Jay Leno’s Garage Gives Some Love to the 1966 Lotus (Ford) Cortina
The Lotus Cortina, or Ford Cortina Lotus as it has also become known, is the street-going version of the Group 2 touring car that became one of the most famous and successful models of its kind in the ’60s, routinely hitting above its weight and beating Mustangs, Falcons and even the odd Ford Galaxie in the British Saloon Car Championship, the European Touring Car Championship and beyond. Originally, only 1,000 Cortinas were built to meet homologation needs, and the car in the video is a genuine one.
The original Lotus Cortina, based on the Mark 1 Consul Cortina, was launched in 1963 and received comprehensive modifications by Lotus with its beating heart being a 1.5-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine designed by Harry Mundy. The example shown in this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage has been painstakingly restored to better-than-new condition by Jim Hall, Leno’s chief fabricator, after spending three decades neglected at the mercy of the elements.
Denim Meets the 2018 Touring Superleggera on Jay Leno’s Garage: Video
The Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera name traces its roots back to 1925 when the coachbuilding company was founded. Over the years it’s been instrumental in designing many vehicles that we now consider timeless classics (the Lamborghini 350 and 400 GT, Aston Martin DB5, and Maserati 3500 GT, among others). The company closed its doors in 1966, but the trademark was acquired in 2006 by new owners that, ultimately, tried to pick up where the brand left off all those decades ago.
Video: Jay Leno Drives a 1978 Hongqi CA770
Jay Leno gets to drive some pretty unusual cars, and this massive Chinese limo is definitely up there with the strangest ones. It’s a 1978 Hongqi CA770, definitely a very intriguing car for any westerner primarily because very few are left, and most of the ones that did remain in Asia - chances are you’ll never see one outside of a museum.
Jay Leno’s Garage: Taking the Superformance Corvette Grand Sports for a Spin
Superformance has been creating new versions of legendary cars since 1996. Some of their creations include the Shelby Cobra, Ford GT40, Caterham, and Daytona Coupe, among others. Recently, they recreated a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, which is perhaps one of their best creations to date, and Jay Leno took it out for a spin!
Jay Leno Meets a Plymouth Superbird: Video
A 1970 Plymouth Superbird is considered a unicorn by today’s standards. What most people don’t know is that this outrageous machine wasn’t a hot pancake back in the day. Dealers struggled to sell them because of how they looked and some even resorted to removing the nose and wing to make them look like a typical Plymouth Road Runner. But the Superbird now holds a special place in the hearts of muscle car collectors, including comedian Jeff Dunham, who happens to own one of just 58 Superbirds with a HEMI engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Of course, a car of this stature, with a celebrity owner to boot, found its way to Jay Leno’s Garage.
Jay Leno Takes A Spin In A Ferrari F40: Video
Jay Leno is certainly no stranger to supercars. Diagnosed as an incurable car fanatic, the former Tonight Show host has taken the wheel of some of the fastest machinery on the planet. But few cars in the world can match the pure, unbridled electricity of this – the Ferrari F40.
Constructed from carbon fiber and aluminum, the F40 is powered by a rear/mid-engine V-8 boosted by two turbos. Output is rated at 470 horsepower, all of which is sent to the rear wheels by way of a five-speed manual transmission and topped by a classic gated shifter.
Top speed is capped at 200 mph, making the F40 the first road-legal production car capable of breaking that magic supercar benchmark.
Jay starts this 27-minute video with an appropriate introduction.
“This was the last car blessed by Enzo Ferrari,” he says. “Enzo got a little, uh, testy during the ‘80s. Customers complained that Ferrari’s are getting kinda soft and too comfortable, and he wanted to build a machine that was just an out-and-out racing car for the street.”
After the usual examination in the garage, Leno and the car’s owner hit the road to feel the boost firsthand, even taking the F40 out on some twisty two-lanes.
Seeing this legendary car making the rounds is a real delight, and the video is jam-packed with interesting info for the uninitiated. It’s a bit on the long side, but if you bleed Ferrari red, it’s worth a watch.
