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Jay Leno’s Garage

August 15, 2009

Filed under: life,review — Terry Wohlers @ 14:52

I visited Jay Leno’s Garage last week. Jay has a collection of 128 cars and 100 motorcycles. Most are rare, fully restored, and expensive. What’s most interesting is that all of them run and Jay drives them all. The garage is not a museum, yet it spans 100 years of automobile history. Jay buys the pieces because he likes to drive cars and motorcycles.

The person giving the tour of the garage was Rosalie, a sweet woman and wife of Bernard, Jay’s head mechanic. She works at the garage as the detailer and her memory and knowledge of automobiles is fascinating. She named all 228 vehicles by year, make, and model, and discussed the engine specs and other details of many of them. I can see why Jay hired her.

When doing the Tonight Show, Jay usually drove one vehicle a day. Now that he’s in-between shows, he drives up to five a day and makes multiple visits each day to the garage. The facility includes a gourmet kitchen where Jay often prepares meals for his staff.

The garage spans six buildings and consists of 1,579 square meters (17,000 square feet). It is equipped with a complete machine shop, body shop, and spray paint booth. Rosalie said the facility will soon expand to eight buildings. Several exceptionally talented employees keep the vehicles in impeccable shape. It’s impossible to find replacement parts for many of the cars and cycles because they are so old and rare. Consequently, Jay has little choice but to reproduce them in-house. The garage houses a 3D laser scanner from NextEngine and Dimension 3D printer from Stratasys.

Jay’s knowledge of cars and engine technology is impressive. His website includes video clips on most, maybe all, of the vehicles, with Jay showing and discussing each of them. He starts and drives them in the clips, which is a lot of fun to watch and hear. You can tell that he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Visiting the garage was a special experience. Rosalie is a busy person, yet she was very generous with her time. The tour went a full two hours, although it seemed like 30 minutes. I could have spent a full day there and felt fortunate to have visited. I hope to return soon.