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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

FULL REVIEW: E39 BMW 528i Touring

Model release dates: April 1998 - November 2000. Later no more 528i, replaced by 530i.


BMW's high-roller 528i Touring is a member of an exclusive club, alongside Mercedes, Audi, Volvo and now Saab. The 528i Touring is the station wagon you drive when you really wanted a luxury sedan. It inherits all 5 Series strong points and adds station wagon versatility. Not as big as a Volvo nor able to go places the Swedish four-wheel drive V70R version can, the BMW nevertheless is one of the most driver-oriented wagons.

THE CAR: 528i touring

In 1999 the Touring (station wagon) body style were introduced and joined the sedans in both 6-cylinder and V8 editions. Added options for 1999 were brighter xenon headlights, Park Distance Control that warns of obstacles when the car is getting too close to other cars and walls etc, is standard, and self-leveling rear suspension for wagons. Standard on V8 models and newly optional for 528i versions was BMW's Dynamic Stability Control, designed to aid control in fast turns.

The 2.8-litre, twin camshaft, six-cylinder engine develops 142kW at 5300rpm and 280Nm of torque at 3950rpm. It mates to a five-speed automatic transmission.

For the Touring, The rear suspension's dampers lie almost flat to maximise cargo load space. It also features a self-levelling system. The window in the tailgate can be opened separately. A lamp on the bottom edge of tailgate illuminates the area beneath the open door. The five-door 5 Series has a low 0.30 co-efficient of drag.


All five seats come with height-adjustable headrests and three-point seatbelts. Unlike the Mercedes E-class, the Touring can only seat five. The rear headrests do not have to be removed when the seat is folded forward. Dual front and side airbags are fitted as standard. The rear seat features integrated child seats. The Touring can carry 1525 litres of cargo, weighing up to 630kg. Most E39 5 series came with DOUBLE Electric silding SUNROOF.

The wagon is only 30mm longer than the sedan. A luggage compartment cover and safety net are included. Like other 5 Series models, the Touring features double glazing on side windows. Also, Roof rails are standard.

MECHANICALS (Source from: Copyright© 1997-2005 by Mark Wan)

Engine was one of the strength of BMW. Although the 5-series brought no new engines at launch, its six-cylinders (170hp 2.5-litre for 523i and 193hp 2.8-litre 528i) and V8 (235hp 3.5-litre 535i and 286hp 4.4-litre 540i) were the top engines in the world then. I especially preferred 528i, the core model of the range. Like all BMW inline-sixes, it was silky smooth, eager and flexible. On paper, its power was limited by the need to satisfy German insurance companies. In reality, its superior torque from the longer stroke and Double-Vanos gave 528i remarkable performance - Autocar recorded 0-60 mph and 100 mph in 6.8 and 18.0 seconds respectively. This simply matched some V8 rivals. On the other hand, it managed to reduce fuel consumption from its predecessor. In 2000, the 2.8 engine was replaced by the much improved 3.0-litre engine with 231hp on tap.


E39 could handle and ride so well because of several reasons. Firstly, its chassis was made immensely strong - 80 percent stiffer in torsion than its predecessor ! this was by far the stiffest car then. So stiff that BMW found it unnecessary to raise chassis rigidity anymore in the subsequent E60. The chassis was also much safer under crash. You might think it must be very heavy, don't you? Wrong. The chassis needed just 10 extra kilograms to achieve the vast improvement of rigidity and crash worthiness. To scare you more, the whole car actually weighed LESS than the old generation, thanks to the use of all-alloy engine, aluminum transmission case and aluminum suspensions. Take a 528i for instance, BMW claimed it was 35 kg lighter than the old 525i. The E39 comes with either a 5 speed steptronic gearbox or 6 speed manual.

The suspensions of E39 was a technical milestone. On the one hand, it gave up the old fashion semi-trailing arm rear suspensions and switched to a new Z-axle multi-link setup, which had superior wheel control. On the other hand, the Z-axle and the MacPherson strut front suspensions were made almost entirely of aluminum alloy - a first in mass production car. Basically, except the wheel bearings, all suspensions parts were aluminum, such as mounting sub-frames, control arms, strut tubes and steering knuckles. This saved 44 valuable kilograms of unsprung weight, benefiting ride quality a lot. No wonder British magazines praised its ride comfort over their rough roads while German drivers appreciated its composure over fast bumps. Few other cars were so widely acclaimed.

