Jay Leno was born in New Rochelle, NY, on April 28, 1950. While in college, Leno pursued a career as a stand-up comedian. By the time that he was 42, Leno would be the full-time host of The Tonight Show. Since then, Leno has become one of the most well-known talk show hosts of all time. Known for his killer jaw and affinity for motor vehicles, you won’t believe what the former TV personality has stowed away in his private collection!
Classy Ride For a Classic Car Lover
As one of the most iconic late-night talk show hosts of all time, Leno has made quite a name for himself. Despite his long-tenured career on television as a comedian, Leno is almost more famous for his love of automobiles. Ostensibly a classic car fanatic, Leno has a fleet of exotic, rare, and luxurious vehicles tallying a value of more than $12 million. We’ll get into the rest of Leno’s collection in a little bit, but first let’s talk about one of his favorite cars. We are, of course, referring to the 1955 300SL Gullwing Coupe Mercedes.
If you want to let your stomach drop, take a moment to consider that Leno’s 300SL is worth more than $2 million on its own. What’s more, the car represents only a small fraction of Leno’s overall automobile net worth. Speaking of automobile net worth, how cool is it to have so many cars that this is a legitimate metric? In any event, the 300SL has an equally rich history in the world of automobile mania as it will always be tied to John Fitch’s legendary victory at the 1955 Mille Miglia. Fitch drove what was essentially a stock 300SL in order to win the GT class of the race.
Leno has obviously had his 300SL entirely restored and, as a result, it is now worth a couple of million dollars. We don’t want to get wrapped up in the price tag of the vehicle, but we will just say that the 300SL is an extremely rare car that was limited to only 1,400 total production models. As an exotic and rare vehicle, the 300SL has the potential to rise in value over the coming years, a rarity for car collecting.
What we love most about Leno’s 300SL is that it is instantly recognizable no matter how much you know about cars. The elongated hood gives the 300SL a dramatic appearance and the side grilles remind you of something aquatic, such as a shark. The Mercedes star is slapped right in the middle of the front grille in order to finish the upscale look. The sleek body of the vehicle is definitely a high point of the product.
Inside of the Gullwing, Leno spared no expense in order to bring back the luxury of yesteryear. With red upholstered leather seats, it’s impossible not to imagine taking your significant other to the drive-through while jamming some Buddy Holly. The dashboard is a callback to the racing origins of the Gullwing as the aluminum trim panel is filled with large, easy-to-read gauges. With a classic aesthetic, Leno is able to glance from speedometer to tachometer without really taking his eyes off of the road.
The engine of the 300SL Gullwing Coupe is probably our favorite aspect of the vehicle. The 3L engine was built with a mechanical fuel injection by Bosch that pushes 215hp at almost 4,800 RPM. While this is relatively substandard compared to today’s high-end sports cars, these numbers were almost hard to believe back in the mid-50s. With a 4-speed manual transmission, the 300SL can go from zero to sixty in roughly 8.8 seconds before hitting the 130 MPH mark just a couple of seconds later.
Remember how we mentioned that the 300SL was a relatively rare car? Well, try this on for size. The alloy-body of the 300SL was limited to a production run of just 29 models. What does this mean? Well, Leno doesn’t even have the rarest model of his favorite car. Talk about exclusive!
Stunning $12 Million Car Collection
Jay Leno has always been candid about his affinity for nice cars. Never afraid to put money toward his passion, Leno has accrued a collection of private vehicles worth more than $12 million. Of course, we have to assume that Leno has many other vehicles kept out of the public spotlight and for his personal use only. Still, we want to walk you through his collection so that you can understand what it is like to live like one of the original kings of late night.
As you no doubt know by now, Leno has always been in love with classic cars. Perhaps due to the era that he grew up in, Leno probably spent a quarter of his car budget on pre-80s cars alone. Starting off on our tour is the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. This classic car has all of the hallmarks of a mid-60s sports car. With a hugely powerful engine and a sleek body, the Toronado is a love letter to the great muscle cars of yesteryear.
Alright, if you want to really get a grasp on Jay Leno’s affinity for high-end luxury cars, you’ll want to know about his 1994 McLaren F1. The McLaren F1 is probably Leno’s second favorite car, right behind his Gullwing. Priced at almost $12 million alone, the McLaren F1 is the trophy of Leno’s collection. McLaren only made 107 of these cars during the model’s short production run. We’re not sure that Leno ever takes this thing out on the road, but he sure loves to show it off during his interviews.