Unveiling Jay Leno's Fleet Of Weirdest Cars Ever

By Simon Boseman

Published July 11, 2024

Unveiling Jay Leno's Fleet Of Weirdest Cars Ever
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The renowned automotive journalist Jay Leno is known to have a diverse range of vehicles while some of them are unique and bizarre at the same time. Among his 180 cars and 160 motorcycles which are priced between $75 to $100 million cars like the 1931 Shotwell, Tank Car, etc, reflects Leno’s passion for unique designs and mechanical ingenuity. His collection is a testament to the diversity and evolution of automotive design and we are here to share 15 of Jay Leno's weird cars.  


15. 1906 Advance Steam Traction Engine

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

Jay Leno’s Garage is always eventful and weird at the same time considering the crazy vehicles Leon has in his car collection. Things get much more interesting when you come face-to-face with a 13-ton vehicle from the early 1900s. The 1906 Advance Steam Traction Engine is the biggest, heaviest, and probably the weirdest vehicle in Jay Leno’s Garage. Rebuilt by Orman Rawlings, this traction engine can do from hauling to plowing and can even be fitted to a sawmill.

 

Leno’s Steam Traction Engine stands at 9′ 6” inches in height and 104” inches in width and the single-cylinder engine requires 250 to 300 gallons of water to get the vehicle moving. During the rebuilding, Jay and Orman went with propane-fueled boilers as they are easy to turn on and off.

"…four miles an hour doesn't sound like fast but when you ride this thing, it'll scare you to death, it's hilarious…"


14. 1911 Christie Fire Engine

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

Early 1900s vehicles were mostly horsedrawn and as soon as fire trucks made their debut in the market the fire department couldn’t afford to get their hands on the new technology as the engine alone cost about $10,000 at that time. So, an engineer named Walter Christie fitted a 20L 4-cylinder engine to power the fire trucks and made significant changes.

 

Jay Leno had his Christie Fire Engine restored especially the skeleton of the car and painted it with an old-school fire truck color scheme. The T-engine on the truck has 4 cylinders and each piston is the size of a 327 Chevy engine.  

“…this is a very sophisticated piece of firefighting equipment when they came out because remember before this it was bucket brigades…”


13. 1913 Mercer Raceabout

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

Probably America’s most famous and greatest car of all time is the Mercer Raceabout. Jay Leno owns a 1913-year model and you could easily buy one and take it directly for racing as the Raceabout was a sports variant. Leno’s Raceabout is particularly special as it was the most expensive paid Mercer model ever bought back in the ‘60s (around $45,000).

 

The Raceabout uses a 302 cu-inch engine and the lightweight construction of the Chasis made the car one of the fastest cars back in the day. The cars were built in Trent, New Jersey by the Roeblings but their company went out of business as they decided to take a ship voyage in the Titanic. There are only 20 to 25 Mercer models exist in the world making them a vintage piece in American automotive history.

“…i think it's really aesthetically pleasing because it's a real form follows function kind of car. There's nothing on this car that doesn't need to be there…”


12. 2009 Ariel Atom

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

What if you want a supercar that is the size of a golf cart? Questionable right? Well, among Jay Leno's weirdest cars, it is a reality. Meet Jay Leno's Ariel Atom. Originated in the UK by Simon Saunders and later manufactured in 2009 by Brammo Motorsports, Jay's Ariel Atom is the first Ariel Atom built under license (Serial no: 001) in the United States making it a special one in his collection.

With a lightweight body weight of just 1,350 lbs, Jay Leno's Ariel Atom is just as fast as an Enzo (As per Jay Leno). This mini supercar had a Honda motor that Leno swapped in with a 300-hp supercharged 2.0L Chevy Cobolt Ecotech powertrain boasting a 0-60 acceleration in just 2.8 seconds.

“…most fast cars going 100 feels like 60 on this car 60 feels like 100…”


11. Deronda Sports Car

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

Building a sports car eventually comes down to its power-to-weight ratio and Jay Leno's Deronda sports car nails that off the pavilion. Originally designed in the UK the Deronda sports car was manufactured in Detroit by Jay's friend Chris Trap. The car is made with composite materials from different brands such as a 400-hp Corvette LS2 engine mated to a Porsche G50 5-speed transaxle gearbox.