E39 was also the industry leader in the field of NVH engineering. It was one of the first cars to mount all suspensions on sub-frames and via rubber bushings to isolate NVH from the chassis. To deal with wind noise, BMW worked in its acoustic lab to tune its aerodynamics and eventually added triple sealing to the doors and noise-absorbing foam to the window pillars. No wonder it set new standard in cabin quietness and refinement. However, BMW didn't take all noises away. It deliberately left the engine noise untouched. Normally under civilized use, the inline-6 revved quietly. Once floored down the throttle, the beautiful roar of the 6-pot engine inducted into the cabin and raised the pulse of its driver.

The same driver involvement could be found in handling. As all petrol six-cylinder E39s achieved 50:50 percent front to rear weight distribution, they turned into corners neutrally and eagerly. They set benchmark in dynamics for the executive car class, bringing small-car agility to the class for the first time. The steering was beautifully weighted and very feelsome. Other human interfaces were also tuned to near perfect - slick gearshift, perfectly sited driving position, pedals and instrument, comfy seats… superb ergonomics combined with impeccable build quality and beautiful dashboard design, how could BMW make further improvements from this? the answer is no. Its successor E60 actually failed to match it in a number of key areas.

Traction control is also part of the long equipment list that includes front and side airbags, climate control air- conditioning, remote central locking, park distance control and leather trim.

The Touring is a welcome addition to the 5-Series range, providing a well equipped, practical vehicle. But if it is ultimate space you are looking for, the gargantuan Benz is the better bet.

We like (+ve)
Sedan-like performance, full equipment list

We dislike (-ve)
Restricted load space

Did you know?
The tailgate has power opening and closing instead of a conventional handle. To close it, a slight push against the lock activates an electric motor which pulls the tailgate shut.

- Article partly sourced (non-italics text)from: Automotive NetWorks 08/07/1999


The E39 5-series was definitely a masterpiece of its time. It raised the standard so high that arch-rival Mercedes E-class took 2 generations to surpass it - and just marginally. It also forced the engineers responsible for E60 to go to the extreme, employing some pre-matured technologies such as active steering, aluminum front structure and i-Drive, just wanted to better the E39. Unfortunately, the new car still fails to match the integrity of E39, especially in subjective aspect like steering and design. Perhaps this is the best testimony for the greatness of E39.


It's very RARE to find E39 5 series touring. An estimation of 60 units examples of E39 5 series available in Malaysia only. I prepared a review for this model because E39 528i touring is one of my DREAM CAR. Any owner of E39 528i for sale?
I'll definitely buy one if say 1st batch model (1999) priced below RM100,000. DREAM ON! I know...


• In-line, six-cylinder, 2.793-litre, double overhead camshaft, four-valves per cylinder
• Bore/stroke: 84mm/84mm
• Compression ratio: 10.2:1
• Power: 142kW at 5300rpm
• Torque: 280Nm at 3950rpm

• Five-speed automatic

• Front: Independent, multi-link
• Rear: Independent, multi-link

• Rack and pinion
• Turning circle: 11.3m
• Turns lock to lock: 3.0

• Length: 4805mm (4775 sedan)
• Width: 1800mm
• Height: 1440mm
• Wheelbase: 2830mm
• Track front: 1512mm
• Track rear: 1522mm
• Kerb weight: 1580kg

EPA City/Highway: 21mpg/29mpg


Top speed: 146mph (233km/h)
0-60mph (0-100km/h): (-NA- Anyone can contribute?)

• Dual and side airbags
• Anti-lock brakes
• Engine immobiliser
• AM/FM stereo radio/cassette
• Power steering, windows and mirrors
• Climate control air-conditioning
• Traction control
• Park distance control
• Remote central locking
• Rear window wash/wipe
• Luggage cover and safety net

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

POLL: Which is the Best Petrol?


GUIDE: Importing A Vehicle To Malaysia

Unfortunately this is going to be a hassle. It is perhaps the best idea to just put your car into storage or in the care of a friend while you are in Malaysia. However if you really have to bring your car the following will be helpful.

The imposition of very high import duties make owning a non Malaysian made car somewhat expensive. Import duties run to as high as 300%. Consequently the vast majority of cars in Malaysia are locally produced ones. Cost of maintenance and parts for foreign cars are also factors to be considered. Needless to say if your car is rare or indeed not available in Malaysia these factors become paramount.

