JT Nesbitt vs Jay Leno

Dailies, DriveApart -



Back in November, HFL contributor JT Nesbitt drove a CNG-powered roadster he built in his garage from New York to LA in 89 consecutive hours, setting a new record for alternative energy vehicles in the process. While he was out here, he and his Man Friday, Max Materne, took time out of their busy schedules (drinking with us) to appear on Jay Leno’s Garage. Yeah, yeah, it’s a car, but we’re equal opportunity gearheads and this is a rare opportunity to watch two of the smartest people you’ll ever meet discuss fuel sources and vehicle engineering.

  • ike6116

    I like when JT called the spark plug a rascal.

    Also the car is sick and anyone who complains about this post needs a punch in the dick

    • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

      Even a wicked cool car, like this one, isn’t half as interesting as a shitty motorcycle, go ahead, punch me in the dick.

      • isambard

        Consider your dick punched. Beautiful car!

    • Gene

      I assume there’s supposed to be a video in the big blank square under the story? Edit: probably the work proxy, blocks vimeo and just about everything except yoooo-tooob.

      Meh. If I want cars, I’ll watch Top Gear. Folks at work have Prowlers, Tesla S-models, and various expensive BMWs. Still meh.

      • pplassm

        “probably the work proxy, blocks vimeo and just about everything except yoooo-tooob.”

        Do you work at the same place I do?

  • zipp4

    I still don’t understand the “vs”

  • JVictor75

    I would love to find more information on converting a vehicle to CNG (or propane): where to buy tanks, where to buy injection systems and or carburetors, tuning considerations, etc.

    I’m in the beginning stages of planning a rebuild of my 1968 Chevrolet C-10 longbed and have been interested in “alternate fuel” for many years now. I have just begun the actual planning process to get it built but don’t know where to turn, who to talk to, or even what questions to ask.

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      CNG looks like a pain, just throw an old MB diesel in there and fuel-up at the McDonald’s ;)

      • BigRooster

        Hmm, an old slow MB 240D motor that sounds like a tractor or the Jag masterstroke that hums to perfection. Tough call.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      If the Internet can’t help you with a propane conversion, try asking some old farmers. Dual-fuel LP pickups weren’t uncommon a couple decades back. CNG’s probably trickier.

    • JT Nesbitt

      Bi-fuel systems are readily available. Google “impco” — JT

      • RMUT
  • dan

    From 1974 to 1992 all Morgans imported into the USA were retrofitted by dealers to run on propane in order to meet emission standards.

    • JT Nesbitt

      Propane, or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is a totally different fuel than Natural Gas. NG is for the most part, an unrefined or “natural” source of energy. It is not an imported fuel, and not only produced domestically, but primarily locally. The input required to produce it is much less than petroleum products and the delivery system much more efficient. It is piped in rather than trucked in. — JT

      • Scott-jay

        And, USA has proven reserves to last eleven years.

        • JT Nesbitt

          Add a zero to that figure and you would be closer to the truth. I has been stated (accurately, I might add) that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas. — JT

          • Scott-jay

            How do I underline proven?

  • BenP

    This is a work of art.

  • kidchampion

    JT seems really bright. Who is the other “smartest” person you were referring to?

  • guy

    Very well done J.T. Now we need a natural gas motor cycle. Guy

    • ursus

      With the tank between your legs only for Nomex skinny jeans days?
      Does anyone know what the make/model of the integrated lights on the Magnolia is?

      • JT Nesbitt

        The headlights are (unfortunately) a discontinued Piaa design. There are a few out there in aftermarket warehouses for cars and Piaa still stocks some parts for them.
        Just as electric motorcycles work pretty well, and electric cars are a scam, the right application for the fuel dictates the vehicle choice. Sadly, a natural gas motorcycle would be terribly impractical. — JT

  • Deltablues

    Say what you will about Leno, but he is a gearhead and his comment about the Speed Triple motor is spot-on. It is an ugly engine. Very interesting video.

    • BigRooster

      He was speaking to the Rocket III not the Speed Triple. The Speed Triple’s motor isnt bad looking at all.

