BOCA RATON — Almost four years to the day after he signed off from the Tonight Show for the last time, Jay Leno is all about cars.
Which is why it’s only natural for Leno, 67, to be scheduled to be at the 12thAnnual Boca Raton Concours D’Elegance Feb. 23-25 at the chi-chi city’s Boca Raton Resort & Club.
The host of Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC, who owns 286 rare sets-of-wheels and counting, is supposed to judge the weekend’s vehicle beauty contest with Tim Allen, star of now defunct ABC sitcom Last Man Standing.
Clearly, the one celeb the collectors will have to convince isn’t Allen.
Leno knows his stuff. And he admits he’ll have to control his impulses to buy.
“I’m not gonna buy,” he said. “It’s called will power. There are showgirls in Vegas, and if I did anything more than looking, I could get in trouble. Same with cars.”
For a connoisseur of fine old Rolls-Royces, Leno sure seems to have an appreciation for today vehicles.
“The good news is that today’s cars are all pretty good,” he says. “Car manufacturers are so competitive there are no real lemons out there. Remember how you used to have to replace a muffler or a brake every other year? I have Bentleys from the 1920s with 300 nuts and bolts holding the water jacket. Now, the same part is held together with two nuts and bolts.
“If something goes wrong, it’s the electronics. Your Bluetooth isn’t synchronizing with the car. And that can be fixed in five minutes.”
As for any advice for folks coming to the Concours who might think about investing in old cars, go with your heart, Leno says.
“It’s not for everybody,” he says. “If a car you buy goes down in value, it’s depressing. And keep in mind that restoring a car will cost at least as much as buying it.
“But my advice is go with what you are passionate about, like the car your dad first let you drive. For me, it was a 1966 Ford Galaxy, and that’s what I’m driving now.”
Leno, however, is just as passionate about the future. He does own a Tesla with autopilot.
“I like progress,” he says. “It’s all good. Technology is here to help us.
“My cousin died 30 years ago after he fell asleep at the wheel and hit a tree.
“Now you see a car on the side of road after a crash that looks like a ball of steel, and a teenager standing next to it calling his dad on the phone because he wasn’t hurt.