Most of the world may know Jay Leno as the former host of The Tonight Show but around these parts, he's arguably more famous for being a bona fide and professional lover of automobiles. After retiring from the talk show game, he now keeps busy with his CNBC car show, Jay Leno's Garage and he's also celebrated as one of the most prolific car collectors on the planet. The exact number of cars in Jay Leno's literal garage surely fluctuates frequently but, according to a duPont Registry list posted last year, Jay owns 181 cars in addition to 160 motorcycles.
Despite the vast collection, the late-night icon apparently does not have any Ferraris and there's a reason for that: He cannot stand the hoops Ferrari dealerships make customers jump through to gain the privilege of owning a car from Maranello. It's a bit of an open secret that Ferrari can be difficult to deal with unless you're a longtime, paid-up member of the Tifosi with multiple Ferraris in your car ownership history.
Speaking to Cars and Culture with Jason Stein, Leno explained, "I just never liked dealing with the dealers. I don't wanna give a guy 25 grand in an envelope, y'know. I don't wanna have to buy two Mondials..." What's extremely interesting here is that Jay uses the Ferrari Mondial as an example, a car produced by Ferrari from 1980 to 1993, which tells me two things: Jay has held this view for literal decades and Ferrari has been operating this way for at least as long.
He then compared Ferrari's "prove your worth" approach to archrival McLaren's vastly more customer-friendly attitude.
"The smart thing about McLaren is the dealer service. I bought my McLaren, I paid exactly the sticker, buying it was a terrific process. I had the car [for] six or seven months, my MP4-12C. And they called me one day and said, 'Oh, there's an upgrade from 592 horsepower to 617. You want the upgrade?' I said, 'Well, how much is it?' and they said 'It's free.'"
He goes on to tell another anecdote about the time a McLaren salesperson talked him out of carbon brakes because they were arguably unnecessary for street driving, saving Leno $20,000. The Ferrari dealership experience, in contrast, Jay likens to BDSM. "It's like rich guys that go to a dominatrix. 'Oh, she kicked the crap out of me, it was fantastic.' That's great, I mean, some guys like that."
That's not to say Leno doesn't admire the cars themselves. "They're excellent cars. This is not an indictment of the car, it's just that you're spending a tremendous amount of money. You should be made to feel like a customer."
The average car enthusiast like you or I may not have anywhere near the number of cars that Jay Leno has but it's oddly heartwarming to learn that "eff car dealers" is a sentiment that can truly transcend tax brackets.
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