This time around, Freiburger and Finnegan travel to Santa Rosa, California, to drive a crazy ’74 Mazda REPU mini-truck all the way back to SoCal, where they’ll compete in Optima’s Search for the Ultimate Street Car Challenge.
The Mazda is an oddity, originally powered by a rotary engine but later converted to Olds Toronado front-wheel drive drivetrain sometime in the late-1980s. With a 455ci big-block and ’69 Toronado transaxle slid between the rear frame rails, the seller claimed wheelies and 10-second ETs. However, Finnegan and Freiburger quickly discover their $5,000 mini-truck has more style than substance. Can they hang with the big dogs at the races?
For more than two decades, Jay Leno drove a different car to work. That job, hosting NBC’s venerable “Tonight Show” in Burbank not far from his expansive Big Dog Garage, paid him more than enough to keep him in exotic sheetmetal. But where for many celebrities collecting cars is a mere scorecard of showbiz success, for Leno—whose pre-fame gigs included wrenching at a Boston-area garage—it’s the grounding end to his famous means.
“Look, I love this,” says Leno, 65, sitting at a messy desk inside one of three airplane hangars that house his dazzling assortment of some 140 cars and nearly 120 motorcycles … More