Jeff Dunham Brings His AMC Gremlins To Jay Leno’s Garage: Video
Jay Leno and Jeff Dunham are both comedians, but that’s not the only similarity between the two. Like Leno, Dunham is also a car collector, albeit one who prefers cars that don’t qualify as classics in Leno’s world, or at least in the traditional way the word is used. That was evident when Dunham bought a pair of AMC Gremlins to Jay’s shop in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
Some of you are forgiven for not knowing what the AMC Gremlin is. Odd choice of a name notwithstanding, the Gremlin actually had a good run in the 70’s as a subcompact car. It also had a share of different engines, none more impressive than a 401-cubic-inch V-8 that made it one of the fastest cars available for the money that it sold for. All in all, the AMC Gremlin lasted from 1970 to 1978, selling a total of 671,475 units over its lifetime, a fact that may have been lost to those who have since dismissed the car as nothing more than an automotive statistic.
Dunham isn’t one of those people and he proudly lets Leno know how he stands his ground in the midst of the onslaught of ribbing he has to endure from his peers. It’s a highly entertaining episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, one that I recommend you watch to get a good idea of the AMC Gremlin and why Dunham swears by them. And if for nothing else, you get to watch two comedians in their element, exchange hilarious comments towards each other and in Leno’s case, towards the Gremlin.
Don’t Believe Everything You See On TV; Jay Leno Was Far From Death: Video
If you’re a fan of Jay Leno’s Garage, then you’ve seen the videos of the ridiculous crash he was involved in when he and stunt driver, Bob Riggle, put 2,500 ponies to the pavement. The run takes off as one would expect – front wheels in the air and the soul-filled scream of insane power. However, once Riggle lets of the gas and the front end comes back from low-earth orbit, he proceeds to crank the wheel a little too much, and the car goes into a barrel roll that looks absolutely disastrous.
It was disastrous, right? I mean the video shows the car rolling like three or four times. Meanwhile, Leno and Riggle are tossed around the cabin pretty well as their life surely flashes before their eyes. There has been numerous article posted all over this great internet of ours that say things like “Jay Leno almost dies in huge car accident,” or “Jay Leno shook after a near-death experience with stunt man.” For those of you who haven’t seen the video that was shown on TV, you can see it here.
For those of you who have already seen it, let me shed some light on just how far production companies will go to make sure you come back for the next show. The video that you either saw on TV or the internet’s various media outlets was actually highly edited and was a big enough lie that I’m guessing there just might be a political connection in there somewhere. Okay not really, don’t lose you your head, I promise Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with it, but it is pretty sketchy. So, go ahead and hit the play button if you want to check out the real video of the crash before Hollywood’s finest took to editing the clip.
Recently Restored 1969 Ford Mustang 429 Boss Gets Jay Leno’s Attention: Video
Jay Leno has seen a lot of cars in his life as a passionate auto collector and, by now, it takes a special kind of car to get his attention. It just so happens that a beautifully restored 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429, a classic Mustang if there ever was one - fits that “special kind of car” description.
Recently, the comedian and world famous auto collector hosted this particular Mustang boss 429 in an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Leno also invited Marcus Anghel of Anghel Restorations to talk in detail about the process of restoring this car back to opulence after being purchased for just $4,934.76. A lot of work was put into the restoration of the car, which eventually received a new front fascia, front spoiler, a very noticeable hood scoop, modified fenders, and all the way down to period-correct boss 429 badging and smog pump. Under its hood, the Mustang also got Ford’s massive 7.0-liter 429 V-8 engine that produces 375 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, numbers that Anghel says were conservative because of Ford’s decision to detune them for road use since the engine was initially used for racing purposes, specifically in NASCAR.
Today, this Mustang Boss 429 is about as unique as any classic Mustang in the road. For those who don’t know, Ford only built 1,358 examples of the Boss 429, making it one of the rarest and most sought-after Mustangs in history.
And, as you can expect from Leno, he managed to spend some time behind the wheel of the Mustang Boss 429, an occurrence that shows the kind of cache that Jay Leno has as a car collector.
Jay Leno Takes Us On A 360-Degree Drive With A 1954 Jaguar XK120
Riding shotgun in a 1954 Jaguar XK120 with Jay Leno driving is nearly impossible to do if you don’t know the comedian and famous auto collector. But thanks to 360-degree video technology, you don’t have to be in the actual car to experience the thrill of doing so. Granted, it’s still better to sit in it, but we’ll take what we can get.
