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HomeCar CultureMy appearance on "Jay Leno's Garage"

My appearance on “Jay Leno’s Garage”

The episode is scheduled to air this summer

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I’ve never sold a car,” was Jay Leno’s response when I asked him, “What car have you sold that you later regretted selling?” This seemed to make sense because Jay’s production team had just finished giving me a tour of Jay’s facility and explaining how it had grown out of necessity by annexing additional rooms over the years.

When I later asked co-executive producer David Swift if Jay’s looking to add anything to the collection, his response was, “I think he’s satisfied. Not to say that he couldn’t squeeze a few more in here.”  

Jay Leno's garage 1992 Acura Integra

To be truthful, Jay’s 2015 Tesla Model S did sell at online auction for $95,500 in July 2021, but to some folks, replacing a commuter car like that is akin to upgrading to the latest iPhone or modern appliance –- not something affiliated with sentimental value or great importance.

My invitation to the famous garage came about through some shared connections in the film industry and was primarily driven by Jay’s team’s desire to highlight “modern” collector cars that don’t typically get featured in conversations of this type. The specific vehicle that got me there was my green 1992 Acura Integra GS-R.

While very run-of-the mill in its day, the now 30-year-old Integra has become a sought-after rarity in its condition even with 252,000 miles, and Leno’s team wanted to know about it. 

Jay Leno's Garage 1992 Acura Integra

“The collector car community is ever-expanding,” said appraiser Donald Osborne of the justification for bringing me and my Integra onto the show.

“Just like our waistlines,” added Leno, to which they both had a hearty laugh.

When my Integra was new in 1992, Jay was just starting his 17-year stint as host of The Tonight Show, and he remembers the model well from back in the day.

Now in its seventh season, Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC serves as a venue for Jay to share in his love of all-things automotive. My involvement in the show came as a feature for the “Behind the Bowtie” segment for an upcoming episode, wherein world-class appraiser Donald Osborne goes through the nuts & bolts of what it takes to come up with valuation on a collector car.

I participated in some Q&A with both Donald and Jay on-camera, and the three of us later took my Integra for about an eight-mile drive. As uncomfortable as an Integra backseat is for an adult occupant, the experience was 100 percent worth it. I encouraged Jay to push the car to its “VTEC” range of the rpm powerband, and he obliged with a grin.

Jay Leno's Garage 1992 Acura Integra

Jay’s collection encompasses more than just cars, trucks and motorcycles. The glossy showrooms in his garage are home to a wide array of automobilia, such as radio-controlled vehicles, diecast model cars, signed promotional materials, and much more. The environment is truly immersive for a car-nut like me and it would take days or even weeks to appreciate every work of art within those walls.

The facility is in fact not so much a garage in the residential sense, but rather a business complex adjacent to the Burbank airport in the Los Angeles metropolitan area – a nondescript series of workshops that have been transformed into a conjoined mega showroom. I spent about eight hours there – about half of it, completely unsupervised and soaking it all in. The rest of the time I was following instructions from Jay’s production team on exactly where they wanted me and when.

It’s worth noting that Jay’s pride and joy is a 1955 Buick Roadmaster two-door in stunning silver and black that he’s had long enough to remember when he had to live in it for a short time. But his current collection spans some 200 cars across vast types. My favorite part about the overall collection was that each artifact or car has a purpose and a story. 

For example, Jay proudly displays a red first-generation Mazda Miata that belonged to his brother Patrick, who passed away from cancer in 2002.  During breaks between taping, Jay was hospitable enough to show me a few of his other standout cars and features; he showed me a record player inside one of his Imperials, and he sat on the trunk of his Packard Caribbean to show me how the self-leveling air suspension worked. 

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the entire experience was the sense of organization among not only the production crew but within the facility itself. Every vehicle was connected to a battery tender and had ignition keys readily available for Jay’s use at a moment’s notice, and every vehicle – including the motorcycles – had a current registration sticker. I can only imagine the administrative work it must take to ensure that each of Jay’s rides stays current with the California DMV.

Beyond all the glitz and glamour of Jay’s shiny toybox, deep down inside he’s a car enthusiast just like so many of us. I thank him graciously for extending hospitality to a crazy Acura collector from Arizona. Can’t wait to see how the episode turns out when it airs this summer!

Tyson’s appearance on “Jay Leno’s Garage” is scheduled to air this summer.

Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie grew up in a family of gearheads and enjoys anything to do with automotive and motorsports. He is a contributing editor to Redline Reviews, a YouTube channel with coverage from major auto shows. He also writes for Arizona Driver Magazine and holds leadership positions with a number of car clubs. Tyson has lived in Arizona for 10 years and his current obsession is Japanese cars from the early 1990s which, though hard to believe, are now becoming classics. Tyson can usually be found exploring offbeat and obscure road trip destinations on his blog "Drive to Five," which started as a way to share travel stories and experiences with his now-550,000-mile Acura.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Tyson that Packard suspension was new for 1955 and is not Air. It is electric Torsion Bar Leveling and is very unique in the industry. You can find out more in Jay’s video review of his 1955 Caribbean.
    Thanks
    Steve
    “Ask the man who owns one”

  2. Hey Jay met you at the Punch Line in Sandy Springs GA back in the 80’s. I have a 2001 Silverado with 499,900 miles. Would love to talk to the experts about keeping Bib Blue for another 500,00 miles

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