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    Jay Leno

    To be a car enthusiast in Japan takes a lot more effort than in America or the UK. First of all there are hardly any parking spaces. You have to prove you have a space before you can buy a car and most of the guys wind up doing their work outside on the street because r the most privileged or wealthy.

    / #Lexus-LFA-Spider / #Lexus-LFA / #Lexus /

    In America (USA), if your car is more than 30 years old you can register it for next to nothing. In Japan, the older your car is, the more you have to pay to keep it. You show up at the shop for the equivalent of an MoT with a car from the ’70s and they go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and it takes hours and hours. All for a car you might drive only a couple of thousand miles a year.

    So when you run into these enthusiasts in Japan, they are hardcore kind of guys. There are a lot of enthusiasts who don’t even have driving licences but they drive on Nintendo and PlayStation. They know all the tracks, they know all the cars, but they just don’t have any hands-on experience with them.

    There’s a snobbery about Western car enthusiasts, that we have the heritage, we own the heritage. But Japanese cars have been around long enough to have a heritage of their own.

    In America, when we make a mistake we come back and blame the other guy. When the Japanese make a mistake they blame themselves, they throw themselves on their swords and they come back harder and faster with something better.

    The Honda NSX is the car that made Ferrari better. Ferrari was quite content to put out 220bhp cars in the early ’70s and ’80s that were really not up to Ferrari’s standards. Then the NSX came along and just embarrassed everybody and made everybody up their game. The NSX was the car that Gordon Murray felt the F1 should emulate, but the trouble was that at the time the Japanese had a gentleman’s agreement not to produce any car with more than 276 horsepower. We did not appreciate the finesse of the NSX; the jewel-like quality of the build, the handling, the fact that Senna himself played an active role in its design. We thought it was OK, but without ever driving it and (for most people) without ever seeing it, we dismissed it as some sort of Japanese wannabe. Which of course it wasn’t.
    I drove the Lexus LFA Spider while in Japan, which is very cool. The LFA is proof that the Japanese believe a car should be able to perform every purpose well. Westerners like flaws. You get some of these Japanese supercars and they don’t break. They’re bulletproof and they don’t require a lot of effort from you as an owner, so consequently there’s nothing for you to brag about. You can’t say, well they originally weren’t able to do this, but I modified it. That adds a certain cachet. The LFA does everything really well. I would say that the Mazda MX-5 is the most globally successful British car that the Japanese sort of reinvented and did correctly. The British were there first with the Lotus Elan and the MGB; if only they had put a little bit more effort into it and ploughed money back into development instead of whatever they did – when I was a kid they were everywhere and everybody had problems with them. The diehards worked the problems out and the regular people just said ‘Forget it’. I remember a quote from a British motorcycle company executive saying the average motorcycle enthusiast enjoyed decoking his head on a Saturday morning. No doubt some did…

    When the MX-5 came along it was a hard sell. It was a secretary’s car and a hairdresser’s car. And then people drove it and discovered that it was as good as the Lotus or the MG – maybe better. I had one and the battery lasted 13 years. It handled, it was fun to drive, and I would say to myself when I drove it that this was really kind of a perfect car.
    I also drove the current GT-R in Tokyo. You buy a car like that and by rights it should cost a million dollars. Technically it does things that are just unbelievable.

    I’m always suspicious of these tuners who claim to double the horsepower of your GT-R. Well, no, you can’t. The guys who built these things are real engineers. I’ve been in the clean room where they make these GT-Rs and the level of detail is amazing. They wear gloves and hairnets. And yet you’re supposed to let some guy in some filthy garage in LA take your engine apart in order to try to get more horsepower? I don’t think so.

    It was an amazing trip to Japan. Check out some of the films we shot on my website and

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    When Bullitt came out with Steve McQueen I wanted to know everything about the Ford Mustang. The same with #Knight-Rider – I remember tuning in just to see the car. These days most people don’t notice the cars the stars are driving, but they seem to know the ones in the video games, like Gran Turismo 6, which just came out.