The video runs close to four minutes long and in that space of time, Leno goes into story-telling mode as he recounts the history behind his XK120 and how he’s had it since 1984. He also talks about the modifications he’s made to the car, including replacing the original 3.0-liter engine with a 4.2-liter that produces “about 250 horsepower.” Other than that, this XK120 is completely stock.
Once you’ve spent time listening to Leno’s stories, you can go back to the start of the video like I did and just spend it playing around with the 360-degree controls on the top-left part of the YouTube screen. Trust me, it’s fun just whirling around the car to see Leno talking directly to you and the incredible scenery around him. And if you want extra effects, point a fan directly to your face to simulate the rush of air blowing your hair in all directions. I may or may not have done that myself.
Go check the video out!
Jay Leno Introduces Us To The 1931 Shotwell: Video
You’d be excused if you clicked to watch this video of Jay Leno’s Garage and wondered to yourself what a Shotwell is. Well, you’re not the only one. I raised an eyebrow too because I had never heard of an automaker named Shotwell, let alone seen a car that looked like this. My confusion was confirmed when I went and watched the episode as Leno explains the history behind the peculiar three-wheeler. Turns out, this 1931 Shotwell is a complete one-off. It was built way back in 1931 by a then 17-year-old named Bob Shotwell.
According to Leno’s story, Shotwell built the car on his father’s suggestion that if he wanted a car for himself, he needed to go build one. I’m sure a lot of other fathers have made that “suggestion” over the years, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a son who actually took dad’s advice and built their own car. But that’s exactly what Shotwell did and to his credit, he did an incredible job at it considering that this was in 1931. Yep, that was 85 years ago. Shotwell even created a design that was definitely ahead of its time, using a three-wheeler configuration that even to this day, isn’t considered a traditional setup for a car. He even decided to use a 77-cubic-inch Indian motorcycle engine that, if anything, proved to be a reliable source of power for his creation. If those details aren’t impressive enough, this one definitely is. Shuttle apparently drove the car for more than 150,000 miles. 150,000! He even used it on a 6,000-mile round-trip journey to the Northwestern part of the U.S. That’s just incredible.
Sadly, Shotwell’s ownership of his pride and joy ended in 1999 when he decided that the car needed a new owner that would give it the love and affection he showed it in all the years that he used it. By our count, Shotwell was 85 years old when he let go of his three-wheeler and he even had a specific person in mind on who he wanted to pass the car to on the condition that it wouldn’t be destroyed: Jay Leno. True to his word, Leno not only kept the car safe, but he also worked on it to make sure that the car would still be able to run properly.
Leno took it out for a spin in the latter part of the episode, and while it ran pretty well for the most part, it did have a small episode that could be expected for a car like this. Still, none of this takes away from how impressed we are that Jay Shotwell managed to build this car 85 years ago and had it with him until he was 85 years old. That in itself is a story to last a lifetime.
Jay Leno Proudly Shows Off His Lamborghini Espada: Video
Jay Leno’s Garage has had a string of interesting episodes recently as the noted celebrity and car enthusiast has brought in some interesting cars from all over the place to his garage. This time around, the popular automotive web series is devoid of any guest appearances because the car taking center stage – the Lamborghini Espada – is one that’s owned by Leno himself.
By and large, the Espada has remained as one of Lamborghini’s most evocative works. Leno himself admitted this when he said that it’s one of those cars that people either loved or hated. There was very little, if any, middle ground to people’s affections for the grand tourer. But even if it did earn a polarizing reputation, the Espada was still one of the most successful models Lamborghini has ever created with more than 1,200 units being made. It took the Lamborghini Countach, which to this day is credited as Lamborghini’s first real supercar, to surpass that total, a fact that wasn’t lost on Leno.
His Espada, in particular, has a unique history of its own. The comedian even recounted the time when he bought the car in 1986, choosing it over a “mid-sixties Ferrari 330 GTC,” a car that’s worth millions of dollars today. You could tell that a part of Leno regretted picking the Espada over the 330 GTC, but for the most part, he still considers this Lamborghini as one of the most important cars of his collection. It’s undergone a few restorations in its lifetime, most recently a full cosmetic restoration that has led to the car looking about as brand-new as a brand new Espada could look.
There are plenty of notable tidbits throughout this episode about the car and Leno’s experience driving it throughout the years. But because this particular episode is so interesting, it’s better if we leave the details and the stories to the comedian himself.