      • Deltablues

        Oh, yes, right, good point. I do find it amazing how different motorcycle engines can be from one another in sound, power, and feel. That is where the true beauty can be found. My Daytona 675 is quite a bit different from my friend’s Street Triple R, even though both engines are roughly the same except for tuning.

  • Michael

    I’ve had the pleasure of becoming a friend of JT’s this year and I even had the chance to take a spin in the magnolia special with JT.

    They don’t make many like JT anymore….great guy and an awesome american coach builder.

  • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

    That was pretty neat.

  • smoke4ndmears

    Lovely coachwork and attention to detail! Was Leno eyeing it for his collection?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Don’t think JT would sell it at any price.

  • Core

    I thought this was really cool. But it really pissed me off on how Jay kept ragging on video games.

    If you want to see why people are not productive.. look at public schooling.

    Place the blame where its at.

    • Ax

      Notice he didn’t rag on people who watch (late night) television.

    • RocketSled

      I dunno. One of my kids has had a helluva time learning how to read. Our public school system detected it early and gave him a TON of additional instruction to get him up to a level. Blanket statements being what they are and all that. ;)

  • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

    Jaw dropping good stuff. Well done, JT.

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    Awesome build and great video. JT, you were great with Leno. The arm around his shoulder while in the car made it look like you were driving away from your wedding. I’m guessing there’s not much room for an arm rest between passengers?

    So why isn’t natural gas offered as an alternative to oil? Because it deoesn’t satisfy the carbon critiques? Is there not enough of it?

    I just watched the film Collapse last night. Very gloom and doom because of the end of oil. This CNG conversion gives me hope our new Mazda2 won’t be useless in some years.

    • JT Nesbitt

      I would argue that Natural Gas IS in fact offered as an alternative to gasoline, otherwise, how would Max and I have been able to drive from New York to Los Angeles? We only used publicly available fueling stations, and did not have a chase vehicle by the way.
      The real question that you are asking is – “why haven’t our politicians and big corporations made it easy for the gen-pop to run on NG?”
      If you are counting on these two entities to solve our collective problems, you are displaying a poverty of the imagination, and a lack of American can-do spirit.
      Is it easy? No it is not. The most rewarding things in life never are, but I believe that true progress is almost always achieved by individuals rather than collectives which, in their own self interests, tend to maintain the status-quo. — JT

      • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

        Awesome answer. I definitely do not expect government and corporations to solve problems, but it’s curious that natural gas is all but ignored in mainstream discussion of alternative energies. Seriously, ethanol gets massive subsidies and CAFE consideration?

      • AJ

        Awesome answer.
        Awesome, too, that a guy who is not without other distractions can find the time to respond directly on this forum.

        • ike6116

          Well, this is the motorcycle publication of record.

    • Denzel

      …and the further implication that an arm had to be there for an entire cross country trip… comittment…

  • Michael

    It’s a sweet ride, no doubt.

    One question nagging me through the whole video, and I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the clip:

    What happens to the side fuel tank in a T-bone collision? Hell, even a sideswipe seems likely to cause a rupture. I admit to being uneducated about it, but it seems like two thin-skinned bombs just waiting for a spark.

    I know gasoline is an explosive also, but it’s a liquid and generally drips downward in a leak, where natgas flows out in 360 degrees, which seems to me easier to catch a spark and detonate.

    Besides, we know from Mythbusters that most car crashes don’t end in horrific explosions :-) whereas it seems with this vehicle that would be more likely.

    What am I missing here?

    • JT Nesbitt

      Good question. Methane (the combustible and primary component of Natural Gas) is in and of itself non flammable. It needs a catalyst such as oxygen, and time in which to mix with it. If a rupture occurred with a tank, the gas coming out of it is moving too fast to mix. It would extinguish a match held up to it. That is why your kitchen stove burner has those little holes in it, to allow air in, and slow the gas allowing combustion. You must remember that a normal fill pressure is in the range of 4000 psi. That might sound scary until you realize that the burst pressure of type 4 tanks is in excess of 8000 psi. The strength of these tanks is astounding, yet I can pick up one of the big primary tanks and walk around the shop with it! You can shoot these tanks with a rifle and they will not rupture, and they are definitely stronger than the steel chassis that they are attached to, and add stiffness as an added perk.
      Because methane is lighter than air, any leaks, big or small, dissipate upwards and away from ignition sources, unlike gasoline which pools under the vehicle.
      It is my experience that Natural Gas is no more or less safe than Gasoline. Both are lethal in the hands of idiots. As long as the lines are run correctly and checked for leaks, and the install is sound (proper and robust tank mounts, expansion loops, correct wall thickness of lines, proper fittings and attention to detail on the threads and seals) it is, as I have proven, a safe and viable alternative to Gasoline. — JT

  • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

    Did Leno steal his knowledge like he does all of his bits?
    That guy gets way, way to much press from all of you moto journos in my opinion. Reggie Jackson had a huge car collection…… nobody went to him for his sage moto advice before the fire. F Jay. Thief.

    • JT Nesbitt

      So, am I to assume that you have been to his garage, and subsequently formed this opinion? — JT

      • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

        No, I’ve paid attention to his career as a hack. I own a house, that doesn’t make me an architect. I was a Marine, that doesn’t make me a specialist in military strategy, I own, ride and work on my motorcycles, that makes me just like a million other guys. The difference between him and ‘us’ is he has hacked his way to fame and fortune and in the idiotic minds of Americans that somehow qualifies him as an expert. Interview people who aren’t looking to make a buck off of their noteriety AND who are innovators and I’ll pay attention. Interview Jay and I just feel sad for us as a nation. He is the motorsports equivalent of George Will and baseball.

        • ike6116

          You do realize that he actually was a good stand-up in the 80s? That most comedians disrespect him for what they see as him putting that talent aside and peddling the “Tonight Show” broad hackery that appeals to the middle of the country.

          I’ve never heard anyone accuse him of stealing material like a Robin Williams or Carlos Mencia.

          Jay Leno has a great knowledge of cars, it’s clearly a passion. His garage affords him the ability to fabricate nearly any part they can’t order, his expansive collection of all types of motor vehicles affords him a knowledge you can’t get anywhere else. Do you know what it’s like to drive a Stanley Steamer? Or what it takes to restore a Duesenberg that’s been left in someone’s garage for 40 years? Jay Leno does. Even if he doesn’t do it himself he cuts the checks and sits there and watches and it would seem he’s pretty hands on.

          I don’t like the guys’ comedy either but I don’t really understand resenting him because he has the means to indulge his passion.

  • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

    I won’t get into a pissing match over his shitty comedy. He is a hack, the entire comic industry feels that way…. wait, the people who don’t suck up to him that are in that industry feel that way.
    Again, owning stuff, watching it get fixed, reading the books and all of that don’t make him expert of anything. There is a difference between having actual useful knowledge and knowing something. i know a lot about black holes from what I’ve seen on tv and read in Popular Science…. compared to someone who knows nothing at all about them. I’m not arrogant or stupid enough to pass myself off as an astronomer. He reads, watches, pays, markets. That doesn’t make him an expert by any means. Take away the name, you take away the fame and then he is just a self-absorbed kooky rich guy with tons of cars. Just like Reggie Jackson.

    • JT Nesbitt

      Do you know what his profession was before he got his big break in stand up comedy? — JT

  • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

    No…. and that was in the 1970′s so who cares. That would be like asking me if I should’ve run the Iraq war because I was in Desert Storm in 1991. Or if I should be in the NFL because I played high school football in the mid 1980′s. Again you confuse knowing stuff with true, working, useful knowledge that has been applied in the 1st person by someone. Tell me he was an engineer, I can show you 1000′s who worked here in my town for Kodak who knew what they knew and now are so far out of the engineering game that they wouldn’t be allowed to tell a 25 year old kid how to set up a lathe. People can make up all the excuses they want for why they think he is ‘important’ to the industry but it all comes down to him being famous and he is famous because he is a backstabbing, lying hack. Tell him I said that this weekend down in Hermosa where I’m sure he will be as always…. shilling.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Who the fuck cares? This isn’t the place to argue about the merits of some tv personality. A part of the HFL crew just got some major exposure for a very, very cool project. Let’s focus on that please. Any further comments about Leno will be deleted.

