Leno: Stop worrying about the fate of your classic car


Years ago, my wife and I sold our house in Nichols Canyon, just up the hill from downtown Hollywood. A woman came in with a child and made an offer that was less than what we were asking. Mavis and I talked it over and decided to sell it to this single mom even though we had higher offers. And since we had never cleaned the curtains while we lived there, we sent them out and had them cleaned, just so the house would be nice for the new owner. About a month after the sale, we went by the house to see how the mom was doing. We got there just as the bulldozer was leveling it. Turns out the single mom worked for a Realtor, and she went around buying properties to be flipped. I felt pretty stupid, but what could I do? No law was broken.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/07/26/leno-stop-worrying-about-the-fate-of-your-classic-car


**Very good, Jay. I buy my cars because they are various highlights of the years i have grown up. Although each is nearly perfect, I love driving every one of them for what they are…no favorites, just emotionally attached to each.


Hey Jay! I’d assumed that when the time comes and you are hiking up that stairway to heaven your auto collection will be rolling into the Petersen Antique Auto Museum. Not true?

-Steve in Seattle


Nice philosophy and I enjoy you sharing your honest stories. I started a Corvette collection. My plan was to have 1 of each year or at least one of each generation. I had a 56, a 63 split window with factory air, a 82 collector edition, a 84 painted with Domino’s livery for the manager of the month (I was a franchisee), and an 86 Pace car convertible. All on trickle chargers ready to drive. Then divorce came and the cars went.


Jay Leno has to be one of the wisest and most squared away people in Hollywood. Old cars are a source of enjoyment both for owners and those who see them. But they’re not somehow sacred relics which must be preserved at all costs. Better to use and enjoy them, and use them for the purpose for which they were intended!


Great advice Jay. I had that conundrum whether I should sell, keep or pass on my '72 Datsun 240z that I purchased new in '72. It’s in showroom (Concourse) condition and I have won numerous awards. Your insight has given me direction…Thanks Jay!


Gr8 advice Mr Leno…and to the rest of u out there…u really didn’t know this already?..enjoy wat u have. Rid ourselves of envy pride etc. I enjoy my truck, accords mini blazer and my SMART…yup a Smart the same way jay n whom ever else enjoys their lambs, Ferrari, McLaren etc. Wrenching on them, the interior/ exterior accessories etc. Driving them that sense of accomplishment. (When everything comes out right). Car guys car people…just drive while ur ALIVE…


About 30 years ago I began collecting and restoring cars. In the beginning I was fussy about the weather and the paint and pretty much anything that might hurt my car…including simply driving it. One day I encountered an older gentleman and we talked about why I was afraid to drive my cars. One question he asked changed my entire attitude. “Who you saving your car for?” was all he asked. From that moment on my attitude did a 180 degree about face. I realized I was denying myself the pleasure of owning and driving my cars. I began not only taking my cars to shows and cruise-ins but if it was a nice day I’d drop the top on the '57 Chevy convertible and drive it hen I went grocery shopping. In fact every collector car I’ve ever owned has hauled bags of dog food home in its trunk. Occasionally I’ve picked up a small rock chip in the paint but I don’t panic. That’s the next owner’s problem. At 70 years old I have become that old guy that asked me the question “who you saving it for?”. I now ask that same question of anyone I meet who is fretting about that single stray cloud in the sky on an otherwise beautiful day.


So true for me too! I love driving my 62 Apache. My husband says that he loves to ride in the truck with me driving it because I drive it as it should be driven. I think he’s worried that it might get damaged when he drives it. I used to be ultra careful and worried about my vehicles, but now I have learned to fully enjoy them. The truck seems to give other people so much pleasure too! People are always telling me stories about someone in their family who had a truck like that. It’s so cool!


My antique truck gets used to haul materials for projects around the house and as a daily driver. I have a classic motorcycle that I had rebuilt and reasonably restored, but now I realize it’s just not practical. So, I’m going to find it a new home where someone will hopefully ride it. I can’t stand seeing it just sitting there.


Such excellent advice from Mr. Leno and the other commentors. I have gone the same route as most of the others–the 100-point car sitting in the garage to be detailed and driven to a show 2 times a year once it is completed. The insurance is not expensive, the space in the garage is there, and the great car brings you many comments and much happiness…well, until you can’t get THAT BOLT out and you skin your knuckles, but that’s all part of the deal. Now that I am old, I wanted a Corvette to drive around but found out that this is not possible. Owners want HUGE money for them–one was $3 million dollars! The run-of-the-mill “drivers” are $80-$100K each and there are THOUSANDS for sale every day–supply-demand rules DO NOT apply to Corvettes, so get used to it!

I went to a local museum where the owner is a Corvette fan. He has ROWS AND ROWS of beautiful Corvettes–must be over 50 of them or more. I was wondering who drives them, etc. Yes, he has full time help keeping them happy, but he has hundreds of other muscle cars from all years. Admission is only a few dollars, so I assume he uses his own money to keep things going. Now that he is older, I was also wondering what would become of the cars and the museum once he is gone. To me, it is a shame that 50+ beautiful Corvettes, not to mention the hundreds of other cars in his and other museums across the world, sit around all the time. Sure, it is great to be able to pay a few dollars and see them all–it is a true experience for any car person, but I am at the age where I just want one to DRIVE around. Of course, the Corvettes in this museum are way too expensive for me to own, but there are people like Jay who would love to own and drive them. It is a real dilemma…great to be able to see them but if they were not parked in a big building we might see them driving around, right? Another hobby conundrum, I guess, but I agree with the other posters…have a plan for your car(s) when you are gone. (I am open to taking a C2 or C3 off your hands if you just HAVE to get rid of it!)


