Old School Americana & Nostalgia

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Jay Leno’s Car Collection: Inside the Veteran Comedian’s Garage

Jay Leno’s Car Collection: Inside the Veteran Comedian’s Garage

Jay Leno’s garage houses a car collection spanning decades, renowned as one of the world’s most famous private collections. A causal fan of his comedy or his time hosting The Tonight Show might find it surprising just how prolific of a gearhead Leno is.

Leno spent his early career performing stand-up comedy and caught the attention of Johnny Carson, America’s iconic talk show host. After filling in for Carson several times, Leno became the new host of The Tonight Show in 1992, propelling him to global stardom. He hosted the show from 1992 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2014. In 2014, he started hosting Jay Leno’s Garage, which was canceled in January 2023 after seven seasons on CNBC but can still be found on Leno’s YouTube channel.

Of course, these shows, alongside his stand-up engagements account for a reported net worth of $450 million. This accounts for Jay Leno’s car collection being valued at an estimated $53 million. Here are just a few gems from his estimated 180 vehicles (and 160 motorcycles).

1925 E-20 Doble

Leno is the proud owner of a collection of steam-powered vehicles, one of which gained notoriety for landing him in the hospital just last year. However, there is one that truly stands out among the rest.

Jay Leno has said the E-20 Doble is the greatest steam car ever made, and this one had a trailblazing owner. The E-20 was formerly owned by Howard Hughes, making it a very impressive car in Jay Leno’s collection.

1934 Duesenberg Walker Coupe

The 1934 Duesenberg Walker Coupe is often regarded as the pinnacle of Jay Leno’s car collection. Notably, it is the most expensive Duesenberg ever made.

This Walker Coupe was specifically designed for Josiah Lilly, the president of Lilly Pharmaceutical. However, Lilly didn’t care for the car.

From that point on, the car embarked on a rather thrilling journey. It found a new owner in the form of a politician’s mistress, who eventually passed it along to a gas station proprietor. The gas station owner cleverly repurposed the straight-eight engine for towing tasks. The car was well-suited for the job, weighing over 6,000 pounds and equipped with an eight-cylinder engine that generated an impressive 265 horsepower.

This car is estimated to be the most expensive in Jay Leno’s car collection, valued between $20 million-$30 million, although the exact figure is unknown.

1963 Chrysler Turbine Ultimate Edition

Reportedly, there are currently only two operational 63′ Chrysler Turbine models remaining in private possession, with one being owned by none other than Jay Leno.

The Chrysler Turbine has an intriguing connection to WWII. In the 1930s, Chrysler initiated research on turbine engines for aircraft, but unfortunately, the efforts did not materialize. However, after the war, the company found itself in possession of this remarkable, proprietary technology with no immediate application. Determined not to let it go to waste, Chrysler embarked on a venture to explore the possibility of using a turbine to power a car. The results were astonishingly successful, leading to the production of 55 turbine-powered vehicles by Chrysler.

Powering a car with a turbine engine isn’t as silly as it sounds. A turbine engine lasts longer and has fewer moving parts compared to a combustion engine. However, the high cost of parts led to the discontinuation of the Chrysler Turbine in 1964.

1967 Lamborghini Miura P400

The Last Stop in Jay Leno’s Car Collection… His 1970 Mazda Cosmo 110S

The Cosmo marked Mazda’s pioneering venture into rotary engine technology, making it the first production vehicle to be equipped with this groundbreaking innovation. Although Mercedes also briefly experimented with the Wankel engine, originally invented in 1924, Mazda has become synonymous with its mastery and advancement in this realm.

The 110S had a sub-liter two-rotor engine that generated 110 hp, giving it its name. Leno owns the Series II model, which had a slightly more powerful 128 hp version of the motor.

Leno’s Cosmo is rumored to be the sole model in the USA, although it deviates from the stock version. Rather than adhering to the original engine, Leno opted for the 12A twin-rotor sourced from the first-generation Mazda RX-7.