Shipping charges, documentation and bureaucracy may also cause you problems, although hiring a shipping agent will alleviate most of the stress involved, charges will of course be imposed.

To import your car, you must apply for an Approval Permit (AP) from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

In order to apply for this permit your car must be registered under your name for at least 3 years. The following documentation must then be presented and processed:

1. A letter of application addressed to the Ministry Of International Trade and Industry (MITI) for the importing of a car from your home country to Malaysia for personal use.
2. A JK69 form must be purchased MITI and duly completed.
3. Documentation indicating proof of ownership. Typically this will be a purchase receipt or transfer of ownership/letter from the previous owner if the car was purchased second-hand.
4. The original and photocopied registration.
5. The cars original insurance documents and/or a letter from the insurance company.
6. Your work permit and letter of contract from your employer in Malaysia.
7. A photocopy of your passport.

All these documents must be presented to the officer in charge at the MITI offices, who will also conduct a short interview. Processing of your application typically takes seven working days, if all goes well you will be issued an Approval Permit allowing you to import your car. The permit is valid for only 3 months, if you do not import your car by then, you will have to go through the entire process all over again.

Upon the arrival of your car, you are required to collect it yourself from the port and then you will need to apply for a permit from the Malaysian Road Transport Department or "Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan", this entails more registration paperwork which of course will include your proof of ownership and registration documents, a car inspection and the payment of the import duties.

(Source: Royal Malaysian Custom – Import of Personal Vehicle)

Import Duty For CBU Vehicles (%)

3rd Image Table Contributed by BeastX (LYN)

Purchase price of the vehicle can be taken into account in the calculation of the Customs Value and this is only an estimation of the calculations of Customs Duties. However, Royal Malaysian Customs has docket price of the particular vehicle to determine the calculation of the exact Customs Value. The calculation of Customs Duties also depends on the original registration date (birth date), engine capacity, date of import and model of the vehicle.

Simple Question & Answer

I work / study at overseas and already purchased a car and intended to bring the car into Malaysia. Can I know the procedure?

Malaysia citizen who work or study at overseas can import a vehicle for personal use subject to the approval permit given by Ministry of International Trade and Industry. To get the approval applicant have to purchase and fill the JK69 Form. JK69 is a gazetted Custom Form. The form comes with three carbonised copies. Therefore, it cannot be downloaded from the website. Once endorsed by MITI, the form becomes an Approved Permit (AP). JK69 can be purchased at:

Percetakan Nasional Malaysia Berhad
Jalan Chan Sow Lin
50554 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-92212022
Fax : 03-92220690

Person that is eligible to bring in personal vehicle are as follows:
i. Malaysians studying overseas (at least diploma level) for more than a year and returning home permanently. Accompanying spouse is not eligible.
ii. Malaysians working legally on a permanent post overseas (at least a year) and returning home permanently. Accompanying spouse is not eligible.
iii. Government officials posted overseas for more than a year. Accompanying spouse is eligible for one AP.

(For more information on (i), (ii) and (iii), please go to APPLICATION PROCEDURE AND WORK PROCESS. Refer to DOCUMENT 11: Guidelines to Apply for Import License For Personal Motor Vehicles Of Malaysian Citizens Working Or Studying Overseas)

iv. Expatriates with valid working pass/permit. The importation of the personal vehicle is subject to re-export condition upon termination of work employment in Malaysia.
v. Participants of Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H). (For detail, please go to
vi. Malaysians specialists returning home under the Ministry of Human Resource program. (For detail, please go to Laman Web Rasmi Kementerian Sumber Manusia - Home)

A complete application has to be submitted manually to any of the following offices:

i. Trade Services Division
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
2nd Floor, Block 10 Government Offices Complex
50622 Jalan Duta
Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 603-62034819
Fax: 603-62013012

ii. MITI Cawangan Sabah
Tingkat 3, blok D&E
Bangunan KWSP
49,Jalan Karamunsing
88622 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 088-239061
Fax : 088-235645

iii. MITI Cawangan Sarawak
Tingkat 3, Bangunan Bank Negara
93400 Kuching Sarawak
Tel : 082-257164
Fax : 082-417835

After getting the permit (AP), the vehicle can be imported into Malaysia and must be declared to the Royal Malaysian Customs at the customs station/ office at the place of import using the Customs Form No. 1 which can be obtained or purchased at:

Percetakan Nasional Malaysia Berhad
Jalan Chan Sow Lin
50554 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : 03-92212022
Fax : 03-92220690

The form comes with four carbonised copies. Therefore, it cannot be downloaded from the website.