1962 CHP Dodge Polara Stops By Jay Leno’s Garage: Video
The past few episode of Jay Leno’s Garage have featured some pretty interesting cars that aren’t really of the norm as far as classics are concerned. There was the heavily tuned 1976 Ford Fairline. There was the incredible Ford Festiva-based Shogun pocket rocket. There was the 1978 Hongqi CA770, a car even Leno didn’t think existed until he saw it in person. And of course, there was the custom-built 1915 LaBestioni Rusty Two. By comparison, the latest car to make the trip to the garage is a lot more mainstream than the previous guests, but it’s still pretty exotic in the same vein as the others. This is the 1961 California Highway Patrol Dodge Polara.
Most people might recognize the car for its various depictions in period Hollywood films of that era, but the uniqueness of this particular CHP Polara is without peer. One of Leno’s guests for this episode is Morgan Yates, the corporate archivist of the Automotive Club of Southern California, and he basically told Jay that this particular CHP Polara is just one of two units that have been restored back to its pristine glory. That’s important because despite the number of Polaras the CHP ordered in 1961 – 1,200 total – the cars never spent a moment outside of the sun. They were beat up and driven to the ground to serve their purpose. Now, only two remain and this is one of them.
Soon after his discussion with Yates, Leno introduced Dave Skaien, the man responsible for the restoration of this particular CHP Polara. The two talk about the technical side of the CHP Polara at length, but the biggest takeaway in my mind was the collaborative effort that went into restoring the car to look good as new. As Leno pointed out, a restoration like this doesn’t come cheap and Skaien himself admitted that a lot of people contributed in the restoration, including one man who couldn’t be bothered to part with his Jones Motorola round speedometer for any amount of money until he made it available for the restoration of this CHP Dodge Polara.
The episode goes on at length about the car and it’s a fascinating story considering how it came to be, how it got used, and where most of it ended up. And as always, Leno gets the treat of driving the car at the tail end of the episode. At the very least, that part’s always worth checking out.
Jay Leno Makes Guest Appearance On The Simpsons: Video
Jay Leno’s love for cars is very much well-publicized. In fact, a case can be made of him being the world’s most famous celebrity car enthusiast, a title that turned out to be pretty useful for Leno when he was invited to appear in an episode of The Simpsons.
Okay, Leno himself didn’t exactly appear in the episode but he did lend his voice to his yellow-skinned, Simpsonized counterpart, who appeared dressed in his usual denim-on-demin attire. The episode has already aired in the U.S., but for those who missed it, Leno’s role in the show tugged into his obsession for cars as he drives up on a Morgan Three Wheeler owned by Homer Simpson. Once he sees the car, Leno gets out of his 1973 Citroen DS Pallas, rings the bell of the Simpsons’ home and immediately offers to buy the Three Wheeler from the bathrobe-wearing Simpsons patriarch.
I’m not going to spoil anything that the video doesn’t show, but it does slip out a scene of Homer holding a wad of cash as he watches his Three Wheeler get shipped off to Leno’s “secret underground car depository.”
To his credit, Leno nailed the voice-over work in the episode, although it might have something to do with his character being, well, himself. At the very least, it’s a much smoother work than his past dabbles into voice-over work. Does anybody remember him as Fast Tony, the fast-talking armadillo from Ice Age: Meltdown who peddled anything he could find?
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
Jay Leno Meets A Heavily Tuned Ford Fairlane: Video
The 1967 Ford Fairlane is probably not the car you’d imagine to get invited toJay Leno’s garage. But nothing about this particular Fairlane counts as ordinary. It’s the creation of Stephen Stroppe and his team over at Pure Vision Design and it bears the name Black Ops, shiny blue paint finish notwithstanding.
The created history behind this Fairlane is as colorful as its two-tone body color. According to Stroppe, it started of as an ordinary Fairlane that wasn’t different from any of the other mid-sized sedans that also used the name. But along the process of actually building it, Stroppe and his team concocted a story that eventually served as the backbone of the whole build. From there, they started working on the car, going so far as to source parts from period-correct cars, including the Mercury Cougar and fellow Ford alums of that time, the Mustang and the Shelby Cobra.
Eventually, the team managed to create a rollicking ride on four wheels. It has a 427 engine that can produce 650 horsepower, although that figure appears to be on the conservative side of the estimate as Leno himself notices during the customary test drive in the tail end of the episode. It’s an interesting car to say the least. It’s also a good example of what happens when you have good storytellers who also happen to be good at building custom cars to fit their personalities.
