|17th May 2004, 22:31||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Mar 2004
Thanked: 1,383 Times
Amazing Jay Leno article
a friend of mine forwarded it to me! no link here.. but this gr article below... this is abt JAY LENO (the talk show host on CNBC) and his collection or supercars! do read it! its worth!
As fun as the Roadmaster is to drive, it was merely the most recently redone addition to the Big Dog Garage. Before our drive, Jay Leno took us through the several concrete tilt-ups that house his collection.
The shop is a big warehouse where restoration and maintenance is done. At each stop, Leno dispensed knowledge and intricate detail about the history and mechanical makeup of each car. He knows more about his cars than any collector we’ve met. And he’s happy to share. Here are the highlights, since to do the entire collection would take a book. It would be a good book, but this is only a magazine.
First, the turbine-powered motorcycle.
“It’s just… it’s a jet. First you hear the fire below, then it’s like it just f******comes on so strong. It’s frightening to drive, but fun at the same time.”
He started it up and rode it around the block. It sounds like an F-18 Hornet. Next to that was a row of engines, led by one so big it had to be from a tank.
“It’s out of my hot rod; I’ll show you that in a minute.”
Then an Owens Magnetic.
“You know the Owens Magnetic? It’s kind of an early hybrid; it’s a gas-electric.”
He explained how the engine turns a flywheel that creates a magnetic field that then powers an electric motor… “It’s essentially like an electric car but with an electric engine. There’s no mechanical connection. You just move the rheostat, kind of like a Lionel train. It’s odd but it’s kind of peaceful and calming. You just go along, you do the rheostat, there’s no shifting.”
He knew the history of this one.
“This guy bought it in 1916 at the New York auto show. He just loved it and bought it off the floor. He was Norwegian. He took it to Norway and he noticed, uh oh, there aren’t any f******roads! So it sat for 50 years. It only has 9000 miles on it.”
Next was what we guessed was a Doble Steam car.
“No, it’s a Stanley. This is very early. Everything’s wood. It’s one of the few cars where you can get scalded to death and burned to death at the same time.”
We wandered past several projects being redone, including shop manager Bernard Juchli’s race car and a Healey 3000 of another staff mechanic. On a rack was a Lamborghini Miura being smogged. He even has smog testing equipment. Then there was a Doble under restoration.
“When this is done I’ll take you for a ride in it.”
Leno then gave a full description of the complex operation of the Doble engine: “There’s 525 feet of coil, you’re heating a quart of water at a time, it turns to steam, goes through a supercharger—what they call a draft booster—that spins at a tremendously high rate of speed that overtakes the electric fan, forcing air even faster through the carburetor, makes it even hotter, so then this is the control box...”
The description ended with, “You know, Abner Doble really was a genius.”
We went into the next room, another big concrete tilt-up structure. It was full of classics you’d see at Pebble Beach. Many have been shown there. Duesenbergs, Bentleys, Bugattis…
“This is the only American-body Bugatti ever made. Charles Howard, you know the Sea Biscuit guy? He bought the chassis in France, had the chassis shipped from Bugatti to Murphy. Murphy built the body. A Type 38 supercharged car. It’s a real California car, no windows, no top. The cool thing about this car was it’s always been a California car. Phil Hill had it as a teenager, Buddy Philips raced it in the dry lakes with a Type 35 engine in it.”
“That’s a Type 40 Grand Sport there. It’s a wonderful little car. It just has a wonderful, you know, yaaaa, nyaaaa, nyaaaa,” he made car noises, “a nice mechanical cadence. You just smile when you drive it. It’s not real fast—you can go on the freeway and everything. It has a mechanicalness to it that is hard to describe. Eeeeunh, click click, eeeeeunh, click, eeeeeeeunh, click click. Nothing else gives you that kind of feel.”
We moved on.
“These are all Duesenbergs. The Bentleys are fun. That’s a Brooklands Special.”
We asked if he could drive the Brooklands.
“Oh yeah, it’s got plates on it, its all legal… And this one, this is a 1924 three-liter Bentley chassis with the eight-liter Bentley engine and…”
He lifted the hood.
“Twin superchargers. It’s modern fast. It’s got, like, 450 horse but it’s the torque—it’s 700, 800 foot pounds. This is just fabulous.”
He pointed to the bodywork.
“That’s balsa wood. It weighs like 2200, 2300 pounds. You know Wyman bodies? Di’ja ever hear of Wyman bodies? What Wyman did back in the ’20s , he invented a process, because cars squeaked so much he’d put a metal strip and then you’d have strips of wood and then he’d stretch leather and that’s how it would flex. It doesn’t squeak.”
Next was a huge Duesenberg.
“That’s an actual wind-tunnel design. It was owned by [Eli] Lily, the pharmaceutical guy. It was just built to run over poor people with. He got it in ’34. He didn’t drive, he had a chauffeur. He’d go on the street and people would go, ‘F*** you!’ They’d throw rocks at it. He got rid of it in six months. I mean, the height of the Depression driving around in that thing?”
We went to the next building, sort of amazed that there was a next building.
First up was what looked like a little race car.
“Do you know the Rocket? This is built by Gordon Murray. Completely street legal, 775 pounds, 147 horse, 12 speeds—six high, six low. Nothing handles like this. I mean it’s fabulous. It’s so much fun.”
