The garage that impressed Jesus: Jerry Seinfeld’s multi-million-dollar car collection

The comedian Jerry Seinfeld with his 1955 Porsche 550 – one of just 90 models
The comedian Jerry Seinfeld with his 1955 Porsche 550 – one of just 90 models

In the American Dad Christmas special of 2009, Jesus Christ visits New York and is taken by Ricky Rapture to “the lair of the Antichrist, the dark epicentre of all that is evil… Jerry Seinfeld’s car garage.”

Ricky tells Jesus that this Manhattan garage holds all the comedian’s Porsches. “Really? Seinfeld has his own car garage,” says Jesus. “What is the deal with that?”

The deal is that Seinfeld is one of the richest comedians that ever lived – his personal fortune is estimated at more than £750 million – and his eponymous hit television sitcom gave the Brooklyn-born comedian spare millions to indulge his car hobby in the most extravagant fashion.

The first episode of Seinfeld aired on 5 July 1989 – as The Seinfeld Chronicles – and the first time he met co-creator Larry David was outside a comedy club in New York in 1975. David was leaning on Seinfeld’s treasured first car, a 1973 Fiat 128 sports coupé. He had bought that Italian classic after graduating from Massapequa High School on Long Island. “Nobody on Long Island had a European car,” he recalled.

Perhaps the memory of David’s sticky paw prints on his gorgeous Fiat struck a nerve. Seinfeld is obsessive about keeping his cars spotlessly clean. By the time he and David had made their fortunes from television, Seinfeld decided that he wanted a bespoke place to house what was by then a fleet of antique and new cars, having previously kept them in a rented hangar at Santa Monica Airport, at his New York apartment building and at his estate in the Hamptons.

Seinfeld's Manhattan garage is ranged over three storeys, and has its own 'fleet management team'

In 1999, Seinfeld spent more than a million pounds buying a multi-storey brownstone building at 138 West 83rd Street and then another half a million pounds to transform the former plumbing business into a garage. His deluxe care home for cars, on prize Manhattan real-estate, took five years to renovate. When it was finished, it had climate-controlled subterranean parking for more than 20 cars, and an elevator to an 850-square-foot living space that included a pool table, an office, bathroom and kitchenette. The comedian now employs his own dedicated fleet management team to look after his cars.

Seinfeld, which ran for 180 episodes from 1989 to 1998, had lots of car-related plotlines, including a funny episode called The Smelly Car, in which Jerry and Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are overpowered by the rancid body odour left by a parking valet in Seinfeld’s BMW. There is also a witty episode in which George Costanza buys a Chrysler LeBaron Convertible just because the salesman tells him the previous owner was actor Jon Voight.

Seinfeld’s colleagues were amused by his car obsession. Jason Alexander (George) and Michael Richards (Kramer), knowing his desire for meticulous-looking vehicles, once threw leaves on the roof of one of Seinfeld’s cars when it was parked on the NBC lot during filming. Seinfeld now has an app on his smartphone that allows him to watch a 24-hour live feed of his garage.

Seinfeld and his wife Jessica with one of his rare Porsches shortly after their 2000 marriage Credit: Getty Images

In 2016, Seinfeld sold 17 classics from his estimated 150-car collection for £18million, including three of his precious Porsches: a 1959 GT speedster, a 911 series and a 1955 Spyder 550 – the same model and pearl-grey colour James Dean was driving when he was killed that year. Selling them must have been painful for Seinfeld, as Porsches are his favourite make, even though he joked about their “swinging-orthodontist image”. At one time, Seinfeld owned 47 Porsches. The year he bought the garage, he gave his future wife Jessica Sklar a 1958 Porsche 1600 Speedster as a wedding present. She seems to tolerate her husband’s passion for cars, and they even co-chaired the Bridgehampton classic car show in 2000.

Following stand-up shows in London this month at the Hammersmith Apollo, Seinfeld’s television show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee starts its 11th season on Netflix on 19 July. The series, which started in 2012, was partly inspired by a car journey back from Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his friend Barry Marder. The pair videotaped themselves talking nonsense while travelling in a Volkswagen Bug, and the idea for a new hit show was born.

Seinfeld described Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee as “an anti-show about a non-event” (Seinfeld, remember, was famously the “show about nothing”) and there have been lots of amusing episodes, with such guest luminaries as Mel Brooks, Tina Fey, Steve Martin and Ellen DeGeneres. Seinfeld says the show works because most of the guests are comedians and he can relate to this “weird, subset Pekinese breed of human”. The only person to ignore an offer to appear is Woody Allen.

The most famous guest was Barack Obama and Seinfeld met the President at the White House in 2015. Seinfeld was driving a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray. “I thought the coolest car, American-made, for the coolest guy to ever hold this office,” Seinfeld said.

Although Obama’s successor is also a car nut – Donald Trump’s collection includes a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and a 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom – his feud with Seinfeld make him an unlikely future guest. Seinfeld once described Trump as “a water-gun clown" with “a terrifying face”. After Seinfeld pulled out of a charity show organised by Trump’s son, the future President wrote a letter mocking Seinfeld’s reality series The Marriage Ref, saying he regretted appearing in 2010 on this “failure” of a show.

Trump and Allen aside, guests are keen to appear on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and the new season features Ricky Gervais, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Sebastian Maniscalco, Martin Short, Mario Joyner, Melissa Villaseñor and Bridget Everett. Seinfeld says that “part of what makes the show watchable is it’s moving… you need kinetic energy”.

Seinfeld is a confident driver, although he has had his own scary moments behind the wheel. In April 2008, the brakes failed on his 1967 Fiat BTM during a Saturday-night drive in East Hampton. He swerved to avoid hitting anyone, causing the car to flip onto its side. He walked away unscathed, and the town’s police chief, Todd Sarris, praised Seinfeld’s manoeuvre, saying it “probably avoided a very serious accident”.

Seinfeld and fellow comic car-collector Jay Leno in 2007 Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The comedian has also been a family car instructor. “Jerry taught our daughter Sascha to drive stick shift on our very old Land Rover Defender,” Jessica Seinfeld told Bazaar in 2017. “It’s a beast. Every one of his cars has a history. He has one that we call ‘the Countess’, because it was owned by this badass countess who drove it through Africa long ago.”

Seinfeld told talk-show host Seth Meyers that the ’73 Porsche Carrera RS was an example of human perfection, claiming that “at just the right time, just the right people made just the right thing". The comedian also supposedly said – in all seriousness – that his idea of a perfect vacation is a visit to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

Seinfeld, who turned 65 in April, was recently asked by the New York Times what he thought would happen to his huge collection of cars when he was dead. “My wife’s going to liquidate it, and that’s fine with me. I want people like me to enjoy them,” the comedian said. “It should be like blowing on a dandelion.”

Jerry Seinfeld plays the Hammersmith Apollo on July 12; Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee returns to Netflix on July 19 

Is Jerry Seinfeld’s multi-million-dollar car collection the most impressive garage you've ever seen? Which other high-profile celebrities could boast such a collection? Let us know in the comments section below.