Jay Leno has 3 simple rules for buying collector cars that will go up in value

Jay Leno drives his McLaren to the 'Best Of The Best: Los Angeles'
Chris Farina | Getty Images

Jay Leno's impressive auto collection consists of more than 100 vehicles. And some of them have proven to be valuable investments: "I have a McLaren F1 I bought 20 years ago for $800,000 and somebody offered me $17 million for it the other day," the car connoisseur and host of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" tells CNBC Make It.

If you're looking to invest in antique or collector cars, Leno has three basic rules:

  1. The vehicle should be of technical or historical interest.
  2. It should be fun to drive.
  3. It should be pleasant to look at.
Jay Leno says this is the No. 1 mistake people make when buying a car

"If you have a car that you think is just beautiful and you enjoy washing and polishing it, and it's fun to drive and it's technically interesting, then it'll probably go up in value," says Leno, who is currently kicking off the Hot Wheels Legends Tour.

He never buys a car simply because he thinks it will appreciate, though. In fact, when he bought the McLaren F1, "I never thought it would go up in value," he tells CNBC Make It. "I bought it because I liked it."

"If you're just trying to buy cars for investment purposes, you'll always be disappointed because you'll never make enough money," he continues. "But if you buy something that you like, if it goes down in value, then at least you still like it."

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