Ordinary people did not know that every Malaysian citizen is entitled to one AP in a lifetime. Link to news via MalaysiaKini.Com: Rafidah directed to address AP issue in Parliament (





Friday, January 04, 2008


Model release dates: 1995 - 2001 (1996 to 2002 in Malaysia)



2) Picture source:


A STRONG competitor for the BMW 3-series since its launch in 1995, the Audi A4 still holds its own today despite upgrades and new models from its main protagonists. It offers a wide range of configurations from front-wheel drive to four-wheel drive and four-door sedan or station wagon. Performance in the base 1.8-litre engine is adequate only while the suspension offers a good combination of comfort and road-holding. Four-wheel drive and turbo versions add to the dynamics, and the price. Disadvantages are the tight back seat and slightly over-assisted power steering.



Smooth, integrated shape results in a competitive aerodynamic Cd figure of 0.29
The A4 is up to 45kg lighter than its 80 series predecessor.Four-link front suspension design is based on the luxury A8 series
Geometry of the front suspension is designed to eliminate front-wheel drive kick-back at the steering wheel. A simple, lightweight torsion beam axle is used at the rear.

Five-valve-per-cylinder technology means greater valve area for improved gas flow and better fuel economy compared to four-valve heads. The long stroke engine design of 1.8-litre, 20-valve, four-cylinder is used to promote torque output across the rpm range

All A4 models come with climate control air-conditioning, central locking and power steering The sedan's boot is actually larger than the A4 Avant with rear seats in place. Dual front airbags are standard on all A4 models

THE A4's base engine is the 92kW, 1.8-litre, 20-valve, four-cylinder with five-speed manual transmission (The subject for this review). With only 173Nm of torque available, at a fairly high 3950rpm, constant revs are required for brisk progress. There is also the optional four-speed automatic featuring 'DSP' that varies gear up-shift points according to driving style.

Arguably the best version of the A4 is the 110kW turbocharged 1.8T. It is available in five-speed automatic form and is fast, economical and refined. The 30-valve, 2.8-litre V6 quattro version is a well- equipped alternative to the rear-driven BMW 328i.

The A4's interior features high standards of build quality and an attractive, ergonomically-designed dashboard. The instrumentation is clear and easy to read although the red back-lighting may not be to everybody's taste. Some of the darker interior hues also make the A4 seem somb reThe A4 is a little tight for space in the back seat, suiting its maker's classification as being a "sports sedan" rather than a family-style conveyance.

The Avant station wagon came in late 1996 but its meagre carrying capacity makes it more like a five-door hatch.

SOURCE: - Automotive NetWorks 03/02/1999

ADD-ON article:

Second Opinion

Early A4's were attractive yes, but buyers expecting an Audi alternative to a BMW 3-Series will be disappointed. The A4's handling is good, but softer and not as well balanced as the rear-drive 3-Series. As well, the A4's steering is lighter, vaguer and less responsive. But equipped with quattro all-wheel-drive and a good set of tires, the A4 will run rings around a 3-Series in the snow.

The A4's interior is impeccable, but rear seat legroom is cramped. Its exterior styling has held up amazingly well over the years, and a nicely-kept A4 will look like a new car sitting in your driveway. - Greg Wilson - editor (Canadian Driver)

Consumer Reports has included the 1996-2001 Audi A4 1.8T on its list of used vehicles to avoid, principally because of a worse than average record with respect to engine repairs, but engine cooling, electrical and brake problems also caused concern. Not enough data was collected from owners to evaluate 2.8 V6 models.

Despite this lack of support, the Audi A4 has relatively few service issues identified in the service bulletins - the major ones being noted above. Recalls have been issued for the tie rod problem and a warranty extension should cover 1.8T engine problems due to sludge build-up.

But the issue does underscore the need for a thorough vehicle inspection before buying an Audi A4 1.8T, or any used car for that matter. Never take a seller's word on maintenance. Have the vehicle checked by an independent automotive service technician first and be sure there are no problems before you buy.

And speaking of buying - the A4 is a desirable used car buy, particularly for performance-oriented enthusiasts. So prices have held up reasonably well, despite the age of these vehicles.


1995, 1996, 1997: Transport Canada Recall Number 1997176. Units affected: 1997. A discharge of static electricity could activate the driver's side air bag. Dealers will install a ground wire.

