Bonding with your car is all about the effort you put into it


I wrote in the January/February issue of Hagerty that new cars have never been better, and I’m optimistic for the future. Why? Just look how far we’ve come. In 1949, you bought a Rolls-Royce, and it had a six-cylinder engine, a manual transmission, an AM tube radio, and no air conditioning. Now a Toyota Corolla has 10 times the features, and it goes faster, stops better, uses less fuel, makes less pollution, is safer in an accident, and comes in nine colors. You used to need 750 horsepower to win the Indy 500; now you can get that much in a Corvette, and it comes with a factory warranty. And I believe the best years are still coming.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/03/20/how-jay-leno-bonds-with-his-cars


Great points Jay, automotive technology has come so far that it seems cars made within the last 15yrs are purposely designed to have to go to a factory authorized dealer for servicing/fixing a major component when something breaks. Standard maintenance, sure you can still DIY, and I agree an sense of satisfaction comes with finishing the job.

I particularly like your story about helping the “stranded” BMW driver using his situation to pass on basic automotive knowledge and show him the way to realization that he actually wasn’t stranded at all, just uninformed. Kudos to you for being a great steward and teacher of the hobby.


No question that bonding with your car is about the effort placed in learning about it from top to bottom, wrenching on it however you can and taking pride in it.
Like you mentioned about the Valiant & your mother, just knowing something may get you out of a tough spot.
Having been in the rental industry for over 25yrs, the absolute ineptitude of the motoring public as a whole is on full display every single day with local and airport lots nationwide serving as the live action motion picture of automotive insanity . From leaving lights on, not knowing how to depress the brake pedal to move from park, popping the hood to release the emergency brake, can’t figure out how to adjust a seat or steering wheel… it’s no wonder we trust anyone driving on the streets with just a license !

Jay, wonder how you feel about new cars being delivered with out spare tires? Try bonding with a bottle of Green Slime on the 101?
Just ask AAA how they feel about the increase calls as a result and a cap on service now.


I spent several years restoring a '71 Duster, why a Duster? Like most of us we long to own our first car again in later years and I am no exception. I did nearly everything on that car and knew it front, back and sideways. Because it was modified your ingenuity and problem solving skills are often stretched to the limit, however the reward and satisfaction can not be measured.

Alas, in a weak moment I sold the car I had a love-hate relationship with and bought a modern muscle car. Very soon after I gave in to the urge to wrench and began to modify my new baby, and learn about it front, back and sideways.

The satisfaction is just as good, but I do miss the classic.


Whoa, pump the breaks. Common sense would have you believe that the BMW guy walked away with some sense of accomplishment but I’m not so sure about that.
Just the other day my neighbor (a doctor) was complaining about having to pay $400 to service his lawnmower for the season, mainly change the oil. It was a simple task really, the filter was exposed and only required laying on your back with a socket, no jack or jack stand required. This was truly a 10 minute deal.
Believe me, it took more time explaining and instructing him at what to do then anything else. When all was said and done I asked him if he thought that what we did was worth $400 bucks and without hesitation he said yes.
In the end I was the one that was disappointed in the fact that he could not appreciate the simpleness of the work even though he just saved himself $380. And, what’s more I doubt that he will ever do it again.
My point is, what connections we old school wrenchers have with our cars, for the most part lives and will die with us.


Great artical Jay! My 1st car was a 1970 Plymouth Duster and the best thing about it is, I still have it! It’s been heavily modified over the years and about 90% of those mods were by my own hands.

I also own a 2014 Dodge Challenger “Shaker” Truly a fantastic car. The features this car has to offer would’ve been considered science fiction in 1970. Just the idea that I would be able to buy a Hemi Challenger in 2014 would’ve been unbelievable back in the late 70’s.

In my eyes, I have the best of both worlds and I enjoy working on both. The Challenger is a bit scary at first. The Duster has dual 4 barrel carbs that I can tune with my eyes closed but the Challenger? Not as confident yet but I’m getting there!


Thank you. I’ve had these exact same unorganized thoughts for sometime. Just unable to articulate them. And as for the owner who waxes nastalgic over the cars he spent and suffered for…boy am I “that guy”. Probably just like the old man that I am, but also worry about the sophistication of the newer cars and the ability for anyone to own them once off warranty.