Jay Leno: The Collector

Jay Leno: The Collector

I got to thinking about the cars my dad had when I was growing up. I was born in 1950 and came home from the hospital in a '49 Plymouth. We had that car until 1957. Nothing special: six cylinders, four doors, and mohair upholstery that, when it got damp, smelled like a wet dog. To this day, when I go to a car show and find a '49, '50, '51 Plymouth with an original interior, the first thing I do is smell it and all those memories come rushing back.

We traded it in at Crabtree Motors in New Rochelle, NY. I was only six years old but I remember my dad bought a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere and that was a four door, with the big fins and a 318 in it. I remember sitting on dad's lap and holding the steering wheel. Back then it was common for a seven-year-old to sit on his dad's lap and have a hand on the steering wheel and blow the horn and all that stuff. It was thrilling. It was the greatest thing in the world.

We had that until 1964 when dad bought a Ford Galaxie. I know this because I had a pet lizard and when we moved from NY to Boston we stopped to have lunch and put my lizard on the back shelf. It was a hot day and my lizard roasted to death in the car. It was a chameleon. My mother saw it and got rid of it. She told me it ran off to live on a farm.

The Galaxie was a four-door with bucket seats and a 390ci engine. Now the cars were starting to get interesting. I was 13-1/2 when we got that one. I was soon driving. When I was 14-1/2 I bought a '34 Ford truck for cheap and would practice going up and down the driveway. We had a 350-foot driveway because we were set so far back from the road. I must have done 70 or 80 miles going up and down that driveway.

You could get your driver's permit at 15-1/2 in New England. The worst age was being 15

Published Dec 7th, 2015