Jay Leno's Net Worth And The True Value Behind His Car Collection

Comedian, talk show host, and car aficionado Jay Leno has one of the most high-profile car collections in America. His collection includes over 180 cars and 160 motorcycles, and since he almost never sells his vehicles, that number is constantly increasing. In fact, Leno is known to have only sold one car in thirty years, a Tesla Model S that, at one point, he was using as his daily driver. After auctioning the car off on Bring a Trailer, Leno invited its lucky new owners on a private tour of his garage, highlighting a few of the many special vehicles under his ownership.

His collection is an eclectic one, with everything from cutting-edge hypercars to gas-guzzling American classics kept at his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, California. It encompasses cars from many of the world's most desirable marques, including Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, and McLaren, but notably, there are no Ferraris in Leno's collection. He discussed this anomaly on an episode of his CNBC show, Jay Leno's Garage, saying that he simply, "never liked dealing with the dealers."

What is Jay Leno's net worth?

Anyone with such a huge garage must have earned a fortune just to keep every car maintained. Fortunately, Jay Leno's career of stand-up tours and TV contracts mean that he's more than able to foot the bill. It's thought that his net worth currently stands at around $450 million, with his annual income reported to be somewhere between $10 million and $15 million. He claims he has never spent a dollar of what NBC has paid him, instead living off the revenue from his standup shows and his car-related endeavors.

Perhaps this explains why, despite being so closely tied to his personal brand, his car collection only makes up a small fraction of his net worth. DuPont Registry estimates his collection to be worth roughly $52 million as of July 2022, although this figure seems very conservative since his 12 most expensive cars alone are estimated to be worth over $40 million. Still, if his collection is worth $52 million, that's only 8.65% of his total net worth, a much smaller figure than many people might think. Nevertheless, each of his 180+ cars comes with a fascinating backstory, with some even being one-offs that Leno has restored or commissioned himself. Here are 12 of his most prized cars, each one having been featured on his Jay Leno's Garage TV show or his YouTube channel over the years.

Lamborghini Miura S

The Lamborghini Miura is considered by many to be the first proper supercar, and it revolutionized the auto industry when it was first unveiled in 1966. Jay Leno owns two examples of the car: an early 1967 Miura, and a later 1969 Miura S. In an episode of his show, Leno describes his Miura S as "pretty well sorted," expressing his confusion over why the car has a reputation for being unreliable and bad to drive.

He claims he uses the car as a daily driver, yet its only modifications are a set of heavy-duty cooling fans because of the California heat. Leno has never revealed how much he paid for the car, but a similar Miura S from the same model year sold for £1.25 million ($1.49 million) at RM Sotheby's in 2019. Using a million-dollar classic Lamborghini as a daily driver sounds like an unthinkable thing to do, but Leno claims that regular use is the reason that his car is generally reliable, and the reason that other examples aren't is that they're stored away for long periods without being driven. Despite having so many cars, it seems like Leno has remained keen to ensure that they don't sit gathering dust, much to the delight of enthusiasts, and presumably, Burbank residents, who get a free car show almost every day.

American LaFrance Fire Truck

Many of the vehicles in Jay Leno's collection are ultra-rare and highly desirable among collectors, but his 1941 American LaFrance fire truck is a little different from the rest. He showed it off on an episode of Jay Leno's Garage, stating that he got the car for free from Burbank Airport, which is where his garage is located. The truck was originally bought new by Warner Bros Studios but was later sold to the airport for use in its fire department. After the truck reached the end of its service life, the airport parked it at the end of its runway as a sort of dust shield, leaving it abandoned for decades.

After changes in aviation rules were made in the wake of 9/11, the truck had to be cleared from the runway. Leno says the airport offered it to him free of charge, provided he could find a way to remove it. Leno's team hauled it back to his garage, and set about converting it into a motorcycle hauler. The truck's water tank was removed, and a cargo bed was put in its place. A lift gate was also installed in the rear of the truck so Leno could lift motorcycles directly into the truck bed at the push of a button. Strangely enough, despite being 80 years old, the LaFrance was never registered for road use, so Leno is the truck's first registered owner.

Mazda Cosmo 110S

The Mazda Cosmo was the first rotary-powered sports car, with a cutting-edge Wankel engine. The car was only ever sold domestically in Japan, and the example that Jay Leno owns is one of only three in the United States. He says he bought it from a collector who had bought it off a U.S. Army veteran. The veteran had been stationed out in Japan and brought the car back with him when he came back to the States. The car is cosmetically quite original, but Leno's team had to reconstruct many of the mechanical components, including most of the drivetrain.

