VIDEO: Jay Leno Takes James Garner’s Cutlass for a Spin

GM EFI Magazine is all about going against conventionalism, breaking a few rules and giving our readers what they want to see, even if it means stepping outside of our own seamless boundaries that we had set in place during this publication’s launch. Such is the case with this particular vehicle showcased by Jay Leno’s Garage.

To clarify why this vehicle is even on our page in the first place, we should probably point out that the classic Cutlass is powered by an LS3 crate engine for simplicity, reliability and longevity while still producing more than adequate power and torque to make the Olds competitive in today’s world. Much like the LS3-powered C10 owned by Holley Performance CEO Tom Tomlinson and the twin-turbocharged ’67 Camaro that’s campaigned by a 17-yerar old girl, this ’72 Cutlass “Banshee” is one vehicle that we felt is culturally and historically significant enough to bend our rules for.

Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, actor/racer James Garner campaigned several slightly modified Oldsmobile Cutlasses and 442s that competed in off-road challenges all over The States and in Mexico, particularly this supposed 1972 example that looks more like a ’68 model. Then powered by a 455 ci. Olds powerplant positioned in the passenger compartment next to the driver, it was one of the most radical all-terrain hot rod/musclecars the world had seen.


Never actually officially owned by Garner himself, it’s largely regarded in his honor as he was the first of several racers to campaign the vehicle in its 42 years of life. Now owned by Jon Swift Sr., the car sees use today thanks to his son, John Jr., making the car a third-generation race car as being raced by three members of the Swift family, including Ray, John Senior’s father.

Jay being the rebel that he is, decided to take the classic, illegal for street use and unregistered race car for a cruise around Los Angeles. Jokingly referring to his previous outing with the C7 Z06 (when he got pull dover by the LAPD for speeding), “it can’t be any worse than last time.”


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