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If you’re sitting on a first-generation Toyota Prius, you may want to tuck it in the garage and throw a car cover over it. Jay Leno, auto enthusiast, car collector, and TV host, says the first Prius will one day be a collector’s car.

"I think you'll see the first-generation Priuses where people will say look how simple it is compared to the modern stuff,” Leno told Business Insider in a recent interview. When it was introduced, the Prius was simple.

The Prius the U.S. received after Toyota took the car international in 2000 – after introducing the hybrid in Japan several years prior – has a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine under the hood. The engine paired with a 274-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and permanent magnet AC electric motor. The engine developed 70 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque while the electric motor produced 44 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

When Toyota introduced the Prius, it returned an EPA-rated 48 miles per gallon combined, which was later reduced to 41 mpg combined after a restructuring of the fuel economy tests in 2008. That’s still impressive for over 15 years ago. It came with air conditioning as standard but otherwise was sparse in features and design, inside and out.

But why will it become a collector car?

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"It's whatever you grew up in. It's whatever you went to your prom in. It's whatever your dad used to take you to Sunday ice cream in,” Leno told the publication. "That's the car the next generation will collect. It's as much about the memories as it is about the car.”

This makes sense. Look at Radwood that’s popped up, highlighting cars built between 1980 and 1999. They’re not all collectors like American muscle from the late 1960s, but kids who grew up riding in the backseat of those cars and later driving them have fond memories. That’s what will drive the collector’s market going forward.

If you think Leno may be getting a little soft in his old age by announcing the Prius as the next great collector car, don’t’ worry. In the same interview with Business Insider, he said the Mazda MX-5 Miata would also be a sought-after car.

"I think the Miata will be the Ford Mustang of the next generation," Leno added.

Electric cars from the last few decades are also likely to command a high price down the road. According to Leno, someone recently offered him $440,000 for one. That’s a lot of money for an EV.

Source: Business Insider

Gallery: First-Gen Toyota Prius

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