For car enthusiasts and fans of late-night television, Jay Leno needs no introduction. The comedian, actor, and former host of The Tonight Show has been a fixture in the entertainment industry for decades. But many people may not know that Leno is also an avid collector and lover of cars. His passion for automobiles is so great that he has a web series and television show dedicated to showcasing his extensive collection and exploring the world of cars.
Leno’s impressive and ever-growing car collection has more than 180 cars and 160 motorcycles worth between $52 million and $100 million as of 2023. We have extensively covered many of his vehicles, from vintage and rare classics to fast and cutting-edge sports cars. But we can’t seem to get enough of it and have curated a list of some badass muscle cars that Jay Leno owns.
8 1966 Dodge Coronet Hemi
Dodge offered the Hemi-powered ’66 Coronet as a specially ordered car by performance buyers, and it is today one of the most underappreciated American muscle cars of all time. Leno’s 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 is all about simplicity and comes stripped down of unnecessary options like scoops, stripes and wings, and only sports bucket seats and a console shifter.
It looks like your average coupe, but under the hood lies a honking 426 Hemi V8 engine pushing close to 500 hp. It has a mean dark metallic green paint and sounds terrific as it chirps the tires while going into second gear in one of Leno’s recorded drives.
7 1971 Dodge Challenger Hemi
When Leno went to pick up his brand-new Challenger Hellcat in 2008, he pulled up in style in his classic 1971 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. They sure make great companions in his garage, and the classic Challenger Hemi has plenty to admire.
It came equipped with the powerful 426ci V8 and several performance upgrades, including heavy-duty suspension and brakes, a four-speed manual transmission, and a limited-slip differential. And it had the looks with its long hood, short deck and aggressive stance. Only 71 Challengers received the Hemi treatment in 1971, making this one of the rarest cars in Jay Leno’s garage and one of the most iconic gifts of the American muscle car golden era.
6 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat delivers 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of Mopar muscle from its 6.2-liter Hemi engine. It drives as bonkers as its numbers suggest, with the ability to run the quarter mile in 10.8 seconds on drag radials. It looks the part while shredding the tracks with its aggressive, wide-body styling.
Leno acknowledges that the 1971 Challenger was the scariest car in the world when he was a kid, but it comes nothing close to the 2015 Challenger Hellcat. Luckily, he owns both, and he often treats fans to smoky burnouts with the powerful modern muscle car whenever he gets the chance.
5 1975 Custom Plymouth Duster
Leno owns a modified version of the 1975 Plymouth Duster, a car he holds close to his heart. He inherited it from master mechanic and race car driver Paul Annunziata before he died after fighting lung cancer. Paul wanted to ensure his supercharged 1975 426 Hemi-powered Duster went to a good home.
Paul put heavy modifications on his dream car to try and get the massive Hemi in the engine compartment. It found a suitable spot in Jay Leno’s garage, and Leno has ensured the car is in a roadworthy condition with upgrades like a bigger radiator.
4 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona
The 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was a special edition of the Charger designed specifically for NASCAR racing, with a distinctive aerodynamic design including a high rear wing and a long nose cone. It broke records by becoming the first NASCAR racer to record a race lap at over 200 mph.
Leno owns one of these classic muscle cars restored to its original condition. Under the hood, the Dodge Charger Daytona hides a 440ci V8 engine and represents an era of automotive history when high-performance cars ruled the roads and inspired a generation of car enthusiasts.
3 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT marked almost four decades since muscle car enthusiasts had seen a new Dodge Challenger; the second-generation Challenger was practically a re-badged variant of the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda Coupe. Leno went for the top-of-the-line model, the SRT8, with a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 engine making 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.
But in 2015, Leno auctioned the Challenger SRT8 for charity, raising more than $500,000 for the USO, just before buying the 2015 Challenger Hellcat.
2 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
To celebrate 50 years since Carroll Shelby spun the original GT350, Ford built 137 Mustang Shelby GT350 in 2015. Just 37 of these came in the more hardcore GT350R variant, and Jay Leno was one of its lucky owners. Both models share the same engine, but the GT350R comes better armed with a few extras for track duty.
Leno praised the car’s high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 engine, which he described as a “throwback” to the classic muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s and the best American engine when it came out. Furthermore, it featured track-ready performance and was not just a straight-line performer like its classic siblings.
1 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Few cars hold more historical significance than the 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, which was the first result of the successful collaboration between two automotive icons, Ford and Shelby. They designed the car as a track-oriented performance car, which was very successful in SCCA racing.
The GT350 is one of the first cars to define the muscle car genre, and is easily the most valuable muscle car in Jay Leno’s garage. Shelby built just 562 GT350s in 1965, and today, a 1965 GT350 in good condition fetches about $300,000, with Concours-ready cars commanding about double that figure.
Sources: The Drive, Top Speed, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hagerty, Mecum Auctions