13 Surprising Facts From Last Night’s Jay Leno’s Garage

$12 million of Ferrari supercars all on one track? Yes, please.

bySean Evans| PUBLISHED Nov 10, 2016 2:58 PM
13 Surprising Facts From Last Night’s Jay Leno’s Garage

The beloved and be-denimed Jay Leno returned to CNBC with an all-new episode of Jay Leno’s Garage last night. Leno is obviously a passionate gearhead. When we dropped by his garage earlier this summer and asked him to show us his favorite examples of classic American muscle cars, Leno got so into it, we had a hard time trimming down the resulting video. So it’s fitting that this episode dives into our love of cars, tackling everything from how passionate collectors chose a favorite marque to whether a deep backstory about a beloved classic will affect its market value. Below, some of the more interesting revelations.

Vice President Joe Biden can’t drive for six months after he leaves office.

Which makes our Veep extremely happy that Leno pulled some strings and got Biden behind the wheel of his 1967 Corvette Stingray, the only car Biden’s ever loved. When Leno meets Biden at the Secret Service training facility, his olive C2 at the ready, Biden confides that this will be his third time driving in seven years, and that he’s prohibited from getting behind the wheel for another half year after leaving the White House. His 327 4-speed, with about 300 horsepower, was restored by his sons as a Christmas present right after his re-election. Biden hops in with Leno and immediately does a burnout. “I like speed,” Biden grins. “I’ve buried this. I’ve had this to 160 miles an hour.”

Biden’s father used his job at a car dealership to help get his son cars for prom.

“That was great,” Biden recounts. “Every prom, man. I once had a ‘61 300D. That was quick, man. Real quick.”

General Colin Powell, a fellow Corvette fan, thinks the Z06 has too much power.

When Powell arrives in his 2015 Stingray Z51 and buzzes by Biden and Leno, Biden mats it. “Remember,” cautions Leno. “[Powell’s] got better brakes than you.” Powell fell in love with Corvettes after driving one as an Indy pace car, so he bought a 2013. Then the C7 came out and he couldn’t stop talking about how good they looked. So his kids bought him the 6.2-liter LT1 V8 powered Z51. Then, days later, they gave him the bill for the car, Powell laughs. The 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque is more than enough for Powell. Biden wants the Z06, but Powell waves him off, saying that the 650-horsepower LT4 is overkill.

Biden and Powell are surprisingly adept at trash talking.

Set-ups on Jay Leno’s Garage can occasionally come off a touch scripted, but the back-and-forth between these two seemed genuine:

Powell: You can’t keep up with me. You can’t be serious. C’mon, man.

Biden: I can keep up with you, man. I’ll flat shift this sucker in second gear.

Powell: I don’t even need second gear. Automatic will beat you to death.

Biden. Let me see. Get in.

Powell: Try to keep up, Mr. Vice President.

They hop in, rev their ‘Vettes and Powell offers a head start, which Biden accepts. Our Vice President peels out and Powell follows suit a second later, leaving Leno standing between a pair of smoky elevens. Absolutely fantastic.

WCW star Bill Goldberg teaches our armed forces members how to drive high horsepower cars without killing themselves.

The former pro wrestler owns some incredible, classic American sheet metal. His garage boasts some 19 monsters, including a 1965 custom AC Cobra, a 1973 Trans Am, a 1969 Dodge Charger RT, a 1959 Chevrolet Biscayne, a 1946 Willys Jeep, a 1968 Plymouth GTX and a 1970 Ford Mustang Super Boss 429 Lawman. That very car was an Al Eckstrand original, used by the erstwhile lawyer-turned-racer when he embarked on a passion project that birthed a driving school. Eckstrand was tired of seeing young servicemen coming back from war, buying powerful cars and wrapping them around a tree. He partnered with Ford and brought six Mach 1s and a few Boss 429s around to bases to teach nearly 250,000 enlisted men how to drive. Goldberg redid the tour with Ford recently, hitting more than a dozen bases around the world.

Goldberg’s wife’s car is way better than yours.

His wife, Wanda Ferraton, is an accomplished stunt driver. Her daily wheels? A 1970 Pontiac Trans Am Pro Touring that’s packing 650 ponies under the bonnet. However, her favorite car is a 1967 Mercury M100 pickup that she learned to drive when she was nine years old, growing up on a farm in Canada. Goldberg recently had it restored to factory condition for a hefty chunk of change.

Gabriel Iglesias has a serious penchant for vintage Volkswagen Buses.

“This is what happens when you don’t have a cocaine problem,” the comic deadpans, gesturing to his 18 classic VW Type 2s. His first set of wheels was a ‘68 Transporter, and he fell in love with how simple they are. His choice German chariot is a 21-window Bus that sports a modified engine, good for 200 horsepower. “So it’ll go, what, 60 or 70?” asks Leno. “I got it up to 90 once,” Iglesias beams. He doesn’t own his dream Bus, however. That would be the original 1950 Barn Door, the one that started it all. “They’re still around, but they’re all in museums in Germany,” he laments.

Iglesias owns the first VW Beetle to reach America.

His 1950 Bug came with the paperwork certifying it was the first people’s car to hit U.S. soil.

Leno somehow convinced David Lee to track $12 million worth of Ferrari supercars.

And bless both of them for that, because it’s a rare sight to see a 1985 288 GTO, a 1990 F40, a 1995 F50, a 2003 Enzo and a 2014 LaFerrari all winding around a circuit. Lee, a watch and jewelry dealer who is one of the world’s biggest Ferrari collectors, used to treat the super stallions like collector pieces. “I’d drive them a few hundred miles, worry about resale value and then sell them,” Lee admits. Now, he just drives them. His brothers climb behind various wheels and Leno gets to drive the LaFerrari. Lucky bastard.

The LaFerrari had no design input from Pininfarina.

This would be the first Ferrari since 1973 to break from that storied tradition. Pininfarina did submit a design, but lost out to Ferrari's in-house team in Maranello.

The F50’s engine predates the car.

When introduced in 1995, the F50 featured a 4.7-liter V12, tuned to about 750 horsepower. That same powerplant was used a year earlier in the 333SP when competing in IMSA.

A 1960 Triumph TR-3 may mean the most to Leno.

A watery-eyed Leno grows somber when recounting the tale of how this was his brother’s car. A decade older than Leno, his brother was a hero to our host, and after crashing the car, Leno used some of his Tonight Show money to have it rebuilt and make it perfect again. Leno’s brother passed away from cancer in 2002.

Loving backstories fetch higher auction prices, even when the technically car is worth less.

For the Assess and Caress segment with Donald Osborne, we’re treated to a 1954 Austin Healy 100-4 (so named because 100 was the guaranteed speed it would reach), a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible 289 V8 with all the desirable packages, including the Pony package and the deluxe interior, and a 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, with an upgraded 1600cc engine and a five-speed transmission. On paper, the Alfa has appreciated the most, up 85 percent over the past five years. At auction it would command about $115,000. The Mustang only has about 24 percent growth, and the Austin Healy comes in second, with a 35 percent appreciation. However, the Austin Healy was a one-family owned car, bought in 1955 and used both to road rally and to bring the kids to school. As such, Osborne thinks it would far surpass a value of $115,000 and, with that history, could go for as much as $160,000.