Most Americans know Jay Leno as the late-night talk show host with razor-sharp wit and an acerbic sense of humor. Car aficionados, on the other hand, won't really pay attention to his comedy stylings. They're more fascinated by his absolutely massive car collection.
You see, Jay Leno has one of the largest car collections in Hollywood, and actively learns about each car that gets added to the collection. This ended up sparking a series called Jay Leno's Garage—a series totally dedicated to his car collection.
Over the years, Leno has featured a wide variety of different cars in his garage. Most people remember episodes like the McLaren F1, or his 1986 Lamborghini Countach. Not all of the cars featured are clear spotlight-stealers however. Here are some of the cars viewers may have missed.
The 1906 Stanley Steamer
One of the coolest cars in Jay Leno's Garage is one that is, for the most part, forgotten about. This car was built in 1906, and was designed to race in the Vanderbilt Cup. As beautiful as it was, the build and zippy speed wasn't what made this car so amazing.
It was the fact that the wooden car known as the Stanley Steamer ran on water, rather than gasoline. At its first debut on the show, the boiler blew up. Later on, Leno was able to fix and upgrade it with a 30-inch boiler.
With a top speed of 65 miles per hour, the Steamer remained a fan favorite that most people who never really studied cars never knew existed.
Randy Grubb's Decopods
As far as cars in Jay Leno's Garage go, most are pretty straightforward when it comes to being cars. They look like cars, they have four wheels, they go vroom, etc.
Then there are these things. Not quite bikes, but not quite cars, the Decopods were strange little vehicles that were created by Randy Grubb and inspired by the Art Deco movement.
Since these were initially meant to be Flash Gordon's vehicles, only a handful of these machines were made. As a result, they are some of the rarest machines ever featured on the show.
The 2012 Fisker Karma
At first glance, the 2012 Fisker Karma doesn't seem to be one of the most unusual cars in Jay Leno's Garage's run. However, there are a couple of things that make this car pretty darned unusual in its own right.
The most obvious thing is the car brand, which is Fisker. Fisker isn't an old brand, nor is it popular. It's about as indie as you can get for a car brand, with only a couple thousand cars ever really being sold per year.
Fisker's entire goal was to create electric hybrid vehicles, which it did. In many ways, it looked normal and acted normal; that is, until you notice the exhaust is under the driver's seat and that the entire body was aluminum.
The Chevy Vega
No one knows what year Leno's Chevy Vega was, but at one point, it was a resident of Jay Leno's garage at home. However, it's no longer a resident—nor would it have been memorable if it was featured on the show, either.
According to Leno, the Chevy Vega was the worst car he ever owned. The Vega was so poorly built, he bought one for $150. While his wife drove it, the bumper randomly fell off!
Even so, the car was remarkably unremarkable.
The 1929 Duesenberg Chassis
When it comes to car brands we wish would come back to life, Duesenberg stands at the top of the list with a bullet. Once the choice car of mafiosos and presidents alike, it's easy to see why Dusies were a favorite among the cars in Jay Leno's Garage.
That being said, most people think of Dusenberg Model J's—but what people don't realize is that Duesenberg also just sold separate chassis that could have bodies individually built around them.
This unique Duesenberg chassis was created with its own personalized body that was never completely built. As a result, it was not entirely a classic Duesenberg, but still remained a testament to Duesie quality.
The 1981 Zimmer Golden Spirit
The 1929 Duesenberg chassis proved that you can be one of the most obscure cars in Jay Leno's garage and still remain timelessly classy. This car, on the other hand, proves that being a visual train wreck can also cause you to become collectible in the long run.
Zimmer was a very short-lived automaker in the United States, and the Golden Spirit was its disastrous product. This... thing... had real trumpet horns sticking out of its grille, and a candelabra glued into the hood of the car.
That being said, it had celebrity fans—mainly Liberace. When Leno featured it on his show, he spent quite a while talking about how ridiculous it was and later punctuated it with calling it one of the worst cars he's ever driven.
The 2006 Ecojet
One of the few concept cars in Jay Leno's Garage was the 2006 Ecojet concept model. This concept car is one of the most impressive concept cars we wish were mass-produced, and not only because of its slick exterior design.
The Ecojet was cruelty-free, ran on biofuel, and was made to be as environmentally-conscious as possible. 650 horsepower and a high amount of torque made this an amazingly good ride that was enviably techy.
The 1963 Chrysler Turbine
Seeing a Chrysler on this list seems a bit strange considering that these are probably not associated with being among the most obscure cars in Jay Leno's garage. Chryslers are everywhere, right? Most Chryslers aren't even that powerful anymore; they're considered to be commuter cars, right?
Well yes—but most aren't built like this.
You see, what made the Chrysler Turbine so strange wasn't its body. It was powered by a legitimate jet engine, and could run on anything from perfume to diesel.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Is it a Mercedes, or is it a McLaren? If it's one of the cars in Jay Leno's Garage's coolest episodes, it could be both. This supercar was actually a joint project between two of the biggest car companies in the luxury market.
The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was actually one of Leno's favorite cars, and he readily admitted that it has the most miles out of all his supercars. Why? Because he legit loved driving it that much!
1966 NSU Spider
As far as obscurity and rarity goes, you can't get much more unusual than the 1966 NSU Spider. Often considered to be one of the quirkiest cars in Jay Leno's Garage, the NSU Spider was the first rotary-engine car to be sold to the public.
That being said, rotary engines didn't really catch on in the States, which led to the NSU never getting much of a demand here. It remained in Germany during its existence, then faded into the background.
Between the fact that it's from a car brand that never made it to the United States and its unusual engine setup, it's easy to see why few people ever really see an NSU Spider outside of Jay Leno's show.