Jay Leno is one of the most prolific comedians in Hollywood history. But he’s also one of the most prolific car collectors in the world as well. His car collection spans everything from the ultra-rare Chrysler Turbine car to the everyday Pontiac Firebird Pace Car. Leno isn’t afraid to tell you when a car is downright awful and he isn’t afraid to praise one either. Take the AMC Pacer for instance.
The remarkable thing about Leno is that he appreciates every car. His collection ranges from the most simplistic rides to the most advanced sports cars in the world. Having the type of reputation Leno has in the automotive community, Leno’s word goes a long way. And he doesn’t always use it to praise only top-of-the-line vehicles. We took a look at Jay Leno’s ordinary rides that he enjoys driving as much as the most expensive exotics.
20: 2002 Pontiac Firebird WS6
Leno has owned his 2002 Pontiac Firebird WS6 since it was brand new. He tells the story of receiving the car as a gift from General Motors in exchange for some promotional work. The fourth-generation Pontiac Firebird was the ‘everyman’s car’ drivers loved. Simplistic styling and a powerful Corvette-derived LS2 engine make this ride a pleasure to drive (via Hagerty).
The beauty of the 2002 Pontiac Firebird WS6 is that it had a timeless styling. The Firebird was also one of the last sports cars with pop-up headlights. These features coupled with the bulletproof Corvette motor make the WS6 a winner. Few cars are as iconic in the muscle car segment as the Firebird.
The 1971 Porsche 911 T is perhaps one of the most underrated Porsche models. Leno purchased his 911 T from the original owner whom he tracked down after the car sat in a parking garage. Leno has put a decent amount of work into the car to keep it as close to its original condition as possible (via Motor Biscuit).
You won’t get any extreme modifications done to this Porsche, even the paint is still kept in the original shade of “Sepia Brown.” The 911 T was not the top of the Porsche lineup, but its performance was spirited, to say the least. In Leno’s entire collection, this 911 T is one of the most pristine originals.
Leno has more than a few ordinary rides he actually enjoys driving. He told the story of receiving his 1999 Corvette as a demonstrator model from GM. Leno preferred to be paid in product rather than money, and a clean, dark blue C5 Corvette was more than adequate. The C5 for all intents and purposes is one of the best bargains in the sports car arena (via Corvette Story).
The Corvette has some of the most iconic brand recognition in the automotive industry. When you think about a unique model, the C5 is at the top of the list. The LS1 engine is bulletproof when it comes to reliability, and there are many aftermarket upgrades for the C5 Corvette.
The Chevrolet Corvair has one of the worst reputations of any classic car. It was a revolutionary car but also one of the most controversial. The Corvair was the inspiration for the best-selling book by Ralph Nader titled, “Unsafe At Any Speed.” With the swing axle design, the Corvair was a new type of sports car to drive (via Motor Authority).
It was also the first American car with an independent suspension all the way around. Considering the car was released in 1966, there was substantial technological advancement. To this day, the Corvair still suffers from a tough reputation, but Leno still enjoyds this classic car that was once a prominent piece of the American auto industry.
Another down-to earth sports car Leno owns is the ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Firebird. Made famous by the classic Burt Reynolds movie, this is the quintessential Firebird to own. The iconic paint scheme with the flaming chicken on the hood was synonymous with Pontiac. Performance-wise, the 1979 Trans Am was at the top of the food chain (via Motor Trend).
The rocker hood and the 6.6 engine were powerhouses compared to the competition. GM sought to differentiate the Trans Am brand from the Camaro, and they did so in every imaginable way. Even though the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am was based on the Camaro, it had its own unique personality and appeal.
The 1972 CitroÃ«n SM is a futuristic French sports coupe offered in the 1970s. Leno has owned his example for 35 years and is the second owner. The styling of the CitroÃ«n SM is perhaps the most striking thing about this car. Take one look at the front fascia and headlights, and you know you’re in for something unique (via Motor Trend).
This car was the first car with rain-sensing windshield wipers in addition to the lack of a brake pedal. Instead, there is a mushroom that you’ll apply pressure to to slow the car down. In every possible way, the CitroÃ«n SM is one of the most unique and underrated luxury coupes around.
