My Car Quest

July 25, 2024

Editorial: The Multi-Car Collector

by Wallace Wyss –

By now everybody in the car collecting field knows Jay Leno, with over 160 cars in his garage (airplane hanger) had an accident when his 1907 White had a flash fire showering his face and arms with gasoline. A spark was emitted and the gas ignited. He says it is not major damage, which is good to hear.

We are a little surprised it happened in a steam car, not aware that the fire that warms the water to make steam uses combustible materials and even gasoline.

At any rate, I would expect a multi-millionaire (I have read his wealth is estimated at $500 million) like Leno would have:

— A roster of the current condition of each car, whether its latest problem has been fixed

— A DO NOT DRIVE sign posted on some cars to where the last problem is still awaiting some maintenance

— A full time fireman that is on duty when the cars are being maintained.

I have friends with 5 or 6 collector cars in storage and am shocked how many years go past before they get around to checking the hoses, fuel lines, gas tank, etc. Some dutifully start their car up and drive it once a month. Others go for years, not realizing that the car deteriorates.

In fact if some car collector invites me for a ride in a car he hasn’t driven for a few months, I might turn it down if I think his idea of keeping the car currently active is to lift the hood. You might be riding in The Fireball Express.

I only have one car right now so it has to be 100% reliable. But if I buy a collector car, after having it serviced, I will keep a diary of sorts saying when the cam drive belt or chain has to be checked, when the brakes need checking, etc.

Leno got off fairly lucky considering he makes most of his money with nightclub appearances. Presumably he will recover and can go back on the road doing comedy. But I am surprised he got caught by a car over 100 years old.

I don’t want to hear another car in his collection is out to get him. He’s got the money to keep track of each car. Spend it Jay.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss talks about new cars and collector cars as co-host on Autotalk, a weekly show broadcast out of KUCR FM Riverside, Ca.


Jay Leno and Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss and Jay Leno

Editorial: The Multi-Car Collector
Article Name
Editorial: The Multi-Car Collector
I don't want to hear another car in Jay Leno's collection is out to get him. He's got the money to keep track of each car. Spend it Jay.


  1. Jay was cleaning his fuel line, something pretty common among car owners and their vehicles. Jay is a true car guy as he is knowledgeable and can work on his own vehicles, so he reached in to do it himself like a good gearhead would. The vehicle did not catch fire, nor did anything else, just the fuel that splashed on him.

  2. wallace wyss says

    Technically correct. But working wit gasoline near where a spark could be created is dangerous. Maybe having driven my Mercedes out of a garage that caught on fire, I’m a little jumpy about the threat of gasoline being ignited outside the car.

  3. Richard A Bartholomew says

    I find it ironic that Jay knew the fire danger of this car so well and in an instant all that knowledge and experience literally goes up in smoke. Sorry for the pun Jay. I hope you recover fully and soon!
    I included a photo of Jay and his special Corvette in Malibu where I hope to see you both again soon.

  4. Why in the world you mix up the details of this accident with the details of his wealth? Seems like you are using all of this for your own benefit. Not a good idea. Not even new anymore. Not worthy of further comment.

    • I do appreciate Wally updating people on Jay since he’s an icon in our collector car realm. Too many mixed messages traveled too fast on social media so a good thing we can all check one another with details when we have them. I’m sure he meant no harm. Hug.

  5. In answer to Dan B. why bring in his net worth, that is merely to show it was not a matter of lack of funds that he thought (he may have changed his mind) an on duty house fireman was not necessary. It reminds me of the situation with Alec Baldwin, having an amateur in charge of gun safety during the filming of a Western shoot-up. So what I’m recommending is the appointment of a “range safety officer” who checks each car’s condition before it can be taken out for a joy ride. Since the collection is used in a TV show, the salary of such a person is a write-off so there’s no reason not to appoint one.

  6. Perhaps similar to a car museum curator, but with mechanical expertise. Perhaps an excel spreadsheet log is kept and vehicles are routinely fired up, inspected, repaired if necessary, then noted in the log? Is that what you’re thinking? What a gem that individual would be to find.

  7. wallace wyss says

    If he doesn’t have what Cindy describes, he needs it because I know when he invites visitors who are not car people, their eyes frequently light upon a car they always liked and point to it and say “Ohh, a ___________, I always wanted to ride in one,” so he gets the keys, But what if it hasn’t been driven for a year?

Speak Your Mind