    / #Steve-McQueen / #Bullitt / #1968-Bullit / #Gran-Turismo-6 / #1966-Oldsmobile-Toronado / #Ford-Mustang / #Oldsmobile-Toronado / #Mark-Donohue

    The idea that concept cars make their first appearance in video games makes a lot of sense. A movie opens and it makes $50 million and is a huge success. A video game launches and makes 700, 800, 900 million dollars on the first day because people want to see those vehicles.

    In the movie you tend to think of your self as James Bond or Steve-McQueen , whereas in the video game there is no human element, it’s just the car. So you are the driver, as opposed to that person, and you can make it do whatever you want it to. And the video games are way more accurate than the movies. There’s a whole cottage industry of picking out all the little mistakes in various car films. The only thing missing from games now is the gasoline and rubber smell. When you watch a game like Gran Turismo 6, they’ve gone to great trouble to recreate the sounds exactly. A friend of mine got one of the driving games and it has Mark Donohue’s Camaro in it. And he couldn’t last past a certain time, he just couldn’t get any better. Then he read Mark Donohue’s book about how he set up his Camaro and his tyre pressures and things, and he put all the stats from the book into the video game. He was lapping faster. So you actually are driving the car.

    When I got to drive a Jaguar at the Nürburgring, I practised on the video game. Braking points, the Karussell, all of it was exactly as it was in real life. Not that I had it memorised, but it meant that the track was not foreign to me when I got there.

    The amazing thing to me is the amount of time people dedicate to it. If you’r e going to sit down and play a game it’s the same as watching a two-hour movie. You sit down and pick your team, your tyres, and your car. It’s hours of information and input. You’re racing against some guy in Thailand and he’s racing against some guy in Finland. It’s a huge commitment.

    My #1966 #Oldsmobile Toronado is in Gran Turismo 6. They did a great job with the Toronado. The attention to detail is amazing because you just take for granted that when a car goes by you see a shadow. You don’t realize how many hours went in to making that shadow. When they did the car, they came to my garage with a secret camera and they put the car in the middle of the floor with a big tent over it. It was some kind of 3D camera but I don’t know what it does because I wasn’t allowed to see it. It is not just the look but the feel they have replicated well. The heaviness of the big sedan is matched in the game just great.

    I had the #Mercedes-Benz Gran Turismo concept car in my garage recently. It’s stunning. The front of that car looks like an SLR from the ’50s. The pure design of it I thought was really really good. I thought it was a clean design, it looked masculine, and it looked Mercedes-Benz. It looked futuristic yet it looked like it could also be a real car.

    People ask why Mercedes would go to all that trouble for a video game. When you say it like that it sounds disdainful, but when you use the words they used, ‘Gaming Console’, it suddenly sounds more important. It is a gaming console that is played by millions of people. It’s why games, not movies, are seen as the future.

    If a car is in a movie it might only be in the shot for a second. There was some hype about Lexus in that movie with Tom Cruise, but he got in the car and drove away in a second or two, before you even realised what he was driving. In a video game you know your car is going to be seen by exactly the people you’re trying to reach – young men, aged 12 and up. Guys who will soon be getting their licence. And what car are they going to want to drive? The car they lusted after in the video game. It’s very clever marketing. In the future I think you will see people going to dealerships and taking virtual test drives in a simulator. An actual seat from the car and the dashboard in front of you and you’ll ‘drive’ this ‘car’ instead of taking it out on a real test drive. You’ll go on a virtual test drive to see if you like it. I think that will happen. We will see cars reach reality, having started on video games. We already have. Every major car company will do this.

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    Certain facts in the automotive world are irrefutable. Number one, the #1971-Citroen-DS-Pallas / #Citroen-DS / #Citroen / #1971-Citroen-DS / #Citroen / #1971 / , especially the #Pallas / #Citroen-DS-Pallas model, is the most comfortable car in the world. You may not be crazy about the four-cylinder engine, while the transmission’s not the smoothest, but the seats combined with the padded floor truly make it the most comfortable car on the planet. People sit in my DS after I’ve told them this, and they all say the same thing: why can’t all cars be like this? And why can’t they? When you get behind the wheel of a DS you literally fall into a big easy chair that wraps itself around you. Some manufacturers try very hard; two of my favourite Mercedes-Benz models are my 1972 600, which has hydraulically operated seats, and my ’1971 280 SE Coupé, with its big, overstuffed leather chairs. These are the last of the truly handmade #Mercedes-Benz cars. Yet even with the finest leather, they’re still not as comfortable as the DS.