The Porsche Boxster was released in 1996 to much fanfare and praise. The mid-engined design was a new concept for a sports car in this class. Leno reminisced about observing the original concept at the 1993 Detroit Auto Show and falling in love with it. The Boxster is by far one of the most unique Porsche models to come out (via Top Gear).
Production of the Boxster was above 400,000 for the original model, an impressive feat. When it came to getting an affordable Porsche, the Boxster was the way to do it. Porsche designed a car that would appeal to a new generation of enthusiasts. In many ways, the Boxster was the first “modern” Porsche model.
The Viper was one of the most attractive sports cars to come out of the early 1990s. Leno owns two Viper models, and his 1996 Dodge Viper GTS is the most prized. Sporting a beautiful blue paint job with silver stripes, this GTS is a beautiful and unique model. Bob Lutz personally called Leno to give him one of the first models to come off the production line (via Motor Authority).
The 1996 Dodge Viper GTS was also the first year for onboard diagnostics, also known as OBD. In many ways, the Viper is a stripped-down car, but when it comes to performance, that’s quite alright. Leno has kept his 1996 Dodge Viper GTS in impeccable shape, and it’s a car that he still enjoys driving today.
If there is one car Leno loves the most, it’s the Corvette. He owns several Corvette models, and one of his most prized possessions is the 2006 Pratt & Miller Corvette. Pratt & Miller was the racing arm of General Motors, and the C6 Corvette was the perfect platform to build a supercar (via The Drive).
The 2006 Pratt & Miller Corvette has many unique features, such as a more luxurious interior and a carbon-fiber body. This variation of the Corvette is based on the Z06 model with a separate engine. Boasting 8.0 liters of power, the 2006 Pratt & Miller Corvette is one of the most powerful and unique Corvette models around.
The original Viper was a groundbreaking halo car pioneered by Bob Lutz. He enjoys driving more than anything else, and thus was a pioneer in designing enthusiast cars. Leno has owned his 1993 Viper since it was brand new. He washes it once a year and has kept very low mileage (via Car and Driver).
The 1993 Viper is about as barebones of a sports car as you can get. There is no air conditioning, no ABS, and no onboard computer. The original 1993 Dodge Viper is a street-legal race car with a 400 HP V10 engine. With a high price tag at the time, the Viper wasn’t a cheap toy to buy either.
Perhaps one of the most unique vehicles in Leno’s collection, this Shelby GT500 Powered 1968 Ford Bronco breaks all the rules. This particular Bronco was given to Leno by fellow comedian Craig Ferguson on his last day of the Tonight Show. Ferguson hadn’t done anything to it (via Motor Authority).
Leno partnered with the Ford Special Vehicles Team to create a monster vehicle. Cramming a Shelby GT500 engine into the Bronco was the first order of business. A custom paint job and interior were the next thing that needed to be done. From the outside, the 1968 Bronco looks like your average restored SUV, but in reality, it’s a monster.
The 1961 Corvair Rampside is perhaps one of the most unique and controversial car models ever built. Leno has a Corvair Yenko Coupe and a Corvair Pickup truck, both of which shared the nameplate. Leno purchased his Corvair Rampside for $600 14 years ago and proceeded to do a full restoration (via Motor Authority).
The current truck is a two-tone red paint job with an all-original engine and interior. Leno is particular about not washing his cars, so the paint job has stayed almost perfect. The effect of the Corvair Rampside is both comical and seemingly usual for the 1960s. Leno has many extravagant cars, but the 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside might be the most unique.
If you know about Chrysler, then you know that the Imperial is the top of the mountain. This was the top-of-the-line luxury car Chrysler sold in the 1950s. The Imperial was so important to Chrysler that it was marketed as a particular brand. Imperial would compete against the likes of Lincoln and Cadillac for large sedan dominance (via Hagerty).
The 1957 Imperial had a completely electronic transmission that you’d shift by pressing a different button. Another first was the Imperial used a switch for the turn signals instead of a stalk on the steering wheel. It was these unique features that made the Imperial one of the most luxurious and monumental cars on the road.