1996, 1997: Transport Canada Recall Number 2000238. Units affected: 2767. The plastic ignition switch housing may fracture. Ignition switch will be replaced.

1996: Transport Canada Recall Number 1996092. Units affected: 168. Improper grounding of the horn may cause intermittent operation. A ground contact spring will be installed.

1997, 1998, 1999: Transport Canada Recall Number 1999095. Units affected: 9000. A control valve in the vacuum hose connecting the brake booster to the intake manifold may not open or close fully at temperatures below -4 degrees F. A vacuum by-pass system will be installed on affected vehicles.

1998, 1999: Transport Canada Recall Number 1999195. Units affected: 4900. On certain vehicles, the steering assembly tie rod seals do not seal properly. Tie rods will be replaced on affected vehicles.

1998: Transport Canada Recall Number 1998126. Units affected: 1437. An engine backfire during cold start could damage an air screen loosely seated in the air flow metre, which could prevent the throttle plate from returning to its full idle position. A screen retaining ring will be installed and damaged screens replaced.

1999: Transport Canada Recall Number 2002104. Units affected: 2853. On certain vehicles, the steering assembly tie rod seals do not seal properly. Tie rods will be replaced on affected vehicles.

We like (+ve)
Solidity, grip, build quality, equipment

We dislike (-ve)
Bottom-end engine performance, remote driving experience


1)All Audi models feature a- fully galvanised body for effective rust protection
2) Audi is the FIRST with Quattro (4 wheel drive) fitted in a 3-box passenger car back in 1980.
3) Audi A4’s a FRONT WHEEL DRIVE with engine mounted like a rear wheel drive (vertically), for 50/50 weight distribution. Also, Audi claimed that this setup minimizes power loss by torque converter (in Auto gearbox).


In Malaysia, there’s only 2 engines.
1) 125hp 1.8i 20v NA.
2) 1.8T 20v turbo 150hp.

The pricing in Malaysia as at December 29 2007 are (1.8T in bracket):

1996: RM28,000 (-NA-)
1997: RM35,000 (48,000) 1998: RM39,000 (55,000)
1999: RM45,000 (60,000) 2000: RM50,000 (65,000)
2001: RM56,000 (72,000) 2002: -NA- (RM80,000)

Note that for 2008, pricing depreciates 10% for Audi A4 8 years old or newer. After 8th year is all based on Condition as well as Supply and demand (ie. Buyer’s market). Why? It’s because difficulty to get Bank Loan hence potential buyers are mostly personal loan or cash buyers. My prices for 1999 and older’s based on Pro-rata (average).


* 1.781-litre DOHC 20-valve front-mounted transverse in-line four-cylinder
* Power: 92kW at 5800rpm
* Torque: 173Nm at 3950rpm
* Five-speed manual/four-speed automatic
* Front: independent by four-link system, coil springs, anti-roll bar
* Rear: torsion beam, coil springs, anti-roll bar
* Power-assisted rack and pinion
* Turning circle: 11.1 metres
• Top speed: 203km/h (127mph)/ (200km/h Auto (125mph))
• 0-100km/h in 9.8 secs. (10.7secs Automatic)
* Length: 4479mm
* Width: 1733mm
* Height: 1415mm
* Wheelbase: 2617mm
* Kerb weight: 1205kg

-NA-. Anyone can contribute?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Presenting: Interview: Cruising with Jay Leno

Happy New Year 2008. I'd just realised that this is my 51st post. To kick off the new year, I present a RARE article, an interview of "The Car Guy", Jay Leno by "Roadfly Magazine (US), issue 8" which dated back in August 2003. How's that...

Here it goes. ENJOY!:

Source: ROADFLY Magazine,
Issue Eight
August 9, 2003

""Ever notice how many Hollywood celebrities claim to be car enthusiasts? Ask them about their collections or cars that catch their eye, and you'll likely hear all about the latest Bentley, Ferrari, Hummer or Lamborghini. To a real car enthusiast, hearing things like that is not only disheartening, it's infuriating - these people aren't enthusiasts, they're label junkies.

Not true of Jay Leno, host of NBC's very popular late night talk show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Jay is a 100% certified, Grade-A car and motorcycle enthusiast - so much so, that yours truly believes he may bleed 10w-30 motor oil. He often shows footage of some of his unique vehicles during the Tonight Show, and his guests often ask him about his cars and bikes while they're being interviewed. His Apache helicopter turbine-powered motorcycle brings back fond Tonight Show memories.

