest car in the world as well.
For Jay Leno, the red Rocket in his garage is quite special in its own merit. He has had it since it came out on the market in 1993, and was also one of the first he talked about in his show. According to Jay, the car still conserves its original brakes due to how underused they are in such a light car, also admitting that changing the Rocket’s tires is rare considering how long-lasting they are, making it quite an impressive piece of design and engineering.
1994 McLaren F1
Following the line of cars designed by Gordon Murray, the 1994 McLaren F1 is probably the most famous one of them, also stored in Jay Leno’s garage. Despite being three decades old, the car looks modern and hasn’t aged at all, a great combination between lightness and a futuristic and well thought design, with an impressive speed that is surprisingly road legal.
The McLaren F1 is surely one of the most sought-after cars owned by Jay, who bought it for $800,000 back in the day, and has rejected every million dollar offer which has come his way ever since.
Knowing how much of a classic car fan Jay Leno is, it’s unsurprising that he owns a couple of Jaguars from the past century. The most antique ones are his baby blue XK120M and the white XK120, both built in 1954. This particular Jaguar model is known as ‘the first car to exceed 100 m.p.h’ as it’s noted by Jay Leno in his show, though the only difference is that the first is a coupe and classifies as modified, while the second is a convertible, and was one the first cars Jay ever bought.
Jay currently owns three 1963 Jaguar XKEs, though the varying condition of each of them is quite contrasting. One is what Jay defines as ‘original and unrestored’, a beautiful white 3.8 series bought by him in 2013 from its original owner. Then we have his red XKE, a convertible which has been modified with a new engine and all types of appearance-related details added.
The third is Jay’s newest Jaguar addition acquired in August 2022 from the family of a late neighbor. The car has been hoarded in an abandoned garage, and thus its condition isn’t the best, yet it stands in one piece and has almost no mileage. Jay is determined to bring it back to its past glory, though to date its restoration has hardly begun.
The Hispano-Suiza is not only one of the oldest cars in Jay’s collection, but also a very special part of the history of cars. This particular car was the first equipped with a V-8, originally a plane engine developed in World War I.
Jay has owned the Hispano-Suiza from the 1980s, when he won it at an auction and has ever since spent countless time and money in modifications to make it roadworthy and safe. As seen in “Jay Leno’s Garage”, this car isn’t the fastest in the world and its design is of a car which has existed for over 100 years, yet that’s what makes it so magical.
Throughout the years, Jay Leno has owned several Lamborghinis. The oldest is the 1967 Lamborghini Miura P400, which has an interesting history. It was originally bought by actor and singer Dean Martin, who gifted it to his son, who apparently accidentally blew its engine. From then on, the car was considered useless and after spending decades in a garage of a friend of Jay, he gifted it to the comedian in the late 1980s, telling him that the car ‘wasn’t worth anything anymore’. Jay then proceeded to change what was wrong, and now the stunningly bright yellow and functional sports car is parked in his garage.
Then we have Jay’s orange 1969 Miura S, which according to him was the reason that the ‘supercar’ term was coined. There’s also his red 1969 Espada, which he bought in 1986, choosing it over a Ferrari 330 GT C. Last but not least, we have Jay’s 1986 Countach, which he bought in the early 1990s, and served as his everyday car for years.
1918 Stutz Bearcat
The Stutz Bearcat is undoubtedly an historical car for many reasons. They were manufactured from 1912 to 1934, and the car was special for its status compared to other cars from the time.
The 1918 model owned by Jay is quite special in itself. Those who have been watching his “Jay Leno’s Garage” for quite some time, surely remember that he’s talked about this car several times and it’s always been clear that despite his unrelenting passion for cars, this particular model required more special treatment than most cars. The exterior was restored on the first try, but it took him and his team lots of time, study and two unsuccessful tries to finally sort out a functional and safe mechanical system for the Stutz.
All in all, the 1918 Stutz is a car which requires lots of work, but the result is undeniably worth it.
1906 Advance Steam Traction Engine
While this isn’t a vehicle which could be taken onto the road, the 1906 Advance Steam Traction Engine is a sight to behold, and undoubtedly worthy of being exhibited in a museum. As confirmed by Jay himself, this vehicle is the biggest in his collection, even when compared to other of his steam-powered cars.
