CNBC Jay Leno’s Garage, Tonight’s Episode He’s California Dreamin’

jay-lenos-garage-s1-thumbLeno covers all things automotive, last week’s series premiere reached 1.1M viewers, episode 2 premieres tonight on CNBC at 10p et/pt

By Gabrielle Pantera

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2015/10/21 – “When you look at cars, especially from the art deco period, from the ’30s and ’40s, it is artwork,” says Jay Leno, the host of Jay Leno’s Garage. “I mean, it’s sculpture. It’s kinetic sculpture. I mean, it moves and it rolls, and, you know, when you see an art deco car parked in the museum and it’s got ropes around it, it’s certainly attractive. But when you see it going down the road interacting with modern vehicles, people really  it really wakes them up. All cars now have sort of a jellybean shape, and they all seem to be white, silver, gray, or black. When you’re driving something that’s orange and yellow and it’s got art deco, fins, and all this kind of you go down the road and people literally drop their cell phones because they’re startled by this thing going by.”

“An old lady called me and she had a ’51 Hudson, and I already have a ’51 Hudson,” says Leno. “She says, “Come out and look at it.”  Well, I went out there, and she was 96 years old, and she bought it new with her husband, and her husband died, and her and her family drove across country. The only car they ever had. And when he died back in ’96, she just went in the garage every day and dusted it off. It had been sitting for 20 years. And when I saw the car and she told me the story, well, I had to buy it. So I bought the car, and then we went back and I told her I was going to take her for a ride in it when it was finished. And she went out and she got her hair done and she got her two kids, who are 70 now, and we all went for a ride. And the kids are pushing each other in the backseat, and she’s slapping them. You know, like it’s 1951 all over again.  And we’re going down, and she had such a wonderful time. She was 96, but no hearing aid, no glasses. I mean, she looked maybe 70.  But just a tough  I mean, she passed away at 101 about two months ago. But she just had the time of her life. And I you know, it was so much fun to buy that car, fix it up, and then take her for a ride, and with her kids in the back  “No, he pushed me.” Two 70 year old men in the back doing this. And she’s 96 and just slapping the crap out of them. I mean, it was a lot of fun. And that’s the case of where you really buy the story more than you buy the car.”

“I hear from an awful lot of old guys who can’t drive anymore, and they want their car to go to a good home,” says Leno. “And I always pay the price because when you have a car that was owned by someone who really took care of it, you might pay a little bit more, but you got something you know is correct. I mean, we live in a time when people can shine something up and paint it and push it out on the market, and it can be just totally rotted out underneath, but it looks fantastic. When you buy a car from a collector and you promise him that you won’t sell it    you know, nobody wants to look like a fool. A lot of guys will sell a car, and, then, two weeks later, they see it at an auction for two or three times the price, and they feel like idiots. I just hear from, you know, a lot of widows. “My dad collected cars.  He liked you.  He liked your show on YouTube.  He would want you to have this.” Okay.  And, then, you work out a price that’s commensurate, you know, that’s fair for everybody, basically.”

“People come up and they want to tell you a story of my uncle or my grandmother or the first car,” says Leno. “My Buick, I met my wife in my ’55 Buick. We got married in my ‘55 Buick.  My wife hates this story, but the first time we sort of whatever was in my ’55 Buick, and I thought, on our 25th anniversary, well, let’s go back to the place where we first did it in the Buick.  So, of course, it’s in Franklin Canyon, but there’s a house there now. All right.  So we get kind of close to the house, in the driveway, and it’s 2:00 in the morning. And, then, it’s “Ow.  You are on my hair.”  Beep, the horn.  “Ow.”  You know, you are not as agile 25 years later.  But I remember, then the porch light came on, and the guy came up. “Sorry.”  “What are you doing in my driveway?”  “Sorry.  It’s a long story.  Sorry.  I’m putting my shirt on.  Let me get out of here.”  It wasn’t quite as good as the first time, but it was satisfying.”

When Leno was in High school he sold his ’34 Ford and right after that learned never to sell anything.

“Well, the first car I ever bought, I bought in high school,” says Leno. “I got a ’34 Ford pickup truck when I was 14. We had a long driveway. And when you’re 14, I would have nightmares:  What if I can’t drive a stick? What if I can’t learn? This is going to be awful, you know. I’d be up all night doing this, and I would just practice going back and forth in the driveway. I still have a crick in my neck from doing this all day.  And my mom would go, “Why do you just keep backing up?” And I couldn’t wait to get my license, but I sold that car, and actually I know it’s in New England somewhere, and I will track it down one day and find it.”

“I’m a huge Corvair enthusiast,” says Leno. “I love Corvairs. It’s the most European car ever made, and you can buy them for $1,500. So it’s not like it’s all Lamborghinis and Ferraris. I don’t even own a Ferrari. It’s not that. It’s just interesting. Like I say, a lot of times it’s the story. You know, I had an old man that called me.  His name was Popkin, and he was 93 years old. And he said, “Jay Leno, I’ve got a 1967 Chrysler Imperial I want to sell you.” I said, “Nah, I don’t really    I’m not a big Chrysler fan.”  “You’ve got to come look at the car.” I said, “Where do you live?”  “Sunset Boulevard”  “Sunset?  Where on Sunset?”  “Right down from the Beverly Hills Hotel.”

Well, this sounds really interesting. So I go to his house, it’s a long driveway. It’s like William Holden, you know, like the movie. And I pull in. And he’s 93, and he’s outside. And he’s got a smoking jacket and an ascot. And he’s got with him a guy about 70 with white hair, who is his mechanic, who’s serviced his car at his house every month since 1967. And it turns out he was a movie producer, and he made African American films for African American audiences. And he had, like, the black James Bond, the black Gene Autry, and he had and he was married to a starlet, who was a starlet back in the ’40s. And, of course, I went into the house, and she won’t come out because she’s a starlet. So she’s in the bedroom.  I’m talking to her through the wall.  I mean, it’s hilarious. So, then, I go, “Well, show me your ’67 Chrysler Imperial.” So he opens the garage door, and it’s a brand new ’67 Chrysler Imperial.  And he said, “Jay, I was so afraid if I had an accident with this car, I wouldn’t be able to get parts.” And he opens the other two garage doors, and he had bought every part, new bumpers, new fenders, new windshield. In case he ever had an accident, he had all of these extra parts, but he never had an accident. Well, now I have to buy the car. I mean, it’s a great story, old time movie producer, Sunset Boulevard. So I bought the car.  So that’s another case where you buy the story more than you buy the car.”

Twitter: @LenosGarage@CNBC@jayleno

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