Luckily, Jay is not only a successful comedian, television personality and accomplished car collector - he's also one heckuva nice guy. You hear it from many people - people who've bumped into him at the grocery store, people who've worked with him and people who've seen his comedy club routines. They all say, "Jay is such a great guy," and we can verify that statement as nothing short of completely accurate.

In fact, he's more than a great guy. He's a great guy who loves talking about cars and motorcycles, and he was more than accommodating of our request to sit down and interview him about his life's passion. We feel very fortunate that Jay was able to take time from his unbelievably busy schedule to field our questions and share his experiences with us. We talked about everything from Austin Healey's to Zeffer's, and share excerpts of the interview here. If you dare to consider yourself a car or motorcycle fanatic, you definitely don't want to miss a single word Jay had to say.

R: When did you first become interested in cars and motorcycles, and who do you hold "responsible" for getting you into the hobby?

Jay Leno: Oh, it seems like I've always been in to cars and motorcycles. I grew up in New England, and when I was 12 or 13 I got a go-kart. We had a 300-foot driveway and I'd drive up and down it like every day.

As a kid, I used to work a lot of different jobs, so when I was about 14, I bought a 1934 Ford pick-up truck. My dad and I brought it home and I spent like another 2 years driving up and down the driveway in that. You know, going "reeeer" [makes car noise] and then backing up and then "reeeer" [car noise] driving back and forth, like an idiot - I maybe got into second gear once or twice. I did that like 50 times a day until I got my license. I've always liked things that make noise, roll and explode. [chuckles while recalling the memories]

R: Have you always been mechanically inclined? I know that you do a lot of your own work, and that you're pretty good at working on vehicles of all types.

JL: Well, I think I am...[chuckles] But I don't think I'm a particularly gifted mechanic. I'm certainly not very good as a machinist or anything like that, but I just enjoy working on things.

I get a perverse pleasure out of things breaking down on the road and then being responsible for trying to get them home again - I guess that's why modern cars don't interest me that much, because there's not a whole lot you can do to them when they break down.

For example, when I first came to California, and I'd drive down the street and I'd see someone broken down with the hood open, so I'd pull over and be like, "Hey, what's the matter? Oh, here's your problem - the coil wire came off, or here, let me fix that," or whatever it might be. Maybe eight times out of ten I could get them going again, without too much drama - it was just something you could do. Nowadays, when cars break down and I pull over to help, I just hand them my cell phone and call the tow truck.

Carrying tools in a modern car like a Honda or Toyota - there's not much you can do with them. It's sort of pointless, isn't it? The days of explaining to someone that the mercury switch (like they had in the mid-80's Alfa's that would cut the fuel and ignition if the car got turned on it's side) is "flipped" are gone. You just call the tow truck and watch it get hauled away.

R: I know you hate it when people ask you about your top-10 favorite cars, but I'm going to do it anyway. What are your favorites?

JL: Oh boy [laughs]. Let's see, my current favorite is probably the Duesenberg SJ - that's a solid car and is probably one of the best cars of all time. I like the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe, the McLaren F1, the 1913 Mercer Raceabout, my Stanley Steamer, the Lamborghini Miura, my 1909 Baker Electric (an electric car from nearly 100 years ago, take that GM!), any big, old eight-liter Bentleys, and of course, the 1960's 427 Ford AC Cobra. That thing still amazes me.

R: Generally speaking, do you prefer your vehicles to be stock, modified, restored or some combination of all of the above?

JL: [pauses] Well, it depends on what type of car you're talking about. For example, like right now I have an extremely heavily modified C5 Corvette Z06 - but, would I prefer it if you gave me an all-stock, 1962 Corvette, numbers matching, fuel injected car? Absolutely - then the stock car is much more appealing to me. In 25 years, will I prefer a stock Z06? Probably. It just depends on what it is and what time period you're living in.

R: What vehicles catch your eye today? Is there any thing that you have your eye on, or anything that you'd really like to own?

JL: The one that I'm really attracted to is the new GT from Ford, you know, the new version of the old GT40. I think they've done an excellent job of recreating the car, and since there's some family history there, it's not like it's a replica car. I think it's a really exciting car.

I'm also really excited about the new SLR Mercedes-Benz. Coincidentally, I've got the first one that's going to be coming into the country, so I'm really looking forward to that - it's pretty cool. Zero to 60 is, what, 4 seconds? But it's not only about the horsepower, even though it has over 600 horsepower. I had an EV1 [General Motors Electric Car] for a few weeks, and I actually enjoyed driving it.

