Usually on “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the legendary comedian shares his views on more exotic cars, but on this latest episode, his base model 1999 Corvette is the subject.
That year, Leno says he was asked to drive the pace car at the Indy 500, a task he was honored to perform at no charge, but officials were so grateful for his generosity that they asked him what they could do for him. “I said, I like to get paid in product,” he quipped, prompting GM to give him a demonstrator Navy Blue Metallic ’99 Corvette coupe with a six-speed manual transmission that had just 2,500 miles on the odometer.
Leno liked the car so much that he’s kept it for the past 22 years, in immaculate condition, we might add.
“It was one of those cars, the first time you see it, it just looks right,” he said. “It just sits right, you know, something about the way a car has a stance like posture and people. Some people you go, what’s wrong with that guy, whereas this thing … just looked right. I like the color. I like the gray (interior).”
Leno calls the C5 “the greatest performance bargain there is for the money,” noting “this has as much power if not more than the equivalent Aston Martin [of the] period or even the two-seater Ferraris that were available.
They weren’t much more powerful than this, yet this was something that was bulletproof. It just runs and runs. A buddy of mine’s got one with over 90,000 miles on it, just nothing wrong with them.”
He praised the LS1 engine that produced 345 horsepower at a time when that was impressive, and noted the excellent gas mileage it provides.
He goes on to say the Corvette and Miata MX-5 are two of his favorite cars because anyone can afford to buy them.
“I sometimes get annoyed at the European manufacturers who make a half a dozen of one model, and it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars,” Leno said. “Corvette through superior engineering and manufacturing technique can make an equivalent car and sell it for under a hundred thousand dollars, and somehow that doesn’t make it as good” in some people’s eyes.
He urges his viewers to stay away from the haters, however. “If you’ve never driven a Corvette, boy, don’t pass up the opportunity, maybe rent one for a day,” he said. “I think you’d be impressed with just how good it is. I love them. I think they’re great. I love the fact that they’re affordable, I love the fact that the average guy, you know, maybe you’re a plumber or a carpenter or a lineman or something and you work hard, you save your money, you can buy one of these and enjoy it and keep it hopefully 22 years like I did.”
Thanks for the love, Jay!
Jay Leno’s Garage / YouTube
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