By Brian Baker, Principal Historian
At 16 years old, 2020/2021 AHF Inductee Jay Leno purchased his first vehicle. It was a 1934 Ford pickup truck. 1968 AHF Inductee Edsel Ford’s styling direction for the 1932 Ford was part of the influence that made these 1930s trucks so iconic.
While working on his Ford truck, Leno slammed one of the doors too hard and accidently broke the window glass. Unfortunately, he had no cash to repair it as he had put all his money into the upholstery.
One day, he was sitting in class looking out the window at his truck when it began to rain. With no window, Leno’s upholstery repairs would be ruined. Just then, two people pulled up with a tarp and covered the cab of his truck. It was his parents; they knew how much that first vehicle meant to Leno and came to his rescue without being asked.
Although his parents didn’t always understand his career choices, they were always supportive of his decisions. His mother always expected him to be a salesman or a mechanic.
Given Leno’s broad social impact on car culture, it seems his mom was close to the mark. His influence as a salesman and his mechanical knowledge of special vehicles has influenced millions.