But the electric car is dead. It's a dead idea - I mean, I have a 1909 Baker Electric, and it goes 110 miles on a charge. The EV1 goes 125 miles on a charge, so we've gained a whopping 15 miles in 90 years of technology? Come on. You have to think of electricity as a living thing - you put it in a box, and it's going to escape, or it'll die trying to escape. You either use it at the point of generation, or you have to go elsewhere.

Eventually, I think a complete fuel-cell vehicle with an electric motor at each wheel will be the final solution, but I think that's still quite a bit in the future.

R: If an automaker or bike manufacturer were to re-incarnate a vehicle from days gone by, what would you like to see them bring back?

JL: Well, I think the Duesenberg SJ would be an interesting vehicle - that was a car that was ahead of it's time. I mean, I have a few Duesenbergs, and even today, it's not a car that you have to apologize for driving.

You know, like you're driving down the road going, "Oh, pardon me, sorry, just go around - it's really old, sorry! Sorry! Yeah, just go around!"

A lot of times with old cars, the things are just screaming trying to go forty, fifty miles an hour, but with the Duesy, I pass people at like 75, 80 miles per hour on the freeway, and they're like "jeesh!" It's a well-designed car - I mean, it had twin cams, overhead valves, hemi-heads, 4-vales per cylinder, and it was designed and built in 1927. It's amazing, so that would certainly be an interesting one.

Or, how about the TR3? I mean, Mazda's Miata has come as close as anyone can to recreating the famous old MG's, but there's obviously an interest in these types of cars. The unfortunate thing about the Miata is that many people refer to it as a girl's car, which is an image-killing moniker to have stuck to your car, especially if you're a guy driving that car.

Collin Chapman used to say, "You build a car, then add lightness," and that's a really great thing to say and do. Mazda did it with the Miata, as did MG and Triumph with the TR3. But we Americans seem to associate light cars with femininity, which is absolutely silly.

The Lotus Elan is about as light a car as you're going to get, they take out Mustangs and Corvettes on the circuits, but most people under the age of 35 don't understand the notion of a lightweight car, so they make fun of it.

You know, I have a car that's called "The Rocket" and it weighs 775-lbs and has 147 horsepower flowing through 12 speeds (6 high, 6 low). Power to weight, there's nothing that can hang with me when I get on it - nothing and I mean nothing - stays with me. I get 35, 40 miles to the gallon, I stomp on the brakes, lock-up the wheels and my brake pads last forever, because I'm only haulin' around 775lbs. It's a wonderful example of how important conserving weight is and the advantages to doing so.

R: Which of your cars or bikes is your rarest vehicle?

JL: Rarest? Hmm, well, I don't know - I have a lot of odd cars and motorcycles, but I honestly don't know which is the most rare. I just try to avoid the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous syndrome." I mean, for me, the challenge of driving something is more fun and more important than what you're driving.

I have a Morgan 3-wheeler - it's hysterical! I've told the story before, but I'm on Mulholland Drive, and I got the thing cranked up, it's pop-pop-pop-popping at me, and I come sliding around this corner, doing everything I can do to make the corner, and just as I do that there's a cop sitting there with his radar gun.

I see him and go "oh crap," and he sort of looks at me and this steam engined thing and I go, "Hey, officer, how's it going?" And he goes, "Hey Jay, got the steamer out?" I said, "Yeah, hey - how fast was I going back there?" He goes, "Oh, you're ok - you were just hitting 35 miles an hour." I go, "35?! I thought I was going like 70!" He says, "Nope, you're ok - speed limit here is 45."

I seriously thought I was going to go to jail, but I was having a blast - the backend is hanging out as I'm coming around the corner, and it's chuggin' away, and I'm seriously thinking I'm going like nearly 100, and I'm barely doing 35?! Talk about a fun vehicle to drive.

[At this point we're all laughing, because Jay is telling the story with such intensity that it seems as though we were riding right along side him. He tells stories perfectly - you really get the feeling like you were there with him.]

R: With such a great collection of cars, how do you decide which vehicle you're going to drive to work each day?

