Jay Leno is an acquired taste. You might think he’s one of the great comedians of all time or a denim-clad, lantern-jawed huckster whose expiration bell tolled long ago. Either way, he has gasoline-in-his-veins and has become the gold standard of car celebrities. He was recently inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and shared his thoughts on winning the award.
Appearing on SiriusXM Business Radio’s auto lifestyle show “Cars and Culture with Jason Stein,” he spoke about his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame, his passion for the hobby of collecting cars, his extensive and diverse collection, and breaking a world record in his Tesla.
Jay is a champion of the men and women who toil with their hands and built the cars that put the nation on wheels, “I was really honored. Because to me, coming from New England, a guy who runs is better than the guy who walks, a guy who walks is better than the guy who drives, and the guy who works with his hands is better than the guy who just sits and types in a computer all day. I mean, probably doesn’t get paid as much, but there’s something more real about it. And to me as a kid, I always admired the man and to a certain extent, women too, who could fix things with their hands and work with their hands. I mean, I always believed the healthiest was when the head and the hands work together.
“I tell jokes at night, and then during the day, I like to come to the garage and work on stuff because when you work on things, it gives you a perspective of how hard it is to make money. You need to look at things from a normal perspective. And comedy is only funny when it comes from an everyman point of view. So, when you work with your hands and you do mechanical things, you just appreciate the everyman point of view.”
The automobile is a continuing work-in-progress and we’re on the cusp of a complete transformation of the car as we know it. Case in point, a four-door EV that does a sub-10-second, quarter-mile at over 150mph. Jay just bought a Tesla Plaid and elaborates, “That thing is unbelievable, I went to Famoso dragstrip in Bakersfield. Drove to the strip, lined up under the lights, air conditioner on, four-door, nail at light change, green go, and we did 9.247 and 152 miles an hour. I mean, it is the fastest accelerating vehicle you can buy now. There’s no maintenance, it’s bulletproof, you got just about a 400-mile range. It’s an amazing vehicle. I’m stunned at how good it is.”
Jay has had quite a run, from comedian to late-night talk host, to a curator of cars ranging from steam engine buggies to modern EVs and beyond. Whether you’re a fan or not, his honesty and authenticity are real and his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame is well deserved.