 

The car features a TIG welded chrome molly chassis with composite body panels combining fiberglass and carbon fiber making it a 1,850 lbs sports monster with a front-to-back weight ratio of 60/40. On his YouTube channel, Jay Leno described his Deronda saying, "...I guess you would call it a composite car at best using the best elements of what's out there - the Porsche transmission, the Corvette engine which of course is bulletproof..."

“…this is probably the most versatile engine in American history…”


10. Light Car Company Rocket

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

Another super compact racing car sensation in Jay Leno's weirdest cars is his Rocket car built by the Light Car Company. Jay had this car for over 30 years and also it was one of the first cars that he built with the help of LCC. Ironically, the LCC Rocket car was also Gordon Murray's first car that he ever produced keeping the famous Colin Chapman School motto - 'Lighter Is Better' intact.

 

This 2-seater rocket car was produced for only 50 units and also it is the lightest (770 lbs) production car ever built. Surprisingly Jay's rocket car uses a water-cooled 1.0L 147-hp Yamaha Genesis five-valve motorcycle engine. The engine redlines a colossal @12,000 rpm resulting in a screaming street-legal vehicle like the Vanwall race car from the 1950s. From Jay Leno's perspective, "...It's a lot of fun and it truly gives you a sensation of speed unlike any other car I've ever been in..."

…the best thing about this car is it's no bigger than a coffin so one can you imagine that you dig a hole they can drop the whole thing right in the ground they don't even have to take you out of it, fantastic…"


9. 1931 Shotwell

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

It was 1931 when a 17-year-old kid in Minnesota named Bob Shotwell built a car from scratch after being denied having to buy a car. Bob and his father went to the nearest junkyard and found an Indian motorcycle engine alongside some other parts and built a 3-wheel personal car for himself which was later named – The Shotwell. In its lifetime Bob and his brother drove the car from Minnesota to Alaska to San Diego and has over 150,000 miles on its tires.

 

When Bob was in his 70s he gave the car to Jay with the condition of never selling the car and doing the needed restoration. Knowing the story and the unique labor of love, Leno brought the car back in the early 2000s. The engine stayed the same while fuel injection, modern radiators, electric fans, etc were installed to ensure the longevity and performance of the car.

…"you know so it's fascinating that Bob could build this car by himself it costs him $300 it took him two three years to finish it and he was quite proud of it…"


8. 1909 Baker Electric

Source: MyClassicCarTV (YouTube)

Jay Leno’s garage is filled with weird cars but his 1909 Baker Electric is simply bonkers. If anything was advanced in the early 1900s among automobiles, nothing beats the Baker Electric. At first, the car is built like a phone booth on wheels but according to Jay Leno, it is the most maintenance-free vehicle in his garage. When talking about his Baker Electric to MyClassicCarTV host Denis Gage, Leno said, “…I have to say it’s the only car I have that is 100% maintenance free”

 

Back in the day, there were 15,000 units of Baker Electric were produced and New York had charging stations built all over the city. The car used to run on original Thomas Edison alkaline batteries however, Jay Leno swapped those with six modern 6v deep cycle batteries making it eligible to climb any hill at a top speed of 23 MPH. This is also one of Jay’s wife’s favorite cars.

…"it's such a beautifully put together motor and although it looks like a carriage it is a carriage but it has some high-tech ideas for the time you have leather fenders see leather was the carbon fiber of the day…"


7. 1950 Mercedes-Benz Racecar Transporter

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

The Gullwing is a true legend in the automotive industry and so this is the Mercedes-Benz Racecar Transporter. Even though this is a replica that Jay Leno owns, in his television show, “Jay Leno's Garage.” he talks about this car. Mercedes built this transporter to race in the Formula 1 competition throughout Europe.

 

After learning about this, Leno became very fond of this pickup truck and purchased this blue wonder. The surprising fact is that the same engine and dashboard are also being used in the 300SL Gullwing.

…we use it as a transporter and people love this thing you know you take this to a Mercedes meet and people go crazy they just think it's the coolest looking thing and to this day I still think it's one of the coolest looking vehicles of all time…"


6. GM EcoJet

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

It is regrettable that this brilliantly designed EcoJet was never put into production. Going back in time, GM and Jay Leno created this biodiesel-powered prototype automobile. According to reports the idea of this car came up in Leno and his mechanic's mind and they sketched onto the paper napkins making this dream project a reality.

 

Believe us when we tell you that Leno's EcoJet features a 650-hp Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine typically found in helicopters. Leno has long coveted this two-seater car. We may say that this car is a hybrid of an airplane and a road vehicle.

