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Jay Leno's car collection: Automobile Late Night Show

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Jay Leno's car collection
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W if every beginning is difficult, this was it here especially. Because Jay Leno is not someone you just write to invite yourself to his garage. What is needed here is a plan that makes him curious. And brings us to his holy halls. Jay Leno is an institution: one of the great American talk show hosts by night, an ardent car fanatic by day. A guy with a fat house in Beverly Hills, a full schedule and a serene assistant.

'Jay likes the story'

Her name is Helga and she couldn't be reached for months. When she reads the request through a lucky coincidence, she becomes curious and writes back: 'I have no idea how to explain to Jay that you want to spend a night in his garage. We already had a lot of crazy requests ...' Then he fell silent Helga again for weeks and only reports back shortly before: 'All right, Jay likes the story!'

As the garage door of the hangar slowly lowers , the sun is just setting over Los Angeles. The security guard wishes you a good night, and then there will be peace in paradise. Heavenly silence in one of America's largest private car collections that few get to see. Over 150 very different models share a handful of warehouses here - they are Jay Leno's treasure chambers. A collector who is not looking for any vintages, brands, prototypes or fully restored models, as many in his salary class do.

Jay Leno looks at a car, listens to the story and then knows if he is would like to own it. He decides with his gut - and that is exactly what makes his collection unique. This explains why precious metals, some of which are worth millions, share the halls with, for example, an old fire engine, the largest hot rod in the world and a Buick Roadmaster. The fortunes of cars are worth much more to him than the models or their reputation themselves.

Fire brigade car with an eventful history

The light from the wall lamp covers the open fire service vehicle that was born in 1941 like a blanket. She served for many years in Pearl Harbor, then in film (Warner Brothers Studios) and most recently at a local airport. After the attacks of September 11th, the convertible could no longer be used for safety reasons. Leno heard about it and took it on.

The biggest hot rod in the world, which casts its shadow on the wall opposite, was about the dream of an artist who built it for years - the last of them with Jay Leno's support. Not only the dimensions of a school bus make the monster something special, but also its engine: It is a tank heart (M47 Patton) with a displacement of around 50 liters and original 810 hp. The latter seemed a little too little to Leno, so the injection system and charging were added, and now there are 1500 horses.

A little less power, but all the more memories Jay Leno associates with the 55 Buick Roadmaster, the one with the adorable bum and the big skinny steering wheel. It's Leno's first sled, which he bought here in California in 1972 for $ 350. At that time he did not welcome any stars and starlets in his talk show and had to hold back on his hobby accordingly.

The classic waited 16 years in the corner until its boss had the necessary change and the time for an extensive restoration. Among other things, there was a 620 hp V8, a Corvette chassis and handmade 17-inch wheels. The result speaks for itself.

There are no separations at Jay Leno

There are two other special features in Leno's empire: the fully equipped restoration workshop including paint shop and eight employees - including a Swabian . They not only feed the newcomers, but also maintain the existing fleet. Jay Leno changes his cars every day. At the moment he prefers to drive steam cars from 1900. The second specialty: There are no separations. Whatever it takes in this garage stays.

We see how many treasures these are now when one of the employees brings us a coffee the next morning and opens further halls. In disbelief we walk past a corner of colorful Lamborghini Miura to one of the first 65 Mustang Shelby with the original signature of Carroll Shelby on the dashboard. Several Bugatti relax opposite. In another hall there is a clique of steam cars ready for use - as are most of the automobiles here. Behind another gate, Duesenberg, old and newer Ferrari, an old SLS with a dream patina shine.

The furnishings of the halls are at least as impressive as the models - every corner was made to match the Vehicles decorated. Sometimes with a piano, sometimes with antiques from those days. And on the walls there are matching advertisements, which Leno's stage builders have copied from television in XXL. Great.

Jay Leno checks the rear suspension

When we were watching a NSU Prinz, a new Fiat 500 Abarth and the replica of the legendary Mercedes racing transporter (Blue Wonder) suddenly cracks a man with a broad grin and a white headan open Packard through the halls. He waves, carefully backs up and throws himself under the car because something rattled.

There is Jay Leno with jeans and denim shirt on the concrete floor of his garage, checking the rear suspension - as if he were do nothing else all day. It's hard to imagine that this man in a black suit will be joking on stage with Brad Pitt and Co. in a few hours. As he crawls out from under the car, he laughs blissfully and asks: 'How was the night?'

Leno's car polisher is a Swabian

Hard to believe: Jay Leno's car polisher comes from Dettingen near Bad Urach. Dirk Buck is the man's name and has been looking after the talkmaster's sweethearts for three years. 'I got this job by chance,' says the 42-year-old while he is polishing a white steam car from 1909. He now also restores and paints - he only learned all of this here from his Swedish colleague. Jay Leno's workshop team includes eight permanent employees.


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