Jay Leno is known as the man who succeeded Johnny Carson in “The Tonight Show,” the man who beat out David Letterman for the job, the man who took away what he gave to Conan O’Brien in just a matter of months. He is also known to have one of the greatest collections of cars in the world. He has it all, from the classics and the one-offs to the contemporaries and super cars and sports cars. His collection is so massive that one can probably make a top 10 list for every car type and genre. He even has lemons in his collection, including a Chevrolet Vega and the Russian-made GAZ Volga.
Here is a list of the top 10 cars from Jay Leno’s collection that he keeps in his Big Dog Garage.
1. 1906 Stanley Steamer
Cars were run by steam power during the early part of the 1900s. About a hundred companies built this kind of car back then. Getting the car started is a laborious process because it can take as much as 30 minutes for the engine to be ready. If the car catches fire, the manual recommends speeding it up to extinguish the flames. And Leno did just that once. He has the distinction of driving the oldest car that got stopped for speeding when this 1906 wooden classic was pulled over for doing 76 on a freeway.
2. 1937 Fiat Topolino
This car is famed for its amazing fuel mileage. It can actually travel up to 40 miles for every gallon of fuel. This is a good thing because the car can only take in five gallons because of its small tank. Imagine getting to Pennsylvania from New York using up only five gallons in all. Do allot some time for your travel however; the Fiat Topolino can only reach a top speed of 53 miles per hour.
3. 1955 Buick Roadmaster
Leno bought this car for a mere $350 back in 1972 when he was not a popular celebrity yet. Those struggling days meant he practically made this car his home. He not only used it to get to work and to go out on dates (he met his wife while he was driving this car regularly), he also actually slept and ate inside it. It has got too much history on both automobile and personal perspectives. He never will have the heart to sell it off, so he decided to spruce it up instead. The chassis exterior is still the stock classic, but he modified under the hood with a big block Chevy engine that boosted the capacity by 600 capacity compared to the original engine. He also installed a Corvette suspension and customized the wheels as well.
4. 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
The Mercedes 300SL is an iconic car known for its gullwing doors. Leno’s version is not geared for car shows as he eschewed a splashy paint job in order to retain the charm of the old vehicle. The car’s engine and under chassis are, of course, a different story. Leno made sure to have what’s under the hood restored to perfect condition to ensure its drivability.
5. 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
It was one of the first cars built in the United States since the 1930s with a front wheel drive. Before its introduction in 1966, the 1937 Cord was the last front-wheel drive car. It was based on the E-body platform shared with the Buick Riviera and the Cadillac Eldorado. Leno, however, modified the car and converted it to a rear-wheel drive. He also put in a modified engine capable of going at over 1,000 horsepower, which is around three times more powerful than the original engine.
6. 1986 Lamborghini Countach
Designed by Marcello Gandini, the famed Italian who also did the Lamborghini Miura, the Lamborghini Countach was the futuristic looking car back in the 1980s that every teenage boy wanted to have. It is one of Leno’s favorite vehicles and he uses it as a daily car. His Countach has around 70,000 miles on it.
7. 1994 McLaren F1
It has a top speed of 243 miles per hour, making it the fastest car in the world until the Bugatti Veyron was introduced 11 years later. Gordon Murray, the same man responsible for the McLaren vehicles in Formula 1 competition, designed it. Real gold lines the engine bay of the car because it is the best reflector of heat.
8. 2006 EcoJet
The EcoJet was a mere design study that was featured in the Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA, show in 2006. General Motors presented it as it attempted to create an environmentally friendly car that could go fast. Leno collaborated with GM to help the car evolve from a study to create an actual functional vehicle. Using a gas turbine in lieu of the standard engine, the EcoJet runs by using bio-diesel. A motorcycle that followed a similar jet design was also made.
9. 2007 Ariel Atom
The Ariel Atom is the ideal car for the racetrack. It is extremely light at less than 1,400 pounds. Combine it with an Ecotec motor engine built by GM that can put up almost 300 horsepower and you have an extremely fast vehicle that features quick acceleration. The car is made in Britain and now has an updated 500-horsepower V8 engine. Not sure if Leno plans to own this latest version as well.
10. Blastolene Special
Have you ever played the Gran Turismo video game? You might have noticed in the game the presence of a Tank Car. This is actually the Blastolene Special from Leno’s garage. It is a one-off vehicle built by the Blastolene Brothers. An engine from the M47 Patton Tank powers the vehicle. It was not street legal at first, but Leno made subtle changes to make it permissible on the road even as it retained its concept. He also added more power to it by having it turbocharged.