Jay Leno’s Garage: Gearhead Heaven

jay leno's garage

Having been a car enthusiast for most of my life and having worked in and out of the automotive business for over 15 years, you develop a talent for recognizing people who know their cars and those who don’t. Certainly there are several celebrities that seem to know their stuff like Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Tim Allen and many others. You can add Jay Leno to that group and if you love car stories, Jay Leno’s Garage is thoroughly entertaining stuff.

Jay Leno has been famous for years as a comedian and as the man that took over the hugely successful “The Tonight Show” from Johnny Carson, but to car buffs like myself, Jay is one of the most famous “gear-heads” on the planet. He started off his “automotive life” on motorcycles and as a struggling comic, he made the trip west from his home in Massachusetts to California in a 1955 Buick which doubled as his place of abode as well as his transportation. Once Jay finally got to the top of the ladder, he decided to build his perfect dream garage, a 17,000 square foot palace of automotive history, art, and real-life garage activity located somewhere in the Burbank area.

When Jay Leno’s Garage was built, his thought was never for it to be a museum even though some of the pieces in the shop are antiques and incredibly valuable. Almost everything runs and what sets Leno apart is that he likes to enjoy his collection, most importantly, out on the road. His collection comprises about 190 vehicles which takes a full maintenance crew to manage. His team is headed up by a Swiss ex-Jaguar mechanic, Bernard Juchli, who manages all of the restorations and maintains the facility. Leno has some legendary pieces of automotive culture such as a 1906 Baker electric car and a 1906 Stanley Steamer. Among those are scattered Duisenbergs, Corvettes, Porsches and a fully functional Tatra T87. There is also a simply enormous steam engine that used to belong to Thomas Edison which works, and Jay still has the 1955 Buick that brought him to California all those years ago.

With having so many vehicles, the shop is a hive of activity and the demand for parts, and specialty items is fierce so the garage is geared up to fabricate parts and do just about all required work in house. There is a CNC Mill, a water-jet cutter, sheet metal equipment, a lathe, a regular mill, and welding equipment from Tig and Mig to name but a few items. Leno’s love of food and cooking also prompted him to put in a fully stocked gourmet kitchen where he entertains his friends and colleagues with his style of cuisine.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Leno as an entertainer but his YouTube series called “Jay Leno’s Garage” is very compelling. He navigates a journey through the world of cars, trucks and motorcycles to give you a perspective that only a man on the street sees. He invites real enthusiasts and craftsmen onto the set to explain their work and Leno never shows the urge to show off or impress. He comes across as a proper “gear-head. Because of his visibility as a celebrity, he is able to attract all of the new Hypercars and their builders to his garage and they are more than eager to let him take a spin in these million dollar vehicles. Another facet I enjoy is that he isn’t fixated on the glamorous or the expensive – he is just as likely to invite a car lover who built a Datsun 510 from scratch as he is to invite in the Bugatti Veyron!

Jay Leno’s Garage is the type of place that any car buff would give his right hand to work at. I guess we have to be satisfied with just admiring the scenery!

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