8 Interesting Things From Last Night’s Episode of Jay Leno’s Garage

Surprisingly, not one of them is Leno’s chambray ensemble.

bySean Evans|
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The latest episode of Jay Leno’s CNBC show, Jay Leno’s Garage, is entitled “Beasts of Burden” and is dedicated to work machines. So the Chin brings us up close to the president’s bombproof Cadillac, a tiller truck, an M47 tank car, and Ken Block’s Hoonicorn doubling as a Postal Service delivery vehicle. We’re not a huge fan of work, but we love it when the erstwhile Tonight Show host surprises us. Our favorite revelations:

8. A car with the powerplant of an M47 Patton Tank exists


And Leno owns it, because of course he does. Designed by pal Randy Grubb, and simply dubbed “The Tank Car,” this 12-cylinder beaut runs on a Korean-era 1,100hp and 3,000 lb-ft torque engine that weighs as much as two Volkswagen Beetles. Leno added a Bosch fuel injection, twin turbochargers and an Allison double overdrive six-speed tranny. Despite tipping the scales at nearly five tons, it hauls ass.

7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt did use Al Capone’s seized bulletproof car


There’s a fair amount of debate as to whether our 32nd president motored around in a fortified set of wheels confiscated from the country’s top gangster. Most accounts say FDR’s vehicle was a 1928 Cadillac 341A Town Sedan, but since there’s nary a photo of FDR with the car, this is a pain point among history buffs. However, hanging on the walls of the Secret Service’s garage in Maryland is a photo of Capone’s 1939 Packard convertible, the caption claiming it was used as part of the presidential armored fleet.

6. The Beast, President Obama’s Cadillac limo, sits on bus tires

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

There are technically 12 of these puppies, all built to the same specs, all riding on special run flats made for buses. It’s hard to gauge their size until Leno stands beside the limo and the tires come up to the top of his thigh. While the rides are mostly built by Cadillac, they’re finished in this Maryland garage in a special armament bay.

5. The president has done more J-turns than you have


Learning high-speed tactical driving is hard enough. Imagine doing it with the Commander-in-Chief sitting in the back. While taking a government-kitted Dodge Charger through the Secret Service’s private tactical driving course, one agent confirms that, in fact, the President has been along for maneuvers, adding the First Lady is welcome—“if she asks.” Leno also breaks down the proper way to J-turn: “The car should be going above 50 miles per hour when you cut the wheel and it should spin around in less than two lengths.”

4. The backstory of Leno’s 1941 American LaFrance fire truck is pure Hollywood


Warner Brothers studio bought this as part of the studio’s fire brigade. It was pricey, with a sticker north of $14,000, but that’s precisely why the studio wanted it. It was the fanciest on the market and had a honking V12—the largest engine built in America, says Leno. Warner Brothers later donated it to the Burbank Airport, where it spent another five years in service. Eventually, the LaFrance was parked at the end of a runway. And there it sat until right after 9/11, when it was deemed a security hazard and marked for the junk yard. Leno snapped it up and restored it to glory.

3. The City of San Francisco really wanted Leno to drive their tiller truck


Leno’s always wanted to helm the back of a hook and ladder, so SFFD let him hop behind the second wheel of their 2015 Spartan Aerial Ladder Truck, custom built for the city. As Leno struggles to oppo-steer the 30-ton beast through city streets, take a peek at the outer edges of the frame. You’ll see at least two police cars and two police motorcycles scrambling around as escorts to keep real traffic away from the tiller. Quite the use of city resources. Uh, was a parking lot not available?

2. Want to double your money? Buy an 1983 FJ

Leno admits his show is accused of showcasing object d’art cars; beautifully designed machines that no one uses. Thus, this week’s Assess and Caress segment, hosted by venerable appraiser Donald Osborne, dives into collector cars you can drive. The cream of the crop is a cherry red ‘83 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ. New, it cost $10,300. Five years ago, they were going for $28,000. Now? $56,000. If you’ve got the means to pick up a steel Japanese jeep, get on it.

1. The United States Postal Service is unimpressed by the Hoonicorn


In particular, one USPS employee, Lonnie Perkins, didn’t give a shit about Ken Block whipping the 840hp AWD ‘65 Mustang around the parking lot. The setup for the tire shredding was flimsy; the 1987 Grumman LLVs (those wedge shaped monstrosities that the Post Office currently pushes) are outmoded, so why not replace them with a Gymkhana monster? Not only does Lonnie not approve, he actually cringes when Leno waves a package out the window as Block donuts. Block delivers, even in this USPS parking lot, leaving you wanting more.