National Automobile Museum
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|Collection size||200+ cars
Automotive Research Library
The National Automobile Museum, located just south of the Truckee River in Reno, Nevada, displays historic automobiles from the late 19th century and from throughout the 20th. Most of the vehicles displayed are from the collection of the late casino owner William F. Harrah, and so the museum is sometimes referred to as The Harrah Collection. The museum opened in 1989.
William F. Harrah had collected approximately 1,450 automobiles, which he stored inside warehouses in Sparks, Nevada. It was the world's largest collection of historic automobiles, and was opened to the public. When Harrah died in 1978, Holiday Inn acquired his hotel-casino company and the automobile collection. In 1981, Holiday Inn announced that it would sell the entire collection, a decision that received some opposition. Nevada governor Robert List attempted to delay the sale while working on a plan to have the state enact legislation that would save the collection. Businessman Thomas Perkins later led a group that was interested in purchasing the collection. Both efforts to save the collection failed. However, a nonprofit organization was formed that ultimately resulted in the construction of the museum. Holiday Inn donated 175 of Harrah's automobiles to the group, while the remainder of his collection was sold during three auctions in the mid-1980s. Another 60 vehicles were donated to the group by private owners. The museum opened in 1989, in downtown Reno, Nevada.
The museum's holdings of over 200 cars are spread over four galleries. Gallery 1 showcases cars built during the 1890s & 1900s, Gallery 2 features cars from the 1910s to 1930s, Gallery 3 the 1930s through to the 1950s, and Gallery 4 displays cars from 1950 onwards. Gallery 4 also includes race cars and the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Each gallery is linked by a themed "street", featuring vehicles as well as faux shop fronts.
Celebrity owned cars include;
- Elvis Presley's 1973 Cadillac Eldorado,
- Frank Sinatra's 1961 Ghia L6.4,
- John F. Kennedy assigned 1962 Lincoln Continental,
- John Wayne's 1953 Chevrolet Corvette.
Movie featured cars include;
- 1892 Philion Road Carriage, from The Magnificent Ambersons,
- 1912 Rambler 73-400 Cross-Country, from the 1997 version of Titanic,
- 1949 Mercury Series 9CM, driven by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
The collection includes examples from marques such as; Auburn, Bugatti, Cord, Duesenberg, Ferrari, Franklin, Jaguar, McLaren, Mercedes-Benz, Pierce-Arrow, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, and Stutz. Also on display is one of three 24kt gold plated DeLorean DMC-12s built for American Express, a "Jerrari", a Jeep Wagoneer fitted with a V-12 Ferrari engine and formerly used for winter driving by William F. Harrah, and the only surviving prototype of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car. The one-of-a-kind Phantom Corsair is also displayed at the museum.
The Museum has been named in the 'Top Ten Museums' by Car Collector magazine, one of "America's Five Greatest Automobile Museums" and one of the top sixteen auto museums in the world by AutoWeek, and has been repeatedly selected as the best museum in Northern Nevada by Nevada Magazine's annual reader's poll.
- Taylor, Michael (February 25, 2007). "The Last of Harrah / Enough of Reno tycoon's car collection is left to fill a museum". SFGate. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
- History tab at www.automuseum.org
- Museum Map at www.automuseum.org
- Modern Street tab at www.automuseum.org
- "John Wayne's 1953 Corvette #51".
- Film Noir tab at www.automuseum.org
- Auto/Vehicle collection tab at www.automuseum.org
- Welcome tab at www.automuseum.org
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