National Auto Museum: The Harrah Collection

We agreed to pick up a friend at the Reno Airport, who was arriving in the evening so we decided to go early and make a day of it.

I have to preface this post. I love old, classic cars and I have wanted to go to this museum for quite some time. Also, I took 100 photos today so while this may seem like a long blog entry, I really did edit myself.
Bill Harrah is a very famous guy in these parts. He started his success in Reno with a bingo parlor and now stands as one of the most influential figures in gaming history.

He had always had a love of cars, so with the success of his enterprises he began to purchase automobiles, which grew to the largest, most significant collection of its time (over 1400 cars).

After his death in 1978, Holiday Inn purchased "Harrah's" and planned to break up the collection at auction. An outcry by the people of Reno and Sparks led to Holiday Inn donating 175 vehicles to establish the National Automobile Museum, a collection also referred as The Harrah Collection.
There is definitely a “Wow!” factor here. What I also delighted in was the artifacts from the various eras (collections of hat pins, purses, stockings).
This is the winner of the the 1908 New York to Paris Race, a 1907 Thomas Flyer.  The exhibit on this race was intriguing. It was an automobile competition consisting of drivers, from various countries, attempting to travel from New York to Paris. This was a considerable challenge given the state of automobile technology and road infrastructure at the time. Only three of six contestants completed the course. The winner was the United States team, driving this actual car. Wow.

There were several autos showcased in movies including this 1912 Rambler 73-4CC Cross Country – It appeared in the movie, Titanic, in the dock scene prior to the ship’s departure from Southampton, England.
I was really smitten with this 1921 Ford T Kampkar. This cool design pre-dated the RV craze by 50 years. The body was engineered by Samuel Lambert, makers of Listerine Mouth Wash. It could seat six adults and provide sleeping room for four and featured a folding table, two-burner stove, eight-gallon water supply and storage for blankets, clothing and food in several lockers. In addition, it came with a camping set with cooking and eating utensils packed in a small trunk. This Kampkar in Mr. Harrah's collection came with all of the original supplies.

We arrived for an exceptional guided tour by docent Norm, where we saw more than 200 astounding cars with authentic street scenes and sounds. The facades brought displays to life; a hardware store here, a movie theatre there. We were super excited that they had a designated "photo op". 



Is this not gorgeous? It is a 1921 Rolls-Royce Ghost Boat Tail Speedster.

This Phantom Corsair is a prototype automobile (and the only one) built in 1938. It is a six-passenger 2-door sedan that was designed by Rust Heinz of the H. J. Heinz family. Although sometimes dismissed as a failure because it never entered production, the Corsair is regarded as ahead of its time because of its futuristic features, and styling cues such as faired-in fenders and a low profile. It was built in 1938. That still blows me away.
The Allstate was another name of the Henry J American automobile, built by  Henry J. Kaiser that was offered for sale through Sears, Roebuck during the 1952 and 1953 model years. Yes, a catalog car.
This is the famous car from Rebel Without a Cause,  and is a 1949 Mercury Series 9CM Six-Passenger Coupe, driven by James Dean in the movie. I love the image of him standing by the car.

This manatee look-alike is really an Airomobile, a one off prototype that although stimulated great interest, never made it into production. Plans for the Airomobile were first drawn up in 1934 by Paul Lewis in the USA. Lewis believed that the 3-wheeled configuration would meet his needs for streamlining and economy. After many technical problems were sorted out with the the vehicle it was eventually built in 1937 but never marketed.
I think it is amazing that the museum houses JFK's 1962 Cadillac that he used in Florida. It's extra cool that they have a  photo of him riding in it.

When this Museum opened in 1989, it was reported to have set the standard for auto museums worldwide with its extensive collection and innovative design. We were extremely pleased to meander around vintage, classic and special interest automobiles, rare and one-of-a-kind wonders, dynamic race cars and one of the finest Horseless Carriage collections in the world.  It was as if we had traveled back in time as we strolled down authentic street scenes, beginning with the turn-of-the-20th century. We were there for almost four hours and we didn't see it all. What a collection. This is definitely a great way to pass the time in Reno.

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1 comments:

Nesbit Library rocks! said...

Way cool!

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