The 1906 Advance Steam owned by Jay was rebuilt by his good friend Armand Rawlings, and was modified to use propane instead of coal. It’s truly what’s considered an old work of art of a vehicle, and it surely had many years of glory back when it came out.
Jay Leno is a huge fan of Bentleys, so it’s unsurprising that he’s collected some of the most gorgeous models of the manufacturer. The oldest in his possession is the 1924 Twin Turbo 3 liter Chassis, as part of what is considered the company’s original models for being directly engineered by founder Walter Owen Bentley, before the business was sold to Rolls-Royce in the 1930s.
Other Bentleys in Jay’s collection also fall into this category, such as the 1931 Bentley Mulliner 8-Litre, 1930 Bentley 27-Litre, and the 1929 Bentley Speed 6. He’s not shy about taking all these models onto the road, but the latter is the one he takes for a drive most often.
Last but not least, the 1989 Bentley Turbo R is the model considered by Jay as having taken ‘the mantle’ of the early days of the manufacturer.
— Jay Leno's Garage (@LenosGarage) July 7, 2016
1969 Lotus Elan
As the owner of the McLaren F1 and the 1993 Rocket, it’s evident that Jay Leno is a big fan of its creator Gordon Murray. This admiration also extends to the designer’s influences, especially the Lotus Elan, which Murray considers his favorite car.
Although Jay admits that back in his youth he preferred Corvettes, as time passed he understood Murray’s fascination with the Lotus Elan: ‘Once again he was right. It’s one of the most fantastic sport-cars of all time’, he said in “Jay Leno’s Garage”.
The 1969 model now in Jay’s possession came to him by fate. He had been unsuccessfully looking for a Lotus on sale, and came across a man who had owned a 1969 Elan since he was 19 years old. The auto wasn’t on sale, yet Jay told him to give him a call if he ever felt like selling it. Ten years had passed before Jay heard about the car again, when the man had sadly passed away and his widow contacted Jay to see if he still wanted to buy it.
1932 Bowtie Deuce Roadster LS7
Despite having quite a vast collection with cars from all eras, Jay doesn’t have as many hot rods as expected, knowing how deeply his passion for racing cars goes, until the arrival of the 1932 Bowtie Deuce Roadster in 2005, which as explained in his show, is more of a tribute to the original model. The car took its frame from a 1932 Chevy and its body from a Ford of the same year, all specifically commissioned by Jay to commemorate the 50 years of the Chevrolet small-block engine back then.
Jay’s Mercedes Benz
To date there are seven known Mercedes Benz stored in Jay Leno’s garage. Out of them, the most anti one is a 1921 Benz-Mercedes, though as Jay explains, it technically resembles a 1908 model of the same German manufacturer, which at the time had a different name.
Then we have the 1950 Mercedes Transporter, the fastest one of its class and built to transport cars to between Grand Prix in record time after fixing them in the factory instead of on the tracks. Then it comes the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300S Gullwing Coupe, which previously being bought by Jay, spent decades in a storage unit in the California desert, waiting for a good home. The car preserves its original paint, but most of its mechanical wartime parts need replacing.
Jay’s other of Mercedes-Benz models from 1971, ‘72 and the newest a 2010 SLR McLaren.
Jay’s “Tank Car”
Those who have watched “Jay Leno’s Garage” surely recognize his Tank Car from its many appearances on screen. What most people don’t know it’s that the car’s original name is the Blastolene Special, created in 2001 by Randy Grubb, who produced only one, nowadays owned by Jay Leno.
The uniqueness of the two-seat vehicle is notable, and so is its price – $125,000 in the 2000s. Since then he hasn’t shied away from taking it everywhere, and for a couple of years, the Tank Car was the only hot rod in his impressive collection.
All in all, it’s evident that Jay Leno is most-likely one of the most passionate car collectors in the world. However, more than just buying cars for show or luxury, the history behind every auto is one the things that Jay evidently loves the most, as well as taking them for a spin.