For all its gaudy casinos and neon lights, the Las Vegas Strip has long had a hidden treasure, the Auto Collections.
The Auto Collections at the Quad
1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 66 Tourer
1976 Cadillac Eldorado Bicentennial Convertible
1970 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Convertible
1974 Hong Qi Red Flag Limousine
1957 Maserati 3500GT Frua Spyder
1962 Lincoln Continental Towne Limousine
1957 Panhard Dyna Z
1956 DeSoto Fireflight Convertible
1939 Chrysler Royal Sedan
1939 Horch 930V Phaeton
1954 Cadillac Fleetwood
1967 Rolls-Royce Phantom
1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Torpedo Tourer
1961 Volkswagen Micro Bus
1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1957 Chrysler 300C Convertible
1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Sport Coupe
1964 Pontiac Grand Prix
1922 Renault Model 40 Town Car
1932 Plymouth Convertible Coupe
1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
- The Auto...
- 1919 Pierce-Arrow...
- 1976 Cadillac...
- 1970 Mercury...
- 1974 Hong Qi Red...
- 1957 Maserati...
- 1962 Lincoln...
- 1957 Panhard Dyna Z
- 1956 DeSoto...
- 1939 Chrysler...
- 1954 Nash-Healey
- 1939 Horch 930V...
- 1954 Cadillac...
- 1967 Rolls-Royce...
- Snake Horn
- 1925 Rolls-Royce...
- 1961 Volkswagen...
- 1930 Stutz
- 1957 Cadillac...
- 1957 Chrysler...
- 1965 Chevrolet...
- 1964 Pontiac...
- 1922 Renault...
- 1932 Plymouth...
- 1954 Rolls-Royce...
- And ...
Tucked away on the fifth floor of the Imperial Palace hotel and casino—now remodelled and renamed the Quad—the Auto Collection’s part museum and part showroom, since most of the cars are for sale on consignment. That means the display is constantly changing, so even if you’ve seen it before, it’s worth visiting again.
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was possibly the world’s richest and best-known film star when he commissioned this one-off Pierce-Arrow for $32,000—about $450,000 in today’s money—which includes a unique colour scheme, white tires, and his initials on the radiator front. The barrel headlights were a factory option if you didn’t want the company’s signature lights moulded into the fenders. A first-place winner at Pebble Beach in 2007, this car can be yours for $1.85 million.
This model was the “last convertible” when American automakers discontinued the soft-top, due to slow sales and the rumour of new safety standards they couldn’t meet (and which never came). Out of the 14,000 Eldorado convertibles built that year, the last 200 commemorated the 1976 U.S. bicentennial, with white paint, red and blue pinstriping, red carpet, dash and seat piping, and a commemorative plaque. Many were bought by speculators, who unsuccessfully sued GM when it reintroduced a ragtop a decade later. This one’s priced at $59,500.
According to the museum, there were 17 of these top-line Cougars built in 1970 with a 428-cubic-inch engine and ram air induction, and this is the first one off the line. Ford used it to test the engine with air conditioning, but for whatever reason, the car wasn’t scrapped afterwards. It’s been restored with new parts and an engine that’s not original to the car but is date-correct, and is for sale at $110,000.
Founded in 1958, Hong Qi was the first domestic Chinese automaker. Its cars were initially reserved for high-ranking politicians and elite foreign visitors, and it’s believed Richard Nixon used one on his landmark visit in 1972. Owned by FAW (First Auto Works), Hong Qi has alternately succeeded and failed over the years, but a new Red Flag limo—which doesn’t look much different than this 1974—was shown recently at the Shanghai Auto Show. This one’s for sale at $350,000.
Got a spare $3 million sitting around? If so, this car could be yours. The 3500GT was Maserati’s move into series production cars, and its six-cylinder engine features twin spark plugs and makes 220 horsepower. The one-off body by Frua looks more like an American convertible than an Italian roadster. This car was restored in Britain and carries its original colour scheme.
The Ford Motor Company put this limo into its executive livery service in August 1962, and used it to ferry such people as Lyndon Johnson, Lee Iacocca, Henry Ford II, and Princess Grace. Its most famous passenger was John F. Kennedy, who last rode in it on November 15, 1963 in New York City, a week before he was killed in Dallas. It’s on display only and isn’t for sale.
One of the world’s oldest auto companies, dating from 1889, Panhard et Levassor was absorbed into Citroën and built its last model under its own name in 1967. Its Dyna series was introduced in 1954 and, until 1958, was almost entirely made of aluminum. Its light weight helped: although it only made 50 horsepower, it could reach almost 130 km/h while carrying six people. This one’s priced at $22,500.