JL: Well, I feel sort of foolish because I'm sure there are worse problems to have than deciding which car you're going to drive to work. But, you know how I do it? Sometimes I'll come home, and I'll pull out a car book. I'll be reading through it, and I'll start reading about something like the 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350, so I'll go out the garage, fire it up and drive it to work for the next few days. You know, I'm sure you guys do the same thing, right? [We all laugh again]

R: Any plans to write your own book, sort of like a "car guy" book that's written by a true "car guy?"

JL: No, not really - you know, idiot celebrities sticking their heads in where they don't belong isn't anything anyone wants to do or hear about. I'm an enthusiast, and I enjoy it, but I'm no expert. I have no desire to write a "well, here's what you do..." sort of book.

R: Ready for a hypothetical question?

JL: Let me have it.

R: 3,000-mile road trip. Pick the vehicle and your co-pilot - it can be anyone, from any time or era.

JL: I would probably take the McLaren F1, because that's the greatest car there is! It's unbelievable - the top speed is 241 miles per hour and it's extremely comfortable. The thing that people don't know about the F1, is that unlike an Enzo or some other exotic, the McLaren F1 is totally drivable. It's a road car - it was designed to be a road car from the get-go.

I mean, it's smaller than a Corvette, yet I can hold three people in it and still have room for luggage. It weighs less than a Miata, and it has 627 horsepower. You sit in the center and because you sit in the center, there's enough legroom for drivers or passengers that are seven feet and taller.

It's actually one of the only cars that I drive where I find myself moving the seat a little bit forward before I take off. It's so comfortable, and I find it to be the perfect vehicle because people who know what it is see it and tend to go nuts, and people who don't know about it just don't know about it and leave you alone.

It isn't like the Enzo with a big long nose, where as soon as you're seen it in, you're labeled as the middle-aged guy with "that problem" in his life. The car just looks right, and it drives perfectly - everything about it is just right. There's no wing, there's no spoilers, it just does what it's supposed to do. It has normal road clearance, so when you go over a speed bump or come to a driveway, you're not tearing off half of the spoilers.
You know, I remember someone lent me a new Lamborghini Diablo back in the mid-90s, and I'm leaving my driveway really slowly and I go "scccccrrrrrrrrthhhh" [makes a scraping noise] and I rip off the front spoiler. I'm going, "You know, I'm not supposed to be doing this to people's cars, I don't beat them up, I don't wreck them," but it was so embarrassing because the thing is so low and the nose is so long that as soon as you hit a pebble, you're ripping the thing up. That's not for me.
The only criticism that I have about the McLaren, and it's not really a fair criticism, but you have to be so darn careful with your speed. I mean, going 100 mph in that thing is like going 30 [mph] in any other car, and if I'm not careful, I'll look down and be like, "Oh crap, I'm going 175! I'm not an irresponsible idiot!" It's the exact opposite of the Morgan, where 35 [mph] feels like 100 [mph].

I mean, it sounds dumb, but the thing gathers speed like nothing - you put your foot in it for a second to pass someone and you're doing 140 miles an hour. It's ridiculous, but it is an absolute joy to drive, you're just going, "What the hell am I doing?"

My co-pilot...hmm, that's a great question. It would have to be someone that was interesting to talk to - I don't know. I think I'd want to take along a true automotive engineer, someone whom I'd like to ask a lot of questions of, like W.O. Bentley or Mark Birkett [our apologies if this is not the correct spelling], people who know things that I don't know are very interesting to me. I find designers, engineers, and mechanics to be very interesting.

Phil Hill would be another great guy to take along - he's an old friend of mine and would be an absolute blast to go on a road trip with.

R: Jay, thank you so much for sharing some time with us and for sharing so many great stories with our readers. We certainly appreciate it.

JL: My pleasure - this was a fun interview, and I wish all of you guys the best.

When Jay isn't busy with his television show or with his stand-up comedy tours, he can be found at home, tending to one of his cars or motorcycles. It's no wonder as to why he's on top of his professional game - he's great at what he does, and he takes time to "help the little guy." When was the last time any other celebrity stopped to help a stranded motorist?

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno can be seen Monday through Friday on NBC just after your local 10 o'clock news. If you're one of the few people who aren't tuned in to his show every night, we'd urge you to start watching - Jay is a great talk show host, a true car enthusiast and an all around great person.""

THAT'S ALL FOLKS! To avoid getting SUED for plagarism, AGAIN, The Source's from: ROADFLY Magazine(US) Issue Eight August 9, 2003. By Steve Litscher, Editor-in-Chief NOT BY JEFF LIM (me)!