The 1961 Chrysler 300G was known as “The Bankers Hot Rod” and there is a good reason for that. Crammed under the hood is one of the most powerful Hemi engines of all time. Long before the likes of the GTO and other muscle cars, there was the 1961 Chrysler 300G. If the 300 naming seems familiar, it’s because Chrysler has adopted that philosophy to the present day (via Classic Cars).
Leno hasn’t done a lot to his 300G other than swapping out the exhaust for a cast iron setup. The black paint and original chrome all look beautiful, even by today’s standards. There is no denying that the Chrysler 300G is perhaps one of the most iconic cars in the Chrysler heritage. The principal styling and over-the-top performance were a solid foundation for the brand.
Leno has a massive car collection, one of the largest in the country. His taste in vehicles ranges from the Dodge Viper to this 1958 Continental Mark III. This massive example of a Lincoln is the reason why cars from that era were dubbed “land yachts.” Leno is the third owner of this 1958 Continental Mark III. He purchased the car in Anaheim, California (via Hagerty).
1958 was also the first year for FM radio in automobiles, and the FM tuner was connected to the outside of the transmission. The 1958 Continental Mark III was the most powerful luxury car you could buy that year. Lincoln has since fallen off its perch in the luxury car segment, but the Continental will still go down in history.
Leno and Jerry Seinfeld have a few things in common. They are both comedians and both own a few Porsches. Unlike Seinfeld, who has a massive collection of Porsches, Leno only owns a few. But one Porsche he owns is the 1988 Porsche 959 in a beautiful red color. The 1988 Porsche 959 is known as sports car royalty, and there’s a good reason for that (via Car and Driver).
The performance of the turbocharged engine is still iconic to this day. The styling of the 959 was the first real departure from the traditional Porsche styling. Everything about the car was modern and well-appointed at a time when the segment was evolving. Leno has managed to keep his collection in excellent standing with this beautiful 1988 Porsche 959.
The Corvette is by far one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. If there is one brand that GM can always return to, it’s Corvette. Leno purchased this car from the original owner who had ordered the car brand new when he was a G.I. in the Army. The styling of the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette was in line with the GM dream cars of the same era (via GM Authority).
The performance was top of the line, as this was the first year the brand was serious about racing. The four-speed transmission was a brand new option for the Corvette. The only car that could compete with the Corvette was the Cobra, which came later on. Leno has managed to keep his 1957 Chevrolet Corvette in pristine condition.
Long before GM had adapted the product name of “Suburban,” Plymouth sold one. The 1950 Plymouth Suburban was a unique car designed for the “everyman.” The inline-6 was a fairly common engine that was superbly reliable. Just about anyone could work on the 1950 Plymouth Suburban without a mechanic (via Hemmings).
Innovative features like a fold-flat rear seat were far ahead of their time. The fact that the 1950 Plymouth Suburban is a two-door was also unique. Leno purchased this Plymouth from the original owner, Leonard Kolodziejski, who passed away in 2016. The car was kept in immaculate condition and is a true testament to the quality that Plymouth once was.
There was a time when the Pontiac brand was the focal point of the youth movement. The GTO was as much an automotive icon as the Mustang and the Chevelle. Designed by legendary automotive engineer John Delorean, the GTO was a massive success. Selling the thousands in its first year, the GTO broke almost every sales record imaginable (via Motorious).
Pontiac also got a nice bump in publicity when Car and Driver put the 1964 Pontiac GTO up against the Ferrari GTO and it won. Marketing in the 1960s was a lot different than it is today, and the GTO was a success in just about every way. Leno has taken pride in his GTO model and continues to be a Pontiac aficionado.
No, this isn’t a Ford Festiva you are looking at, it’s the Ford Shogun. This is a Ford Festiva with a Ford Taurus SHO engine crammed into the backseat. The lightweight design and extreme performance gave the car some of the most awe-inspiring driving characteristics ever (via Drive Tribe).
But not to be outdone, Leno added Nitrous to the setup as well. Other than adding the NOS, most of the car is all factory. There is still a factory tape player and the paint is still in the same condition as when he purchased the car in 1989. You might think this is just an everyday hatchback, but in Leno’s case, you’d be very wrong. It’s interesting to observe that Leno has such a diverse selection of cars including this Shogun.