Jay Leno Drives His 1957 Cadillac Coupe De Ville, It's Perfection on Wheels

1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville 11 photos
Photo: Jay Leno's Garage | YouTube
1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Jay Leno has been having a love affair with Cadillacs for ages. He owns several, and the classic ones have a special place in his heart and garage. He remembers that, once he made it in show business, the first thing he did was buy his father a Cadillac. It was his first.
It was a head-turning white Cadillac with red velour upholstery. His mother was so embarrassed that one day, while waiting at the red light, she put the window down and told the one who was staring at that car: "We're not really Cadillac people. Our son got this for us."

His dad was furious. He WAS a Cadillac person. He used to say that Cadillacs are Rolls-Royce automobiles, using the name of the British luxury brand as an adjective.

Later on, the host of Jay Leno's Garage, none other than Jay Leno (who else?) got himself a Cadillac as well. It was one of many more to come. It is a 1957 Coupe de Ville that he got from a veteran who had fought at Guadalcanal. The man sent him a letter telling him he wanted to give him a car.

He lived in Santa Clarita, not far from him. So, Jay Leno went to see the Caddy. But he wasn't sure he was doing the right thing. He felt like stealing the car from the veteran and from relatives who might want it one day.

1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Photo: Jay Leno's Garage | YouTube
The owner had a short temper and no one in the family whom he would have given the car to. According to an article published in the Hagerty Drivers Club magazine, he did have a nephew. But he was an "a**hole." His words, not Jay Leno's! So, he would not have given the Cadillac to him in a million years.

He wanted it to end up with someone who would really understand its value and who would take proper care of it. Jay Leno hesitated and told him he would visit him again in three weeks. He would then return to take if he didn't change his mind. And he didn't.

Three weeks later, Leno drove home in the Caddy. It was tan, a horrible color, its current owner says. He had some cheap aftermarket brown leather upholstery. The car had been neglected for quite some time, and its body showed that the former owner must have bumped in quite a few things over the years.

Jay Leno parked it in his garage and simply forgot about it. There were always other projects that were urgent. And then, he finally took on this one. The 1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. He wanted to have it painted in Ferrari Blue. Now he's standing next to it, all dressed in denim, almost invisible next to the huge Cadillac.

1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Photo: Jay Leno's Garage | YouTube
His team rebuilt the original engine, a 365-cubic-inch power unit, which generates 300 horsepower. It may not sound like much by today's standards. But it is enough for this car.

The Caddy looks big and heavy no matter how you look at it. Jay Leno says it is not as heavy as it seems since there are no safety features that equip the cars of today. He says it should tip the scale somewhere between 3800 and 4100 pounds (1,723 - 1,860 kilograms).

He specifically requested a modern air conditioning system, and he got it. Leno wanted to drive the car in blistering cold and scorching heat. Driving it with no AC in California wouldn't have been a good idea. Back in the late 1950s, air conditioning was by far the most expensive option.

The engine kept overheating in the beginning. So they got help from someone called "The Dutchman" from Oregon. It was he who solved the overheating issue. The original generator is still there, but the battery was transferred into the trunk for better weight distribution.

1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Photo: Jay Leno's Garage | YouTube
That is where Jay Leno keeps a photo of the former owner, in the company of former US President Bill Clinton. The World War II veteran was invited to the White House in 1994 on the anniversary of D-Day.

During the restoration, the team checked the 1957 De Ville catalog and found the blue interior. That cabin is so spacious that, Leno says, if you want to fight with your passenger, you have to slide across to punch him in the face. He probably never punched anyone in that car.

The dashboard interface has been changed, but it still looks period-correct. There is a huge amount of chrome on board. The AC controls look like they did back in the day, but the control is now electronic rather than mechanical. The old original radio is still on board and seat belts showed up in there.

His 67-year-old Caddy sports adaptive headlights, something that most automakers started using on their cars about a decade ago. Power windows, power mirrors, power steering, and power brakes are also on the menu.

1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Photo: Jay Leno's Garage | YouTube
And this is the late 1950s that we are talking about, when Cadillac outsold all the other manufacturers combined. Back then, the car was probably around $5,000. It might not sound like much, but Leno remembers that at the time, his family paid $19,500 to buy their house.

Jay Leno is also a Cadillac person like his father. He also owns a 1918 Cadillac and a 1925 Cadillac. He also brags about a 2012 CTS-V with over 600 horsepower and a six-speed manual gearbox that he refers to as a "four-seater Corvette." Corvette or not, it is clear that this 1957 Cadillac Coupe de Ville is perfection on wheels.

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