      • JT Nesbitt

        Amen. Any questions about Natural Gas powered vehicles? — JT

        • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

          Yes. There should be more of them on the road, preferably buses, why are there not? Or am I not famous enough for my opinion to matter? ( I’d hate to hold you to that standard of staying on topic in the comments section Wes. I know…. it’s YOUR site.)
          And for the record, as a professional firefighter I have a small knowledge of emergency response protocols for incidents involving CNG and electric vehicles, small because they are rare here and training is just being rolled out. I won’t claim to be an expert on those so I didn’t reply to the guy a few posts up asking about that. I know I’m not that important.

        • RMUT

          your thoughts on the environmental concerns with fracking?

  • paul redican

    Yeah does this natural gas reserve that jt mentions will last for another 100 years come from ‘fracking’ hydraulic fracture drilling. ??? If it is then god help you all.

    • JT Nesbitt

      Fracking, yes, good topic. I have personally witnessed the process, been on site, and met the people who do the drilling. What most people don’t have, is an understanding of the depth at which the technique is used. 10,000 feet is pretty normal. At that depth, the naturally occurring hydrocarbons are as poisonous as any introduced by man. It is a witches brew down there (obviously as oil is produced from even shallower depths), so containment for the gas on it’s journey to the surface is what isolates it from the water table (the water table being much shallower as anyone who has drilled a water well can attest). That containment is critical, and I concede that it could be a problem, both for the gas coming out, and fracking fluid going down.
      Is the process idiot proof? Well of course not, but the science is there, I have seen it first hand. I have also seen the catastrophic results of offshore drilling (think Deepwater Horizon) and on balance….conclude that the process is at least as safe. The fact that the process is used by big soulless corporations is troubling (as are most things that big companies do), and stringent regulation on the federal level is fine by me.
      So we are collectively faced with a choice, do nothing and rely on offshore drilling and imported oil from assholes who want to keep us addicted to their product, all the while causing severe damage to the environment, or achieve greater energy independence keeping our money local, and utilize a cleaner domestic fuel. The choice is pretty obvious to me, what do you think? — JT

      • http://www.mcfw.com/ quint7

        Living in the Marcellous Shale area of NY as myself and my relatives do, the issue here is traffic. People are concerned about the frack liquid contaminating the well water they get off of their land, but the other concern (the larger one to many who live there for the rural-ness of the area) is the 24/7 heavy truck traffic that comes with the gas industry.
        NY already has some of the crappiest roads in the country as far as maintnance goes (we have something like 6400 bridges in need of serious repair too) and that is due to the freeze/thaw cycles we have 6 months out of the year and the chemicals (mainly salt) that we use to try and make them safe for winter driving not to mention that lack of money for repairs.
        I’m all for getting gas out of the ground (oil, minerals, etc too) but fracking is a fairly recent development when compared with conventional drilling which is how gas has ben tapped here in NY for decades. Fracking seems like a cost cutting measure and the lower costs don’t seem to be showing up on my utility bill. The choice isn’t frack or do nothing, the choice is frack or do it the old way. Profit over people? We need jobs here in NY, if the old way is more skilled labor intensive that would seem to be the way to get the gas and create work. Fracking sounds like it relies on unskilled labor (mainly truck drivers) to accomplish the same goal which to me means it is all about profits over people.The gas isn’t going anywhere.

  • Filippo

    This car is stunning. There is obviously something quite beautiful about the mix of art influences and machine craft. Unbelievable that you are also running an alternative fuel.
    Well done.
    Can this be carried over to bikes?

    • Scott-jay

      “Can this [styling] be carried over to bikes?”
      Retro? We got retro out the yin-yang.

      • Filippo

        Technology not [styling]

  • Lawrences

    mine rare earth minerals on one side of the globe – haul to other side – make batteries – haul to another side of the globe – install in car – give car to hollywood people to promote – burn coal or gas or flood a valley or use nuclear to generate electricity in someone else’s back yard – build more wires to bring electricity to hollywood to plug in car – give tax breaks – print huge manuals for emergency rescue people to figure out how to get you out of the vehicle without electrocuting everyone – call carbon dioxide gas “carbon” in all news releases in good propaganda fashion – repeat as necessary.
    makes no sense to me either JT