Jay Leno is already restoring the car that burned him

Jay Leno's Garage

In what appears to be the first video Jay Leno has filmed since a motorcycle accident hospitalized him back in January, the comedian goes into details of the bike crash and shares his plans for the 1910 White steam engine that sent him to a Los Angeles burn center in November. There’s good news, however, both for Leno and each of those vintage vehicles.

Jay likes to release a shop update like this on his YouTube channel, Jay Leno’s Garage, every few months. He’ll use the video to track several of his long-term restoration projects and share the adventures of keeping obsolete technology roadworthy. Jay doesn’t dabble in common repair jobs, either. For instance, he and his team are fabricating parts from scratch to restore one of the few remaining Duesenberg engines, one of the engineering marvels of America’s pre-WWII era.

The nice thing about handmade car parts, according to Leno, is that the most important part of the fabricating process—a craftsman’s hands—hasn’t changed. Even if you can’t buy the part anymore, “you can still make it.” That resourceful approach to the old-car hobby is what allows Leno to enjoy his cars and motorcycles out on the road … even when things don’t work out so well.

Those who follow Leno’s adventures know it was only a few months ago that he was seriously burned when one of his steam cars sprayed him with “a face full” of gasoline, which then caught fire. Weeks after healing from the skin grafts, Leno was back on stage—and behind the wheel of his Tesla. Just a few months later, as he was riding his 1940 Indian motorcycle, with its ornate orange sidecar, a wire suspended across a parking lot knocked him off the bike. The impact broke his collarbone and a few ribs and gave him a mean cut on his neck and face.

Jay Leno 1940 Indian sidecar crash
Jay Leno's Garage

Leno has now healed from both accidents and is repairing both the steam car and the bike. The 1940 Indian will be receiving a new set of forks, the front “arms” of the motorcycle between which the front wheel sits. These were damaged when, after being separated from its driver, the vintage bike drove itself into a building. Leno believes the frame—the metal skeleton—is undamaged, so repairing the motorcycle is fairly straightforward, requiring only the replacement of old parts with new ones. Fixing the steam engine, however, is far more complicated.

Leno introduces the 1910 White steam engine as “something I forgot all about,” a moniker that seems awfully casual for the working relationship between him and that car. While the engine was running quite well when it spewed gas on him, corrosion was hiding in many of its pipes and valves. Jay and his team are planning to remake those parts and pieces to ensure that the White runs better—and more safely—than ever. The goal? For the steam car to return to the road, of course.

Leno isn’t just keeping the machines that put him in the hospital, he’s restoring them, and that’s part of what makes people like Jay great. Or, as he puts it, “Once a man turns 40 you can’t really teach him anything, he just keeps doing the same thing over and over.”

Well, Jay, that might have some truth, but in your case, we appreciate what you are doing and the projects you are working on. Glad to see you back in the shop.


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    Jay is just like us and he is well so it is time to get back to work.

    Just be careful Jay we need you around.

    I agree. Get back on that horse Jay and make yourself happy. If anyone can refer good mechanics in the San Fernando Valley (CA) that works on classic cars 1974 Karmann Ghia and 88 Subaru please let me know. It is very difficult to fine good mechanics that know how to work on these cars now.

    When I watched the episode, I learned more about steam cars than I had in all my previous years. Jay and his teams are keeping some history alive that would otherwise disappear forever. For instance, the Duesenberg engine piece was fascinating to me.
    When Jay joked that we shouldn’t tell his wife about getting back on a motorcycle, it was exactly like we were just a bunch of his buddies standing around in his garage rather than like he was filming a TV show.

    When working with gas, have a fan running to blow air into the area.
    This will keep the fuel/air ratio below the combustion point.

    I was never impacted, but recall several racers that were injured when removing fuel cell foam from the bladder. We used to remove the cell, and fill it with water to reduce the chance of fire. Drain it off after an hour or so, and pull the damp foam out of the access port. Fuel cells were built slightly oversize, and had to have something displace the extra capacity to be legal. Empty quart size oil bottles did a nice job, and I never saw any degradation from living in the fuel tank.

    Any one that knows great honest mechanics that work in the San Fernando Valley (CA) please let me know. I have a 1988 GL Subaru Wagon and 1974 Karmann Ghia.
    I think Jay Leno should do what makes him happy.

    I am 81 & I still have faith in the old car industry & it is guys like you that make it all possible,keep up the good work.
    Bob Gardner

    No surprise to see him back in the shop working away on the projects. I would too if I was him. I’m glad to see he is doing well.

    I have always enjoy Jay he’s such a down to earth guy you have always had so much respect for all others Jay! He’s just a super nice person!

    I met him at the rock store one day he was driving the big car with plane engine in it, he was just like anyone else that plays with car’s and bike’s very good guy.

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