[VIDEO] Jay Leno Gives You the Rundown on His 1999 Corvette


[VIDEO] Jay Leno Loves his C5 1999 Corvette

For those of us enthusiasts who know how great the C5 Corvette is, it’s heartwarming to see a car fanatic like Jay Leno sharing the love for the 1997-2004 generation of Chevy’s sports car.

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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  1. About twenty or so years ago, I went to my first of two GM Auto Show in Motion that made their way to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and they were invitation only events. Really – it was not open to the public. It was just like your standard auto show except you get to test drive competitors’ cars as well on designated tracks around the LVMS. I test drove everything I could possibly test drive: SUVs, sedans, and coupes. I absolutely had the greatest time and made use of all of the knowledge they were offering us. When it came to the sportscars, of course, there was the C5 Corvette and Mustangs and even Miatas on an autocross course. It was riot! I kept getting back in line for the Corvettes. I thought those were the greatest cars ever made at the time. I fell in love with Corvette all over again since that gorgeous Forest Green C3 that I saw in Florida en route to Disney World.

    Fast forward several years later, I received another GM Auto Show in Motion invite and imagine my surprise when in the letter I got, it had a single-use ticket for the sportscars test drives. When I got to the LVMS, there were the usual unlimited test drives all over the place each specific for the type of vehicles they were just like the last time they had it. Except this time around, they used the LVMS road course for the Corvettes. Since I had a single-use ticket, I wanted that test drive to be the LAST test drive of the day so I can really put to use all of the other offerings of the auto show. When I got to the road course to test drive the C6 Corvettes, imagine my surprise that unlike the last time, this time there was a sort of safety rider with me. I had the choice of automatic or six-speed. Of course, I chose the six-speed and started to drive the car. The safety rider with me kept telling me, “Both hands on the wheel,” throughout the drive and never let me go past third gear. But his instructions throughout the course was beneficial and thorough. We finish the course and just as we were about to switch drivers, he asked me, “How do you like it?” I said, “I don’t think I was breathing the whole time.” I then yelled for joy and started kissing and hugging the steering wheel saying, “I LOVE THIS CAR!”

    A Corvette experience – all it takes is one time and you’re a diehard fan for life.

  2. I was “on the fence” looking at a Z06 (C6) at a dealership in 2007 until I drove it. Five minutes into my test drive, the wife saw the look on my face and said “let’s get back and sign the papers”. Still have it, parked next to our C3. I love Corvettes.

  3. Two great stories, I too have had the fever for several decades. On my 5th Corvette a 2011 Crystal Red Met tint coat Grand Sport 3LT Manual. One of the guys I work with who is a quarter my age rode in mine a few times and loved it so we test drove a couple of C5’s. He just got a very nice 2001 Millennium Yellow C5. He thanks me everyday for introducing him to “the most awesome thing he has ever purchased”. They look killer parked together at work, they get A LOT of attention. I do love my car.

  4. Jay has an affinity for Navy Blue Metallic. His 1999 C5 targa and his 2002 Firebird Trans Am WS6 both are in that color.

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