When he bought the car, the engine was seized and heavily corroded, so Leno's team made the decision to swap in a Mazda 12A rotary, an engine that originally featured in cars like the RX-3 and first-gen RX-7. The carburetors, oil filter, and exhaust system are also all aftermarket or custom-made parts, and this was down to two reasons. Firstly, Leno wanted extra performance out of the car, and secondly, original parts are near-impossible to come by, especially in America. Original examples of the car are valued at around $100,000, but since Leno's uses so many non-standard parts, it may well be worth less than that. Of course, as with all of his other cars, it's very unlikely that he will ever put it up for sale.

Mercedes-Benz 600 Kompressor

Before his career as a standup comedian took off, Jay Leno used to work at a Mercedes-Benz dealership, and it was this period that kickstarted his passion for the brand's cars. The 600 Kompressor, in particular, is one of his favorite cars of all time, since he says it was "the only Mercedes-Benz machine built without regard to cost." It was the most expensive car in the world when it was unveiled in 1963, costing around $22,000, considerably more than a Rolls-Royce.

Leno describes how replacing a window switch in his car cost an eye-watering $11,500. This is because it is entirely hydraulically powered, using a system that's completely obsolete, and that only a few people in the world know how to work on. Examples of the 600 for sale vary wildly in price, from $80,000 up to more than $200,000 depending on the exact history and specification of the car. Leno's car is most likely worth something in the top end of that price range, having been meticulously restored by a 600 specialist in Wisconsin.

Porsche Carrera GT

Jay Leno bought his Porsche Carrera GT brand new in 2004 and has owned it ever since, but during that time, his opinion of it has been mixed. When he first bought the car, he says, he didn't drive it that much, as his TV commitments meant that he didn't have much spare time. Later, he took the car out on the road, but couldn't work out why it didn't feel right to drive. It turned out that the car's shocks had failed, and with them replaced, Leno says the Carrera GT was like an entirely new vehicle. Then, during another drive, the car unexpectedly stalled midway through a corner, causing Leno to nearly lose control. The issue was later traced back to a faulty connection with the car's battery.

Porsche invited Leno to an event in Florida with the aim of demonstrating its capabilities in front of the media. After over 25 laps of what Leno describes as, "high-190 mph driving," he dramatically lost control of the car on a straight, lifting his foot off the throttle at the wrong time and causing the car to spin half a dozen times before coming to a standstill. Thankfully, no one was injured and the car wasn't majorly damaged. However, despite all these mishaps, Leno insists that he now loves the car, calling it "the last proper analog Porsche" in the 2020 profile of the car on his YouTube channel.

McLaren F1

One of Jay Leno's most valuable vehicles, his McLaren F1 is also one of his favorites. With its innovative central seating position and almighty 620 horsepower BMW V12 engine, the F1 was crowned the fastest production car in the world in 1998. It would keep that title until seven years later, when the Koenigsegg CCR and Bugatti Veyron would both set new world records within just a few months of each other.

Buying an F1 today will cost somewhere in the region of $20 million, although Leno is thought to have paid a small fraction of that amount. He once called his F1, "the best investment [he] ever made." Although, there's almost zero chance that Leno will be selling his car anytime soon. During an episode of Jay's Leno's Garage on YouTube, the comedian joked about doing over 150 mph on public roads and not realizing it, because the car's capabilities distorted his sense of speed.

Mercedes-Benz Car Transporter

Nowadays, any performance car or other vehicle that gains a following is likely to be meticulously preserved by its manufacturer, stuck on display in a museum or stashed away in a private collection. But, back when the Mercedes-Benz race car transporter first got famous, that sense of nostalgia was not so present. The transporter was originally developed in the '50s as a way for Mercedes to quickly ship their cars back from the race track to the factory for overnight repairs. It featured the engine from the 300 SL Gullwing and was, at the time, the fastest car transporter in the world. But, a few years after it was taken out of service, the company decided it was taking up too much room, and crushed it.

After a public outcry, Mercedes later built an exact replica, which is now on display at their museum in Stuttgart. Jay Leno's version is another replica, originally starting as a custom project by a Swedish engineer. When Leno bought it, the transporter was undrivable, and so Leno's team redeveloped it with a better engine, suspension and modern amenities like air con. Leno now uses the truck to transport his Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, and says the truck draws one of the biggest crowds at shows out of any of his vehicles.

