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Jay Leno Visits Japan and Takes a Spin in a Fairlady Z

10/3/2012
Late night TV show host and comedian Jay Leno, who is a car guy at heart, had a chance this summer to drive the Nissan Fairlady 240Z sports car in Zama, Japan, according to company officials. The original Z was first introduced in 1969 in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z.

It was Leno's first trip to Japan. The entertainer was personally invited to visit the Nissan Heritage Garage in Japan by Nissan's Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura. Previously, the Japanese automaker's creative leader had toured Leno's legendary Big Dog Garage in the Los Angeles area and wanted to showcase some of Nissan's 400 cars in the garage, which spans the company's 80-year history.

Leno's first roadster was a Datsun 1600, a predecessor of the 240Z. He told Nissan officials that he bought the 1600 in 1964 and he recalls, "It was so far superior to the British sports cars of the time--the MGs, the Triumphs--it had roll-up windows, the top you could put up, and it would snap and was water-tight. It was a very impressive car."

The cars from the '60s were some of the most fun models, Leno told the Nissan staff, also noting those models had lots of chrome and took cues from American style, which of course later evolved into Japanese automakers' own style. For a closer look at Jay Leno's cars, visit his blog: Jay Leno's Garage, which includes photos and videos and posts on classic cars in his stable along with green machines, sports cars and super cars.

Leno's Big Dog Garage is said to be located near the Burbank Airport in two buildings that have enough space to work on about a dozen cars at any given time (17,000 sq. ft.). About one-fourth of the space is devoted to a machine shop. His collection features drivable vehicles--from Stanley Steamers to Duesenbergs to McLarens. The collection also features a 1955 Buick--the car he drove to Los Angeles when he was a struggling young comic.

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