Jay Leno hosted a group of gear heads at his Burbank garage last week. He wanted to show off the cream of his car and motorcycle collection, and to hawk new products.
Called Jay Leno’s Advanced Vehicle Care, it’s the first branded retail product line to emerge from Leno’s passion for vintage vehicles, and from his long-running “Jay Leno’s Garage” TV and Internet series.
The car collector, comedian and former late-night TV host spent two hours leading a small audience around the massive compound, which sits just off a Hollywood Burbank Airport runway.
Here was his favorite car, a McLaren F1 British racer. There was his oldest, a Stanley steam-driven car from 1906.
In another room stood the 1955 Buick Roadmaster that was Leno’s first California car purchase. (He paid $350, slept in it while he looked for an apartment and later took his wife-to-be on dates in it.)
Comedian and car aficionado Jay Leno pauses inside his Big Dog Garage, which houses an extensive, collection of historical cars and motorcycles, in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Collectible cars are lined up in Jay Leno’s garage in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
A Web series, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” is coming to CNBC, during which comedian and car aficionado Jay Leno will take viewers inside his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif., and on various vehicular adventures.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Comedian and car aficionado Jay Leno is photographed inside his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
An orange Lamborghini Miura and a red Lamborghini Countach are two of the more than 140 cars in the extensive collection owned by comedian and car aficionado Jay Leno, inside his Big Dog Garage, in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Jay Leno’s collection also includes 117 or so motorcycles.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Some of the memorabilia inside comedian and car aficionado Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage, which houses an extensive collection of cars and motorcycles in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
A Hudson, left, and a Buick are two of the more than 140 cars in Jay Leno’s extensive collection housed as his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Car buff Jay Leno stops for a photo inside his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Vintage autos are lined up in Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Jay Leno checks out an entirely rebuilt 1914 Baker electric car, which is being retrofitted with a converted battery system from a Nissan Leaf.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Jay Leno looks out at his Big Dog Garage in Burbank, Calif.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
In yet another is an assembly of Brough Superior motorcycles — more than a dozen of them — that in the 1920s were the world’s most desirable two-wheeled machines. (That’s what T.E. Lawrence was riding when a crash cost him his life.)
“It’s like having every girl you ever went out with in high school, all in the same room,” Leno said of his collection, which consists of cars and motorcycles kept in constant readiness to drive and ride. “And they all look the same, and they’ll always look the same.”
Guiding around his selfie-snapping fans, Leno seemed to have a complete back story for every vehicle, and a quick quip for every topic.
Self-driving cars: “Most cars are driving themselves already,” he said. “I mean, look around. People are putting on makeup and eating a sandwich. Nobody’s driving these cars now.”
Cross-country “Cannonball Run” events: “I don’t like those things,” he said. “You don’t want to be some rich guy racing across the country. Someone’s going to run into a school bus full of nuns and ruin the sport for everyone.”
Electric cars, and their advertised ranges: “They say it gets 50 miles,” he said. “But electric cars, it’s like sex. Nobody ever tells the truth about it. None of them get the range they advertise.”
Leno said he’d long resisted putting his name on car care products. But after spending 10 years developing this line of polishers, rubs and waxes, he said, he thought he might have made a mistake.
“The right way to do this is find a company and have them give you a big check to endorse their product,” Leno said. “Then there’s the stupid way. That’s what we did.”
Leno worked mostly with Jeremy Porrazzo, who for more than a decade had been Leno’s car cleaning specialist.
Years before, Porrazzo had offered to come into Leno’s garage during his spare time, to polish and clean Leno’s collection of 160 cars and 130 motorcycles — for free.
He was hoping the car legend would help him launch a brand of car cleaning products.
Two years later, Leno offered him the official car-polishing gig. When the former TV host began asking Porrazzo how he made his cleaning compounds, the new company was born.
“That was always the endgame,” Porrazzo said. “To get a branded product out there with Jay’s name on it.”
The line is composed of 14 different vehicle care products, with another six more on the way, said the company’s marketing director, Chris Walters.
Unlike similar lines, these are color coded, inside the bottles as well as on the labels — orange for quick detailing, blue for hand wax, red for vehicle wash — for easy identification. All the formulas and mix designs were developed in-house.
Available online only via Leno’s “Garage” website, the products range in price from $9.99 to $17.99 a bottle.
Leno’s favorite? “The metal polish,” Porrazzo said. “He goes through a half-gallon of it at a time.”
Leno joked that the products are offered with very little markup, “which is the other stupid way to do it.”
A Leno representative said the military service organization USO, one of the comic’s favorite charities, would be among the beneficiaries of every product sale.
Video: Go inside Leno’s garage