14 Interesting Things From Jay Leno’s Garage Season 2 Premiere
Get ready for a slew of supercars.
Our favorite denim-clad host is back for a second season of Jay Leno’s Garage and it stepped off strong last night. Super strong, if you will, given the episode’s theme was supercars. All of the greats of yesteryear and today were represented in glorious, noisy fashion. Watching the comic pilot some of the rarest of the rare induced serious pangs of jealousy, particularly when he was given wheel time with the Koenigsegg One:1. Below, our favorite revelations.
Leno’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing sounds goddamn incredible. This would be the very same one that got mangled a few weeks back on his YouTube show. We never heard it in that video, but now as it roars through the San Gabriel Mountains during the opening sequence, it sounds deliriously good. Leno posits the 300SL was the first supercar. His evidence stacks up: crazy expensive ($7,295 at the time), first production car with fuel injection, and that I-6 was good for 215 horsepower, an outrageous number for the era.
Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis both owned Lamborghini Miuras. Both crooners snapped up Lambo’s most beautiful bull, the first car to be called a supercar. Leno rips his own V12, 360-horsepower wedge around, giving us a taste of how good natural aspiration can sound.
Leno claims the first-gen Countach is comfortable. After wedging himself into a 1977 Countach LP400 Periscopio, that beautiful angular coupe from Marcello Gandini, Leno declares it a comfortable machine. (I’m going to politely disagree, having just driven one in Miami, my knees up somewhere near my chin.) However, the mid-mounted, 4-cam V12 is objectively a fine engine.
Franco Barbuscia deserves his own show. The owner of Franco’s European Sports Cars Service in Van Nuys, CA, is a freaking riot. Barbuscia is an old school mechanic from Italy who specializes in Italian sports cars, particularly of the vintage variety. Given how rarely aging Italian steeds function properly, business is presumably booming. Barbuscia’s full of quips that only an old man can get away with dropping, such as, “The Ferrari looks like a nice girl. The Lamborghini? That’s a man’s car.
The Diablo VT was the first Lamborghini to crack 200 miles per hour. The 1999 VT was the first bull after Chrysler bought Lambo, and those 492 ponies were enough to get the coupe hauling.
Nick Cannon owns an exotic car dealership. Yes, seriously. Leno swings by the rather modest outfit to hear why Cannon decided to sell exotics—“I wanted to turn my hobby into a business”—and see some of his offerings. There’s a Ferrari 599, with that priceless 6.0-liter V12 Enzo engine, a 2006 Ford GT, which Cannon bought because it reminded him of his Hot Wheels cars, and a Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe that he bought for his grandfather but is now selling.
Cannon only likes supercars for the stares. Cannon, who inexplicably wears oversized headphones around his neck for the duration of his interview, takes Leno for a top down cruise in a 2013 Ferrari California, cautioning Leno that he’s a slow driver. “I go two miles an hour so everyone can see [me].” Leno rightly asks, 'why own supercars if you don’t like speed?'. “Girls like it,” Cannon replies. Sigh.
The Koenigsegg One:1 is a megawatt fever dream. Leno meets the man himself, Christian von Koenigsegg at Michelin’s proving grounds in South Carolina to fire the One:1 around. For the uninitiated, there are only six One:1s and one prototype, and Leno’s about to drive the only one in the United States. The name comes from the magical formula of having one horsepower for every one kilogram of car. And with 1,360 horsepower, it’s also the first production car to have one megawatt of power, making it the first megacar. (Number of "1"'s in this paragraph? Twelve.)
Koenigsegg makes everything but the tires from scratch. The 5.0-liter V8 powerplant (which is part of the chassis to bolster agility), those hollow carbon fiber wheels, the brake calipers—all are custom-made in the factory in Sweden. Outsourcing would hamper seamless integration, Koenigsegg explains. “With this high power and rear-wheel drive, you need to have control,” he says.
The One:1 drives like a giant go-kart. Koenigsegg says this earlier, but Leno confirms it when he’s behind the wheel, that insane engine note viscerally growling behind him. “It’s nimble and really easy to access the power,” he yells. Afraid to push this multi-million dollar car hard, Leno and Koenigsegg swap seats. The founder looks determined as he hammers it hard, though “you don’t have to be a good driver to enjoy this,” he shares. Let me be that mediocre steer, sir.
The 1913 Mercer Raceabout was one of the first cars designed for hoons. With a great 305 cubic-inch engine and solid suspension and not much else, the car was designed to be a quintessential sports car. It beat many of the 10-liter cars of the era because Mercer better understood power-to-weight ratios. It cost $2,250 new, and was so named because it had removable gas-powered headlamps. Want to go racing? Yank them off and gun it.
The 1977 Porsche Carrera Turbo was ill-timed. The 240 horsepower 911 arrived during the gas crisis and shocked the world. There was allegedly talk of banning it stateside because it was too fast for American roads.
The Porsche is your best investment bet. Bow-tie bedecked appraiser Donald Osborne is back to pit the Porsche against the Mercer and McLaren’s 1994 F1. Five years ago, the cars were worth $55,000, $650,000 and $3.6 million, respectively. Now, the Porsche will fetch $200,000, the Mercer is valued at $3.35 million and the McLaren is worth $12 million. The shocker is that the delta was greatest for the Porsche (264%). If you’re thinking, “Wait, there are only 64 F1s and thousands of those 911s. Why isn’t the McLaren the winner?” Leno asked that very question. Osborne explains that “appreciation in the market is not determined by rarity but by the number of transactions,” of which there are many more for the Porsches.
Leno nearly didn’t buy his F1. When Leno saw his three-seater McLaren on the showroom floor back in the day, with a sticker price of $970,000, he waited for a while before deciding to purchase. He’s glad he did, since Gordon Murray’s vision is now arguably the greatest road going supercar of the 20th century. Devoid of all driver aids, when you’re in charge of that 370 cubic-inch V12, those 627 horses are all your full disposal. “You’re the master of your own destiny,” Leno notes, ripping through some mountain esses. With a top speed of 241 miles per hour, this is still the fastest naturally aspirated car.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below.