I have a small collection of vehicles and I agree with Jay Leno’s philosophy…I drive each car a few days and then switch to another ! I enjoy the different features of each.


I was an independent auto damage appraiser for many years. Once I looked at a Porsche show car that had some very minor damage - forget what it was. The car had a $20,000 custom stereo system in it that I don’t think had ever been turned on. The owner would have it trucked to a car show and then trucked back, have it professionally detailed and then “bagged” - put inside a hermetically sealed bag - until the next car show. I don’t think the car had ever been driven more than 100 feet or taken out of first gear. What a waste. I applaud the new trend of leaving old cars in a state of arrested decay, and driving them.


The fact that you and your wife decided to favor a single Mom is still a “star in your crowns” that is not diminished by the lack of the realtor’s disclosure of her plans. You are both an inspiration to all of us old car fanatics. My 1949 Cadillac convertible is happily taking me to the grocery store, the hardware store, and all around wine country. Then it gets cleaned up and goes to concours and local car shows.


Now how do I go about this since I have five cars to be concerned with. Three get a lot of attention, one a little, and the big Merc almost nothing. Now since I have another 20+ years to enjoy my cars I intend to do so. However, now and then people would stop when driving by in the past and ask if anything was for sale. I’d look them over, recognize them for what they were, and say too expensive for you. See the Mustang that would be $20,000 and their eyes would say no. It was then when I would tell them I make all the profit and if you want a profit you will have to hold the car for 10 years afterwards. Then I moved to a court and have no more drive by gawkers. Thank you…

Just saw a 1972 El Camino today and talked to the mid-70’s owner and asked him ih he gets pestered. He sure does and blows them all off as no one will get his baby.


I have a 1963 1/2 Ford Galaxie 500 HT Fastback. 390 cu.in. auto tranny. Have owned it for 31 years now and I’ve put about 45,000 miles on it and enjoyed every mile. Yeah, I had a couple minor breakdowns but was always able to get the problem fixed on the road. (not like todays cars) I might sell it one day or if I pass on before that, someone like my son or daughter might inherit it or they can sell it. Nothing I can do about it after I’m gone. So not to worry, you just enjoy driving it while we are on this earth for the very short time. Remember, your classic car or cars will most likely outlast most of us old car guys. Can’t take them or the money value with us to the grave.


@mmcd7276 - I’m little saddened by your perspective. Judging those who are interested in your cars just on sight and then turning them away because they don’t fit the mold you believe should own your precious cars.

Shouldn’t you be taking those persons interest and allowing them to get excited about classics? more people interested is better for all of us who are in this hobby. maybe they can’t buy your cars, but you can share your knowledge of what to look for on the car they like or how to find one as good as yours.


You need to learn to read people. These people were not interested in the cars for the cars themselves. They were interested in the cars because they represented money. It isn’t hard to spot a flipper if you listen closely to them. Of course, it is made very easy when the first thing out of their mouths is not what a nice car but are any of these cars for sale.


Just like many of you, you can have seller’s remorse when you are lucky enough to pick a car that’s value goes through the roof before or after you sell the car. A couple things to keep in mind.

  1. The money you sold the house, excuse me, the car for, went to other priorities (house, car, bills, etc…)
  2. Just think of the people who wish they had a chance to drive and/or the memories of the car you owned and drove for how many days or years?
  3. If you bought a car mainly for investment, that was a mistake.
    A very good friend, one of the top restoration people I have had the pleasure to know, caught me by surprised with a comment I never forgot. This friend loved to restore cars and made some good money and memories doing it. He said he could not wait to see one of the cars I have owned, back on the road. I asked why. He said, of the great cars he restored, showed and usually made money on, he very seldom drove and enjoyed the cars the way I did.
    When you decide to sell your home or car, get what you can. You can easily do background checks on the buyer but after the buyer(stranger, friend, children or grandchildren), owns the car, your great memories are all you should have control of.
    Enjoy what the vehicle was created for. If you have enough money to also make them a perfect piece of art, consider yourself lucky.
    After a number of years I have found that only one in 30 children of a car lover or collector have a passion for cars or for whatever the parent is collecting.
    I have also found that 1 in 6 grandchildren do pick up some or most of the grandparents passion for cars.


Great philosophy I learned the hard way. I have a very rare color combo (only one I’ve ever felt found) heavily optioned ‘68 Camaro RS Convertible with 50k miles, zero rust, 100% numbers original, blah blah… everything a collector looks for. It is the LEAST FAVORITE car I’ve ever owned. I don’t drive it for fear of putting on miles on or getting the under carriage dirty or a scratch or chip. it’s been my non-numbers matching corvettes and now a kit car that I truly enjoy — because I drive them every chance I get! Rain, snow, etc — I drive them, I enjoy them and my kids could care less so I know they are not legacy. Thats the joy side and it should not feel like a burden.