Jay Leno Reveals Why He Purchases Cars for Their Backstory

by Blake Ells

Longtime late-night television fixture Jay Leno joined the Cars and Culture podcast with Jason Stein to talk about his favorite hobby. Everyone knows he’s a gearhead. He says that he purchases classic vehicles for their backstory.

“The story is usually what you wind up buying,” he says. “I’ve got a ’67 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron Coupe. It’s a dual air conditioning system. It’s not really my kind of car. But I get a call and hear, ‘Jay Leno. My name is Pipkin.’ Pipkin was his name. He’s like 93 years old. He says, ‘I can’t drive it anymore, but I’ve got a ’67 Chrysler Imperial that I bought brand new and I want to sell it to you.'”

Jay Leno continues talking about his encounter with “Pipkin.”

“I said, ‘Well, alright, how much do you want for it?'” he recalls. “He says, ‘I want $16,000.’ And that was a lot of money. I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m not really looking…’ I’m trying to hem and haw. He says, ‘No, you gotta see it. It’s a one-owner car.’ He says, ‘I’ve had it serviced by a guy from Chrysler who would come to my house every month to service the car. To check it out.’ I say, ‘Well that sounds interesting. Where do you live?” ‘Sunset Boulevard. Beverly Hills.’ I say, ‘Oh. He’s, like, two miles from my house.’ I go, ‘Alright, what’s the number?’ I was hoping it would be San Francisco or someplace I couldn’t get to.”

Jay Leno Visits ‘Pipkin’ to Check Out His Chrysler

Jay Leno couldn’t refuse taking a look at the car when he realized it was close.

“So I drive down and I hit the gate opens,” he recalls. “You know, just like the movie Sunset Boulevard. I see that he’s got a smoking jacket and an ascot. He’s got the white hair. He’s got another white-haired guy with him. He says, ‘Jay, this is my mechanic from Chrysler. He wants to retire. He’s 72 years old now.’ I say, ‘Okay, let’s take a look at the car.’

“Pipkin” invited Jay Leno into his home and wanted to show him around. Leno recalls that he learned that the man was a film producer that “made African-American films for African-American audiences.” He had made films that were “the black James Bond” and “the black Gene Autry.” His work was featured in theaters when they were segregated. Finally, Pipkin shows him the vehicle which Leno recalls is “just like the one Mr. Drysdale drove in The Beverly Hillbillies. Pipkin then tells Leno that if he buys the car, he has to take everything that goes with it.

“He opens the door next to it and he’s got spare bumpers, spare fenders, extra windshield wipers,” Jay Leno recalls. “He bought everything he needed in case the car was ever damaged. Okay, well now I have to buy this car. 144,000 miles on it. Runs like a top. You put the dual air conditioners on, it actually snows in this car.”

“It was just such a fun story,” Leno concludes. “Those kind of things are interesting.”