Courthouse Roundup: Verdicts Roll In by Mike Davis (12/27/2004)
In a variety of lawsuits against Detroit, automakers are being cleared.
One of the finest car collections I’ve ever seen exhibited is all but hidden in a most unlikely place – off the infamous “Strip” of
Other than its odd location, The Auto Collections is distinguished by three factors, (1) relative to other collector car displays, it is HUGE, (2) everything in the collection is for sale and (3) it has some of the best labeling on cars I’ve ever seen in a museum. But of course, it is NOT a museum in the strictest sense; it’s an emporium of beautifully restored or original low-mileage collector cars.
Indeed, it calls itself “The World’s Largest Classic Car Showroom.”
Nevertheless, it’s worth a trip to
Another hotel-and-casino called New York New York features a tower that looks like a chopped off (from the bottom) NYC Chrysler Building while also luring guests with a miniature Brooklyn Bridge alongside The Strip. The whole city is faux.
There’s an admission charge to the collection, but free passes can be found readily through their http://autocollections.com Web site or with coupons in the welcome magazines found in
About 125 vehicles are on display here in no particular order. Most seem to be Pebble Beach Concours quality. Having no order or interpretation is what separates The Auto Collection from a “real” museum, where generally there is a story to be told via the selection of models on display and their story boards or labels as, for example, at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich.
As noted above, the labels for the cars are very complete and in most cases quote an asking price. And the prices seemed in line with Hershey “askings” and auctions. I didn’t look at every car closely, but noted a range from $17,500 for a ’65 Beetle convertible to—take a deep breath—$1.950 million for a 1933 Duesenberg Bohman & Schwartz Disappearing Top Roadster.
The day I visited the collection, the latter car had been out for a road test by a, needless to say, prosperous real estate developer who was considering its purchase. That dashed my thoughts that winning gamblers constituted the obvious buyers for cars in the collection.
As in many collections and museums but especially as you’d expect in
Curiously, a 1953 Buick Roadmaster with factory air and added filtration system, also purportedly owned by Hughes, was among the auction offerings in
A rather mundane but neat car was a dark green 1939 Chrysler Royal sedan owned by Johnny Carson, who just died Sunday, January 23. According to the label, this was the car in which Johnny drove his date to their senior prom in
Generally, though, there were few Chrysler or Ford products among the cars on display. Favored were exotic Europeans, Cadillacs, Chevrolets and a handful of Packards. Also worth mentioning: a really rare Nash-Healey coupe.
Among “original” low mileage cars displayed were: ’64 Chevrolet 409 Biscayne two-door sedan with 975 miles at $90,000, ’66 Ford Fairlane convertible with 660 miles at $37,500; ’75 Olds 88 convertible with 6694 miles at $25,000, and 1976 Cadillac El Dorado convertible (“Last”) with 3605 miles at $39,500.
The exotics ran the gamut of Aston-Martin, Bentley, Duesenberg, Jag, Isotta Fraschini, Lancia, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche and Rolls. Among the more unusual exotics were a lavender-colored 1948 Cadillac with custom convertible body by Saoutchik of Paris, priced at $650,000, a car I’d seen before at the
The Horch resembled the Mercedes 300 series and sported the four interlocked circles of Auto Union, an Audi predecessor, on its grille; it was made in what became
Not quite exotic but rare and desirable was a 1957 Porsche 356A Model 1600 speedster, tagged at $125,000.
Altogether, it was clear that the
The collection has a curious history. In 1959, a Norwegian builder from
When Englestad knew he was dying of cancer a couple of years ago, he disposed of much of his collection, but turned over the operation to his son-in-law Richie Clyne and Don Williams of the Blackhawk to run as a business rather than as a sideshow to the casino.
The unusual truck in the collection, for sale like everything else in the area, was Englestad’s black 1949 3/4-ton Chevrolet stake bed truck, restored in 1981. The asking was $32,500. Would they really sell their heritage down the river? You bet, this is Vegas! And every asking price, said Thompson, was of course negotiable.
He tried to persuade your Museum Hawk to make an offer on one of the beauties. Clearly he had not dealt with many journalists before. I told him, there are many here I’d like to have a chance to drive but, thanks, I didn’t want to actually own one. More fun to write about them.