    The only car that comes close is my #1931-Bentley-8-Litre fourdoor Mulliner sedan. Even though its suspension is primitive, the big, down-filled leather chairs are something you’d be proud to put in your library or sitting room.

    When I was in England recently, a friend collected me in a beautiful Rolls-Royce Phantom. It is an amazing car – quiet and smooth, with an unparallelled sound system – but still I felt like I was sitting on the seat rather than in it. Shouldn’t a Rolls be at least as comfortable as a DS? And why does the leather in today’s high-end motors have the texture of vinyl? My 1968-Mercedes-Benz-6.3 has 327,000 miles on it, but the constant application of hide food has given the leather a patina and suppleness that just can’t be found in modern cars.

    And can we stop with the Recaro racing seats? One of my favourite cars to drive would be the Aston Martin Vantage with a manual gearbox. It’s fast and sexy, but it has the most uncomfortable racing seat I’ve ever sat in. I love everything about the car except the seats. They’re slaves to fashion trying to look cool. Astons are for driving long distances across continents, which should be done in the most comfortable way possible.

    With these Recaro buckets, after an hour I had to pull over to get out of the car and stretch. It felt like it was cutting off the circulation. Even in my #McLaren-P1 I replaced the standard seat for a slightly wider one. It’s a little bit better – but not much. I have a Shelby Mustang GT350R. The first thing I did when I ordered the car was to ask for the stock Mustang seats to be put in, instead of the standard racing buckets. If the goal was to crack walnuts with my buttocks, I’d have kept the Recaros. It’s hard to drive if you’re not comfortable. Where’s the fun?

    When I was restoring my DS, I took great pains to deconstruct the seats and examine what made them so comfortable. The secret? Foam, and lots of it. Of course, Citroën never took the DS to the Nürburgring. That has a lot to do with it. The Nürburgring has probably done more than anything else to make luxury cars uncomfortable. Any suspension perfected there is designed to handle loads and speeds the average driver would never see in a luxury car. Along with low-profile tyres, which are so popular and have absolutely no give, the combination means cars simply aren’t as comfortable as they should be. My Tesla had 21in tyres. In 1000 miles I hit two potholes and blew out two tyres. There’s not enough sidewall to take the compression, so you split the sidewall. There’s nothing else you can do.

    Why do people buy 21in wheels? They don’t really know the difference between sidewall compression rates, they just think it looks cooler. They are willing to give up comfort for that.

    How many people would prefer to look good or feel good? Style reigns, unfortunately. BMW has just come out with the R Nine T, which is a twin-cylinder Boxer motorcycle available in three styles. The coolest is the Café bike. I drove the standard version with standard handlebars, and it was so comfortable, but I ordered the Café because it looked the coolest with the little half fairing and the lowered bar. After 20 minutes of riding, I realised I should have ordered the other one.

    The idea of selling comfort now seems to have gone out the window. It seems to be about looking cool or sporty, or Nürburgring times. Stuff like that. In the old days they used to sell comfort. American cars used to sell what they called the Boulevard Ride: the car floats down the road. Ford made a fortune selling LTDs, saying it was quieter than a Rolls. Whether it was or not, nobody really knew. It’s like you’re the captain of a ship, driving a big boat. So much of that seems to have fallen by the wayside. If someone offers you a seat in their DS, take it. It’s the most comfortable motoring experience you can have.

    The Collector Jay Leno

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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno joined the group Citroen DS Group
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    We’re fascinated by the top speed of supercars. It wasn’t that long ago that 200mph on a road car was incomprehensible. Now it’s pretty much the norm for supercars. But how many of us have actually gone 200 miles per hour? About ten years ago I met a guy who ran a school for people who wanted to go 200 miles per hour. He would give you some training and then take you out on the salt flats, and if the car didn’t hit a timed 200mph you got your money back. He had Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches and other assorted vehicles, and when it came right down to it a lot of these cars would go 196, 197, 198. Not quite 200. His secret weapon, to make sure he got paid, was to go back to the garage and pull out the Mercedes McLaren SLR. That was the one car he had that always did a real-world 200mph-plus.

