We spent several hours in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, looking at their fine collection of 225 vehicles. They range in year of manufacture from 1892 to 1980. About 25% are one of a kind or of a few known to exist. There were customized cars and vehicles belonging to celebrities – Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis, John F. Kennedy, John Wayne, Bing Crosby, etc. The mildly customized 49 Mercury used in James Dean’s last movie is there.
The heart of the collection (125 cars) comes from William Harrah’s vast collection; the non-profit which now owns them has added about 100. Included are racing cars made for Indy, Baja 1000, Bonneville Salt Flats, and Grand Prix, plus dragsters, funny cars, and midgets. Placards with each of the cars gave their history and special characteristics. One will not find a copy of Uncle Dick’s Oldsmobile here, nor of any of the more prosaic cars I have owned.
Here are a few of the cars which struck my fancy enough to take pictures of them. Enjoy!
The first car displayed to those entering the museum is this customized 1938 Cord named the Phantom Corsair designed by and built for a member of the Heinz family. It seats four across in the front seat with two more facing the rear with their backs to the back of the front seat. Reportedly it could do 115 mph!
Many additional gauges were added to the dashboard.
General view of one of the four main display galleries. I was amazed by the sheer bulk of the early luxury cars. The practice was for the luxury automobile builder to provide just the platform (drive train, frame etc.) and for the body to be made by a separate coach builder. Remember Cadillac's advertising “Body by Fisher”? Cars displayed used gasoline, diesel, steam, electricity and turbines for power.
Early Ford Model T roadster.
The only car we were allowed to touch was this model T coupe
Model T motor home! Lots of special bodies could be bought for both the Ts and As.
Vehicles specially built to run in the Baja 1000. No 10 is a Volkswagen.
This 1907 Thomas Flyer is one of the icons of the museum. It was the only US made car in the1908 race from New York to Paris, crossing North America, Asia (Siberia) and Europe. This car won the race. It was authenticated by the chief driver after Mr. Harrah bought it. It was restored in his restoration shop to its condition at the end of the race.
Newest car at the museum, a 1980 Delorean, gold plated. Jo especially enjoyed seeing a Delorean as she has ridden in one.