…"well actually it's called eco cuz when we built this we built it to run on biofuel…"


5. BAC Mono

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

The MONO series was developed in 2009 by the British automobile manufacturer Briggs Automotive Corporation. The BAC founders developed a street-legal, single-seat Formula 1 automobile. Currently, Jay Leno is the owner of one of these BAC Mono. Given that it had the quickest RWD acceleration in 2018, this vehicle is an achiever.

 

Moreover, it has several additional accolades in the automobile sector to its credit. So, it is obvious that Jay Leno fell in love with this supercar for the reasons outlined. Jay Leno's BAC Mono features a turbocharged I4 engine that has a peak speed of more than 170 MPH making it a near-road-legal F1 race car. 

“…this looks like a Formula One car but it is street-legal…”


4. Blastolene Special: Tank Car

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

The Blastolene Special, often known as the "Tank Car", is presently owned by Jay Leno. Randy Grubb, an American master craftsman, created this enormous vehicle. The entire vehicle was designed specifically for Jay Leno. This vehicle's original components were an American military tank engine and a body built of aluminum at a specialized shop.

 

Leno made changes to the vehicle throughout time. For improved fuel efficiency, he just added twin turbochargers as well. Jay Leno’s Tank car has a whopping 30L Hemi V12 engine making this 20 ft car go from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 140+ mph.

“…you know getting Brakes in the back vacuum tanks for the brakes power boosters all that stuff reinforce those Springs uh had to reinforce the chassis cuz it had so much torque it was literally twisting itself apart…”


3. 2014 Morgan Three-Wheeler

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

The 2014 Morgan 3-Wheeler belongs to Jay Leno. This vehicle is a three-wheeled roadster made by Morgan Motor Company in the United Kingdom. The design of this three-wheeler revolves around simplicity and tends to provide an excellent driving experience.

 

Leno in one of the videos talked about how the car gives a vintage feeling and appears to be quite distinctive from its other competitors in the 3-wheeler car. Other than Leno's 2014 Morgan 3-wheeler car, he also owns another Morgan tri-scooter from 1932.

“…well i think it's the oldest automobile continuous automobile manufacturing facility in great britain…”


2. 1924 Delage 2LCV V12 Grand Prix

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

The British Lagonda firm created the massive automobile known as the Delage 2LCV V12 Grand Prix. The Delage 2LCV V12 Grand Prix is special because it boasts “10 Le Man’s engine specifications” that have never before been seen in the industry. This vehicle is indeed stunning and Enzo Ferarri himself stated this car to be one of the best machinery work ever. 

 

Jay Leno bought it because he thought it was one of the greatest vintage cars ever made. The Delage 2LCV V12 Grand Prix was shown at the 2012 Pebble Beach auto show where enthusiasts from all over the world looked at Leno's Delage V12 and took pictures with it. 

“…I'm here with one of the most well certainly the most complex and fascinating Grand Prix cars of all time…”


1. 2012 Tata Nano

Source: Jay Leno's Garage (YouTube)

Tata Motors produced the city automobile known as the Tata Nano. For only US$1,300 in 2012, this automobile was first introduced in India in 2008. Jay Leno gave this small hatchback a warm Indian greeting. He complimented this automobile as the world's cheapest car in one of his videos.

 

Leno took delivery of his Nano and took it for a spin on a runway as it didn't check the US vehicle safety regulations. Regrettably, Tata Motors bid a sad goodbye to their most cheap production vehicle in 2017. In terms of cost-cutting innovations, this vehicle is frequently contrasted in India with the Volkswagen Beetle and the Maruti Alto 800. 

“…so nano, you might not be faster than the f1, you might not handle as good or brake as good, when it comes to air conditioning you guys got it beat so thank you very much in fact i'm going to take the air conditioner out of this nano and put it in my f1 mclaren, that's what i'm going to do…”


This is it for what Jay Leno's weird cars have to offer for now. As we know Leno's hunger for vehicles is always on cloud 9 we will return with more if Jay Leno's Garage comes forward with any news. Also, you can check out the links below for related celebrity car collections.


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FAQs

Does Jay Leno own a Koenigsegg?

Yes, The Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, one of Jay Leno's most technologically advanced models, has a top speed of 254+ mph.

Does Jay Leno own a Tucker car?

Yes, he previously owned a Tucker car until Leno decided to sell that.

How many exotic cars does Jay Leno own?

Jay Leno's car collection consists of over 181 cars and 160 motorcycles.

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