1955 Hagerman Jaguar
Welcome to the Big Dog Garage
Somewhere in Southern California – a world of movies, magic, and make believe – is Jay Leno's Big Dog Garage, a place not without its fair share of magic itself. Spread across two low-slung buildings cooked by the sun, is one of the world's great car collections and one of the world's best-equipped garages custom-built from the ground up to keep everything running in tip-top shape.
The garage itself is about 17,000 square feet, sizeable, to say the least, for a private garage, which is enough space to work on about a dozen cars at any one given time. About a quarter of that space is taken up by the machine shop, which includes a massive amount of equipment. Cooking with Martha Stewart
Jay explains to Martha Stewart why safety goggles are required when crushing garlic. Since you can't exactly go down to the local auto shop for parts from pre-teen cars, the garage is geared up to fabricate parts and do just about all required work in house: a CNC Mill, a water jet cutter, sheet metal equipment, a lathe, a regular mill, and welding equipment from Tig and Mig to name some shop highlights.
The garage is also home to a gourmet kitchen where Jay shows off his culinary skills for his staff and other visitors. Besides being an avid car collector and mechanic, Jay also likes to cook and can often be found preparing food, especially when on hiatus from The Tonight Show. The Collection
First and foremost, the garage is not a museum. Jay makes his purchases not as museum pieces, but because he enjoys driving the cars and motorcycles… all of them! From Stanley Steamers to Duesenbergs to McLarens, Jay and his collection are fixtures in the Southern California area and can often be spotted out for weekend rides – and the occasional breakdown on the side of the road. Stanley Steamers may be fun to drive, but 1906 technology isn't the most reliable in the world.
As a whole, the collection spans 100 years of automotive history. The oldest cars are a 1906 Baker electric car and a 1906 Stanley Steamer, while the newest is a 2006 Corvette. The collection also has a number of rare cars, such as a Monteverde, a Bugatti Atlantic, and a turbine motorcycle.
But perhaps the most special car in the collection is a 1955 Buick. Not only is it the first car Jay purchased, it was the car he came to California in. On top of that, it was also his apartment on wheels. As a struggling comic in Los Angeles, Jay often slept in the car in alleyways next to comedy clubs. He never sold the car and, like all the other cars in his collection, he takes it out for a spin from time to time. And why wouldn't he? A couple years ago, Jay's mechanical whizzes hotrodded it with a hot motor, a big-block engine, and Corvette suspension. Not too shabby for a struggling comic. Keeping Things Humming
To keep everything in proper running order, Jay employs a crack team of mechanical wizards who are adept at fixing, restoring, and customizing just about every type of vehicle imaginable.
Bernard Juchli, a Swiss-born raconteur whose first ambition was to fly airplanes, heads the team. In 1965, he moved with his parents to Southern California where he went to high school and became immersed in the local car culture, racing both cars and motorcycles. For years, Bernard owned a Jaguar shop in the Bay Area. He's an amateur, and sometime professional, racer with a reputation for speed. When he was getting ready to semi-retire and sell his shop, he received a call from Jay Leno and has been Jay's head mechanic now for over six years.
Rounding out the crew is an engineer who fabricates most of the parts and an expert body man who does all the bodywork, metal work, finishing work, and paint.
Inspired by their own love of cars and Jay's incredible collection, these men are three of the automotive world's unsung heroes. To paraphrase an old saying… it's a great job and someone has to do it!