Even Jay Leno Has Trouble With Dealerships

Do you find car buying a headache? Even Jay Leno, retired Tonight Show host and the world’s most famous car collector, has trouble with some dealerships. Jay Leno of all people should have the advantage in a luxury car dealership–he used to work at one! But the celebrity faces unique car buying woes us mere peasants have never encountered.

Jay Leno owns no Ferraris because the dealership service is so bad

Jay Leno next to a Ferrari sportscar at an auto show.
Jay Leno with a Ferrari Enzo | David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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In a recent interview, Jay Leno revealed why there are no Ferraris in his nearly 200 cars. He finds Ferrari dealership service abysmal. Because he can afford any supercar he wants, he sticks to the brands that treat him well. Here’s what Leno said:

“They’re excellent cars. This is not an indictment of the car, it’s just that you’re spending a tremendous amount of money. You should be made to feel like a customer.”

Jay Leno

So how do Ferrari dealerships mis-treat Jay Leno? Firstly, Leno suggests that other brands don’t upsell him on features he doesn’t need–and that Ferrari does.

Secondly, Ferrari bumps buyers to the front of the line who already have a Ferrari collection. Therefore, Leno can’t even bid on a one-of-a-kind Ferrari until he has a few “base models” in his collection.

Finally, some dealerships are rumored to bump the price of a car when selling to a celebrity. Leno jokes, “I just never liked dealing with the dealers. I don’t wanna give a guy 25 grand in an envelope, y’know.”

Leno has had good luck with McLaren dealerships

Jay Leno in his garage leaning against a McLaren F1.
Jay Leno with his McLaren F1 | Charlie Nucci/Corbis via Getty Images

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But Jay Leno’s dealership experience has not been all bad. He often cites McLaren as a brand that knows how to treat its customers, and he’s prepared to give examples.

Leno tells the story of buying his McLaren MP4-12C. He says when he asked if we should upgrade to the carbon fiber brake rotors, the dealer asked him a blunt question: will you be racing on a track? When Leno said no, the dealer told him not to bother with the $20,000 option.

But McLaren’s stellar service did not end with the car buying experience. Leno says the brand continued to care for him after he’d paid up:

“I bought my McLaren, I paid exactly the sticker, buying it was a terrific process. I had the car six or seven months, my MP4-12C. And they called me one day and said, ‘Oh, there’s an upgrade from 592 horsepower to 617. You want the upgrade?’ I said, ‘Well, how much is it?’ and they said ‘It’s free.’”

Jay Leno

See Leno’s Ferrari-bashing interview for yourself in the video below:

The retired Tonight Show host started out working at a luxury car dealership

Jay Leno listening to the dealership pitch next to a yellow Alfa Romeo.
Jay Leno learning about an Alfa Romeo | Kelly Sullivan/Stringer via Getty Images

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When Jay Leno complains about luxury car dealership he’s not just full of hot air. Leno knows what he’s talking about because one of his first jobs was at a dealership.

The dealership was Foreign Motors on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Leno wrote on Hagerty’s site, “I wasn’t a mechanic so much as a lot boy who did new-car prep and deliveries.” But it sounds like when Leno worked as a “lot boy,” the customer was always right.

The way Leno tells it, one customer would even call him at random times and say, “come pick me up and take me down to South Boston!” and Leno would do it.

Before Leno delivered one car, a family called and asked him to pick up the wife of one family member on the way. Leno not only obliged them, but when she hopped in the car with a live lion cub he didn’t bat an eye.

Admittedly, for budding standup comedian Jay Leno, these eccentrics were part of the appeal.

Leno concluded, “I enjoyed it, and it was great fun, partly because selling those kinds of cars meant you were always meeting all kinds of weird people.”

And as an added bonus, when Leno had to make a delivery in New York he tried to find a comedy club to practice a standup bit. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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