Hispano-Suiza V8

This unique car is a mash-up of WW1-era parts, and it features one of the biggest engines to ever be put into a car. It's powered by a monster 18.5L Hispano-Suiza V8 airplane engine, making roughly 300 horsepower. The car was found abandoned in Australia, then put up for auction at Pebble Beach in the '80s, where Jay Leno snapped it up. It took a lot of work for Leno's team to make it driveable, with the chassis needing to be strengthened, and the entire rear end needing to be rebuilt with parts from a period garbage truck.

It uses a bus transmission to send all that power to the wheels, according to Road and Track, and it can reach a top speed of 125 mph, which — given how bare-bones the car is — must be terrifying to drive at full pelt. Just starting the car is a trial in itself, as it needs eight gallons of oil, some of which needs to be manually sprayed into certain components before the starter will ignite. Still, get it firing and this is a true one-of-a-kind vehicle with a deep, roaring exhaust note that fellow road users are sure to hear from a mile away.

Packard Caribbean '56

One of his more recent purchases, Jay Leno never originally planned to buy a 1956 Packard Caribbean at all. He already owned a 1955 Caribbean, but it was unrestored, so the original plan was to have it restored to as-new condition. When he discovered that he could buy another Caribbean for the price that it would cost to restore his first, he decided to just buy another. His 1956 car is very rare, being one of only 15 made in black and white, and one of only around 290 cars made overall in that year.

The Caribbean came with some unique features, one of those being the reversible interior cushions, which were usually cloth on one side and leather on the other. The idea was that the cloth would be more comfortable for the evening, while the leather would be better for hotter weather. However, Leno says an unintended side effect is that the car is "like a pillow fight" under hard braking, with all the cushions flying everywhere. The second unusual feature is its self-leveling suspension, which used torsion bars to ensure that the car would be able to keep a smooth ride at all times. Leno demonstrates the system by sitting on the rear of the car, and lowering it, then after a short pause, the car's suspension kicks in to automatically adjust the car back to its original height.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Another of Jay Leno's most valuable cars, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, will usually run a buyer close to eight figures. Leno bought his from a storage unit in the Californian desert, and when he first acquired it, it needed a lot of work. In Popular Mechanics, Leno writes that almost every part of the drivetrain needed to be totally rebuilt, with several parts having to be ordered from Mercedes-Benz Classic Center at a considerable cost, even by his standards.

The restoration work went on for several years, although Leno was always keen to leave the car's imperfect interior and exterior as they were when he first bought the car. His reasoning for this was simple: he writes in Popular Mechanics that he, "like[s] not having to worry about a freshly sprayed, pristine paint job." It's not known exactly how much Leno paid for his car and how much cash went into restoration, but given that a rare prototype 300SL Gullwing recently set a record for the most expensive car ever sold, it's a fairly safe bet that he'd be able to make his money back.

GM EcoJet

Very few collectors can simply call up an automaker and ask them to make a new car, but Jay Leno is one of the few who is influential enough to make that happen. The first ideas for Leno's EcoJet were sketched out between himself and his chief engineer Bernard Juchli, and shortly after, Leno got in contact with General Motors to see what they could do. The car is a total one-off that's built on a Corvette Z06 chassis and features a 650-horsepower Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine.

It's a fully-functional road car and made its debut at the 2006 SEMA Motor Show in Las Vegas. The body is made out of carbon fiber and Kevlar, and it runs on biofuel, hence the "Eco" in its name. In 2016, Leno took Neil DeGrasse Tyson out for a high-speed test drive in the car for an episode of Jay Leno's Garage. Halfway through the run, the driver's window blew out, dramatically cutting the session short. As much as turbine-powered cars offer the potential for eco-friendly performance technology, even Leno has admitted that the car was such a hassle to develop that he sees no way the tech could be applied to production vehicles.

McLaren P1

With so many cars in his collection, it takes something very special for Jay Leno to be truly amazed. But, that's what happened when he took delivery of his McLaren P1, the first P1 on U.S. soil. He filmed a special episode of his YouTube series with McLaren's CEO Mike Flewett, and throughout the video, Leno was full of praise for the car. He describes it as "dancing down the road," claiming every bump or crack in the road is fed back to the driver, leading to a much more involving experience than many other modern hypercars.

Another point Leno makes about the P1 is its ability to seamlessly switch from road to track mode. He reports that the car is soft enough to be comfortable when driving long distances, but the instant it's switched to track mode, it's like a purpose-built racing car. He liked the car so much, in fact, that he put 880 miles on it within his first five days of ownership. That's high praise from a man with so many other fascinating cars in his garage. With Leno's penchant for buying unique vehicles showing no signs of slowing down, it seems likely that he'll have plenty more car stories to share with his audience soon.