Jay Leno Dusts Off His Ford Festiva-Based Shogun Hot Hatch: Video
For someone who literally has a treasure trove of classic and exotic cars sitting in his garage, Jay Leno seems to have quite the soft sport for his Ford Festiva-based Shogun hatchback. Make no mistake about it though, the Shogun isn’t just an ordinary hatchback. In fact, it’s probably the closest thing to physically embodying what the term “pocket rocket” means.
The history of the Shogun dates all the way back to 1989 when two engineers – Chuck Beck and Rick Titus – decided to take a seemingly boring Festiva and swapped the backseat for a Yamaha-sourced 3.0-liter V-6 engine from the Ford Taurus SHO that pumped out 220 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The two also worked on the aerodynamics (check out those massive rear fenders) of the car until it weighed just 2,190 pounds. The result was a hatchback that could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just five seconds to go with a top speed of 145 mph. Remember, this was 1989.
Only seven Shoguns were built and Leno, like the true collector that he is, owns chassis ’003’ of the seven models. Once he got it, Leno injected NOS into the engine, adding another 90 horsepower to the mix and bringing the total up to around 300 horsepower. Needless to say, the Shogun drives unlike any hatchback from any era, including this one.
Combine that with the sound of the engine and the sheer rarity of the car and you get a proper hot hatch that has clearly lasted the test of time. Just watching Leno take the Shogun out for a spin and hearing that Taurus SHO engine come to life is why this hot hatch has earned its status as a certified pocket rocket.
1978 Hongqi CA770 Leaves Jay Leno Stumped: Video
Jay Leno is a certified auto enthusiast. That much is public knowledge at this point, but even the most hardened expert of the automotive industry can be left stumped once in a while. For Leno, that time came when he featured a 1978 Hongqi CA770 in an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
In some ways, it is a little funny to watch Leno stumble his way through the intro. That’s understandable considering what he knew of the car – nothing – and quite frankly, I can’t blame him. I’d never heard of the Hongqi 770 before either.
The rest of the episode is spent talking with Capa MA, the owner of the 770. In between talking about Chinese generals attempting to assassinate Communist revolutionary leader Mao Tse-Tung and having the 770 actually stall during the traditional drive, there are plenty of interesting tidbits in this episode. Take for example: the car weighs close to three tons (6,000 pounds) and had no power steering. It also measures 18 feet long and has design references from just about every luxury car around that time, including a Mercedes 600 and a mid-sixties Lincoln Continental.
The truth is, there are enough nuggets of information in this episode that you’re going to be very interest in finding out. Go check it out and just excuse the befuddled look on Leno’s face in the first few minutes of the few. It’s not that often for him to have that look when talking about cars so let’s all cherish it for what it’s worth.
Jay Leno Has Some Fun With A Custom-Built 1915 LaBestioni Rusty Two: Video
It takes a pretty unique car to leave Jay Leno little time to talk about it, but between the uniqueness of this 1915 LaBestioni Rusty Two and the exuberance of owner Gary Wales, that’s exactly what we saw in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Now I’ve seen a lot of unique cars appear in Leno’s popular auto series, but this one has got to be right up there on top of that list.
The retro-styled look of the custom-built vehicle is definitely worthy of attention. Same thing for its massive 14.0-liter six-cylinder engine and the size of those cast iron pistons. All these things by themselves are unique. Put them all together and you get a vehicle that really escapes conventional description.
All that said, the best part of this episode isn’t in the final product, but the way it got to where it is today. See, this custom-built roadster on steroids actually sits on an American LaFrance fire truck frame. Wales and a friend of his recovered the frame in May 2014 and proceeded to spend the next year building up the vehicle. Most of the mechanical were kept stock, but the two did put in some modifications to the power steering and the brake discs. They also made some upgrades on the massive six-cylinder engine. Most importantly, they put in serious work on the roadster’s design, the blueprint of which Wales admitted sat only in his head. Whatever look he had in mind, the final product looks absolutely stunning.
Needless to say, Leno was impressed and as is always the case, he got to spend some time behind the wheel of the Rusty Two. It’s not the fastest car Leno has ever driven, but the look on his face as he drives it says everything about the uniqueness of the Wales’ Rusty Two.