Jay Leno, The Rock and other celebs share the first cars they ever drove

Dwayne Johnson and Jay Leno
NBC | Getty Images

Everyone has to start somewhere, including rich athletes and celebrities. Before they were making headlines, Jay Leno, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and other A-listers were living relatively normal lives, driving modest, and in some cases very cheap, cars.

Here's what Leno, The Rock and other wealthy stars first drove.

Jay Leno: 1934 Ford pickup truck

The car connoisseur and host of "Jay Leno's Garage" bought his first car at age 14. It cost him $350, which he paid with savings from his summer jobs.

"I bought a '34 Ford pickup truck and it didn't run and my dad said, 'You've got two years before you get your license, so get busy working on it,'" he tells CNBC Make It. "I learned how to fix it and make it run."

Jay Leno has no debt thanks in large part to abiding by this one rule

Alex Rodriguez: 1986 Mazda 323

The former MLB star's first car was a hand-me-down from his brother.

"It was a 1986 323," Rodriguez tells CNBC Make It. "It was a funny blue and it was a stick shift and I loved it. It was my prized possession."

The one problem with it was that sometimes it wouldn't come to a complete stop, he recalls: "So every time I saw a red light … I had to actually slow down and time it."

Nnamdi Asomugha: 1997 Nissan Maxima

The former NFL player also received a hand-me-down from his brother: "A '97 Nissan Maxima, the car I drove to prom," he tells Wealthsimple.

Asomugha, who transitioned into acting after retiring from football, still drives his first car. "That car is the one thing that everyone makes fun of me for," he says. "Even after I started earning good money, I was still in the mentality of 'I know this is all I need so I'm doing fine.'"

Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris drives a $2 car

Dwayne Johnson: 1979 Thunderbird

"I was 15 years old, living in Nashville, Tennessee and I was hanging out in the bars in Broad Street," Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson tells entertainment reporter Kjersti Flaa. "I was hanging out with a buddy of mine and a crackhead came into the bar and asked us if we wanted to buy a car. I said, 'For how much?' He said, '75 bucks.' I said, 'I got 40 bucks. I'll come back and give you the other 35.'"

Johnson handed over the $40 and "he gave me the keys to a '79 Thunderbird and I drove away."

While "I shouldn't have been hanging out in bars, certainly not talking to crackheads," the actor says, he did have his drivers license: "I came from Hawaii, so in Hawaii, I got my drivers license when I was 14."

Ultimately, though, "the joke was on me," says Johnson. "Because he didn't give me the gas key, so I couldn't put gas in it. I trashed it at a Burger King."

Barack Obama: A $900 jalopy

In a 2012 White House briefing, when the former president was asked about whether he's out of touch with average Americans, Obama shared some details about his first car: "I bought my first car for about $900. It had a big hole in the floor that allowed you to see the road, so I knew my wife wasn't marrying me for my money. We had credit-card debt we hadn't paid off. Our personal finances ... weren't stable until fairly recently."

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