It’s not every day Jay Leno calls you up, asking if you happen to have a radiator for a vintage Merlin aircraft engine. But that’s just what recently happened to Al Mickeloff, marketing manager for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.

At first, all Mickeloff knew was that “an American celebrity collector” was on the lookout for a radiator to go with a Second-World-War-era Merlin engine. Those are rare, but he found one, and shortly after negotiations began with a middleman, Leno himself called the museum to finalize the purchase of the radiator.

He told Mickeloff he needed it to go with a Merlin he had mounted on a trailer as a display engine, which he said is “fun to fire up,” and “magnificent” to see run.

But with the museum doing fine for funds, Mickeloff said he didn’t necessarily want cash for the part, and so instead asked if Leno would be willing to donate a prize for the museum’s charity auction this fall.

Leno said he wouldn’t have time to go for a flight on the museum’s Lancaster bomber (powered by four of the storied Merlins) with the successful bidder, as the museum hoped he might. Instead, he offered a two-hour visit to his Big Dog Garage, where the Burbank-based comedian keeps his epic vehicle collection.

That was that: Leno has his radiator, which will appear in a future video of the running trailer-mounted Merlin, and the museum has a great prize for its auction this September, to which just 800 tickets will be sold.

Other items up for grabs at the auction will be tickets to a live taping of talent show The Voice; pistons from engines that powered the Lancaster’s trans-Atlantic flight; and other WWII memorabilia.

All that remains up in the air is whether the lucky Leno prize winner will get to meet the comedian, who may or may not be at the garage. Leno says, though, he will “certainly try to be.”

(via The Hamilton Spectator)