    / #Chevrolet-Corvette-ZR1 / #2018-Chevrolet-Corvette-ZR1 / #Chevrolet-Corvette / #Chevrolet-Corvette-ZR1-C7 / #Chevrolet-Corvette-C7 / #GM / #Chevrolet / #2018

    For supercars, going 200mph is like being a seven-foot- tall basketball player. In America they always say a team has a particular number of seven-footers. In reality, like the cars that go 196, 197 or 198, many of those guys are six-foot-eight or six-foot-nine. Apparently there are only 2800 people in the entire world who are seven feet tall, in a population of 7.4 billion.

    So when Chevrolet said the new Corvette had a top speed of 200mph-plus, I thought, why not try and prove it?

    The Corvette we chose was the new #Chevrolet-Corvette-ZR1 . I have the last version of the ZR1 with 640bhp, which was a mind-numbing figure back in 2009. This new Corvette is rated at over 750. Although I enjoy driving my ZR1, the concept of top speed seems silly because there is no place on the street where you can even come close to those numbers. But hey, that’s what sells magazines.

    What really surprised me was how receptive to the idea Chevrolet was. It wasn’t long ago that most American manufacturers would shy away from the idea of putting their vehicles up against Europe’s and Japan’s finest, but not any more. The new Ford GT, the Camaros, the Mustangs, the Corvettes, these are all world-class cars. And something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime was a Cadillac running at Le Mans.

    We went to the GM Milford proving ground in Milford, Michigan. This was the car industry’s first dedicated facility when it opened in 1924. The banked circular track is 4.5 miles long. Over 4800 people work in the 107 buildings inside the proving ground, security is at the Pentagon level and everything works with military precision. I hooked up with Tadge Juechter, the Corvette’s chief engineer. He’s a Stanford graduate who’s been with General Motors for 37 years. He’s been to my garage a number of times, so I was thrilled to be able, finally, to look at some of his stuff.

    I knew the new mid-engined Corvette was here somewhere. I saw a couple of car covers go on pretty quickly as we went from room to room, but Tadge was slyly coy on the subject. When we got to the proving ground, a totally stock 2018 Corvette ZR1 was waiting for us. It had all its emissions gear, it had production Corvette tyres and it was running on pump gas.

    I got in the driver’s seat, Tadge beside me in the passenger seat. After a few warm-up laps to get heat into the tyres I asked Tadge what it was like to drive a Corvette at 200mph. He said: ‘I have no idea! I’ve never gone 200mph in a Corvette.’ So the first time you’re doing this is with a retired chat show host who’s never been on this track in his life?

    It’s amazing how far aerodynamics have come in the last decade. A decade ago I drove the Porsche Carrera GT around Talladega Raceway and my highest speed was 190mph. On the corners I felt the car moving around and it was nerve-wracking. After about 50 laps I got the thumbsup from the crew, so I lifted off the throttle on the straight. Big mistake. The back end snapped round and I spun about five times. Luckily I remembered the old adage that you always run into what you’re looking at.

    So when I saw the wall I turned my head and managed to contain my spin in the middle of the straight. No damage to myself or the car, but the tyres were toast. That’s what was on my mind as we passed 200 in the Corvette. The dial kept fluctuating between 204 and 205. Because the track is banked, they said it was the equivalent of about 208. The amazing part was how easy it was to do. After a few minutes 200 felt like 100. On the cool-down lap, 150 felt like 60.

    When I was a kid, there were very few people in the 200mph club. Now it’s open to anyone who wants to give it a try. So what’s the next frontier?

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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno created a new group Chevrolet Corvette C7

    Chevrolet Corvette C7 Open Group

    Chevrolet Corvette C7 - Seventh generation 2014-2021

    View Group →
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    Jay Leno
    Jay Leno installed the application Blog
    This blog application allows you to create blog posts and also display them within your profile as well.
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