We recognized the McLaren F1 a couple of cars over.
“You ever seen one of these? It’s unbelievable. I don’t think there’s a modern car that can compare. It weighs less than the Miata, 2300 pounds, 675 horse.”
He showed us details: carbon fiber everywhere, gold heat reflectors, the world’s lightest stereo system.
“I can’t make it do what it can do. They run 241, that’s how fast they go. This thing at a hundred, you put your foot in it, you actually break the tires loose, just, ‘Breeeeeeunt.’ It pulls so hard. I never go 175. But on the freeway you pass somebody you go, ‘Aw, I’ll put my foot in it for a second,’ and f***, this is like jail time.”
He pulled out the McLaren tool kit and handed us a wrench. Titanium, we asked. Yes.
“Like you’re gonna be working on this by the side of the road.”
He admired the shape.
“It’s a classic form-follows-function kind of a thing. If it does its job right, then it looks right, ya know? I mean, there’s no stupid wing coming off the back.”
Next is a Lagonda.
“It’s just like ‘Brrrrrrrght!’ It’s a 4.4-liter V12, overhead cam, two valves per cylinder. Revs to 5500. Which was unbelievable in the ’30s.”
We walked around to the rear of the car.
“You know, if you’d ever seen a girl with an ### like this you’d marry her.”
He described his 1915 Hispano-Suiza as, “Just a hot rod.”
“Before World War I, when you wanted to go fast you just put the biggest airplane engine you could in the car. It’s really fast. It’s like driving a shotgun.”
We asked if they all get driven.
“I take something to work every day, even the firetruck.”
The firetruck sat at the end of the Burbank Airport runway for 30 years before the local fire department asked Leno if he wanted it. It’s now fully restored, even the siren, and used sometimes to haul motorcycles around.
“I drive this, people get the f*** outta the way.”
And it’s actually fun to drive.
“The interesting thing about the ’40s, before power steering came in, everybody had a good sense of weight, everything had a nice balance to it. It’s hard to describe, it actually drives quite nice.”
Across from the firetruck is a five-eighth-sized Jaguar E-Type. Why the five-eighth size?
“Well, they never made a short-wheelbase V12 car. From here [A-pillar] forward it’s a ’72 and from here back it’s a Series 1. In the ’60s, see it’s actually smaller than the 120; normally it would be bigger. And then it’s got a five-speed and six Webbers and all that stuff. So it’s just kind of a homemade little deal. But it goes great.”
Since we’re from a car magazine, the tour doesn’t include the motorcycles.
“Those are all the motorcycles over there.”
We passed into another hall.
“Come on, I’ll show you my hot rod.”
The car into which the Patton tank engine goes is the hot rod, which Leno calls simply, The Tank Car. It’s a huge two-seat, open-top roadster, like an early American Indy Car from before World War I, only much, much bigger. And sort of Art Deco.
“You know, it’s hilarious—990 horse. This thing weighs five tons. And it drives pretty nice, actually.”
The Patton tank engine is hooked to a six-speed Allison truck transmission and a rear differential from a Rockwell dump truck. The axles are from a GMC 7000 Series truck. The steering box is from a Greyhound bus. It’s the most outrageous car we’ve ever seen.
“Yeah, that’s the idea. It’s hilarious, it’s so huge.”
On the walls he has billboard-sized car ads. One is for a Dodge Challenger Hemi that is careening around a corner, seemingly out of control. The text reads, “Wanted: Men who can handle a real road machine.”
“That’s my favorite ad, by the way. The car is going off the road in the ad. It doesn’t even handle in the ad.”
Next to it is a Packard billboard that reads, “America’s most glamorous sports car. Packard Caribbean.” To which Leno says, “You’ve got an MG? I’ve got a Packard Caribbean. We should race!”
Across the floor is an exquisitely restored Hudson Hornet.
“Oh man, does that drive nice.”
There are a couple of Corvettes, a Shogun (the Taurus SHO-powered Ford Fiesta), a Mercer Raceabout, a Baker Electric, and on and on. We have to stop because the classified ad section starts soon, then motorsports.
How did he choose all these cars? Through the course of the day he gave different reasons.
“I tend to like any car that was ahead of its time,” he said once.
“I never thought I would be able to afford anything and now it’s like… I don’t have a summer home or any of that nonsense. And I work all the time. So this is what I like to do.”
“I try not to be some kind of super-rich show biz a******. I like cars and I like to think I’m just doing what any car guy would do if he had some money.”
|1st June 2004, 02:04||#2|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 210,415 Times
|1st June 2004, 17:01||#4|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Apr 2004
Thanked: 8 Times
Maybach......McDonald's drive through....... sounds very abnormal !!
|1st June 2004, 17:28||#5|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 66 Times
Dodge Hemi, Duesenberg Cowl and McLaren-F1. Now thats what i call unity in car diversity...
... amazing article. I wonder how long would i spend before i am done with checkin out his garage. A day, a week a year, a lifetime? Hard to say.
|1st June 2004, 21:16||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Apr 2004
Thanked: 383 Times
Shravan yep lol even remember seeing a pic of him takin a nice meal
And no revv, you wont spend much time there cuz id take up a lotta time of urs arguin outside his garage lol