Possibly the nicest DeSoto you’ll ever find, and correspondingly priced at $195,000. Named for the Spanish explorer, DeSoto was built by Chrysler as a step up from Dodge. This one carries a 330-cubic-inch Hemi V8 with three-speed transmission, and includes two rare factory options: an under-dash Columbia Highway Hi-Fi record player, a troublesome one-year offering (Chrysler would try again with an RCA unit in 1960, but it wouldn’t get any better), and a clock in the steering wheel that wound itself when the wheel was turned.
Legendary late-night TV host Johnny Carson learned to drive on this car, which belonged to his father, and drove his date to the prom in it. He eventually tracked it down, bought it, and had it restored. In 1994, he sold it to the original Imperial Palace Auto Collection for a dollar. It’s part of the permanent collection and isn’t for sale.
George Mason, chairman of the American auto company Nash, was coming home on a ship from Europe, where he’d taken a shine to the sports cars he’d seen there. British carmaker Donald Healey was en route to the U.S. to source Cadillac engines for his cars. They met, and when Cadillac couldn’t spare anything, Nash sent inline sixes to Healey, who built cars that competed well at Le Mans. The two then made the Nash-Healey together, but high production costs made the cars very expensive, and they were only built from 1951 to 1954. This one’s priced at $210,000.
One of three built—of which only two survive—this massive four-door convertible was made in the German company’s final year. Restored in 1982, it’s on display only and isn’t for sale. August Horch, originally an engineer at Benz, started the company in 1900. He was forced out by shareholders in 1909 and started a new firm, but was unable to legally put his name on it. Horch roughly translates to “listen,” so he used a Latin version of it: Audi.
This car spent the first part of its life in Idaho, where it was used as a limousine between the Twin Falls airport and the resorts in Sun Valley. According to the sign, it ferried such celebrities as Janet Leigh, Ann Sheridan, Bing Crosby and Marilyn Monroe, and can be yours for $75,000.
The Auto Collection contains an enormous number of Rolls-Royces of various vintages. This one was bought new in Miami Beach and later sold to television star Red Skelton. The unusual P100 headlights were a factory addition. Current selling price is $400,000.
Who wants a boring old horn under the hood? These snake horns slithered down the fender and ended in a rubber bulb that the driver squeezed to blow the horn. This one’s mounted on a Rolls-Royce…
… and this is the rest of the car. Rolls-Royces were incredibly popular with Indian Maharajahs, who outdid themselves to order the flashiest and costliest versions they could get. This one, with coachwork by London’s Baker and Company, was commissioned by Umed Singh II for big-game hunting on his estate. It’s priced at $750,000.
This bus left the factory with cargo doors on both sides, a very rare option. It was turned into a camper by the Caravelle Camper Company of Oregon, one of the very first U.S. firms to do such conversions. Fully restored, it’s available for $85,000.
One of only a few race cars in the collection, this Stutz was known as the “Jones Special” for its owner, Milton Jones, who entered it in the 1930 Indy 500. It was driven by Lora L. Corum, a co-winner of the 1924 race (he was relieved on the 111th lap in his Duesenberg). The Stutz finished tenth, running at an average speed of 85.34 mph. It’s for sale at $375,000.
Cadillac was completely redesigned for 1957, including three versions of the Eldorado. The ultra-expensive Eldorado Brougham had straight rear fenders, but the Eldorado Biarritz convertible and Eldorado Seville two-door hardtop had unusual rounded ones with fins mounted on top. Powered by a 365-cubic-inch V8 making 325 horsepower—an optional version of the standard 300-horsepower 365—it’s offered at $45,000.
The first Chrysler 300 went on sale on February 10, 1955, named for the horsepower put out by its 331-cubic-inch Hemi engine. It was the most powerful American production car available that year. In 1956 it was the 300B, and in 1957, armed with a 392-cubic-inch engine that made 390 horses, it became the 300C. These “letter cars” lasted until the 1965 300L. Only 484 copies of the 300C convertible were built in 1957, and this one is $145,000.
This is listed as a “brass hat” car, meaning it was outfitted for a high-level GM executive with 31 factory options. Back then, that meant such things as backup lights, retractable seatbelts, padded dash, emergency four-way flashers, passenger side mirror, tinted glass, and power steering and brakes, along with cruise control, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM radio, a clock, and the best part: a 409-cubic-inch V8 engine. It can be yours for $125,000.
Now just a historical footnote, Pontiac was GM’s performance division when this beauty was released. It carries a 389-cubic-inch engine making 303 horsepower—yes, back then, there was “no replacement for displacement” if you wanted go-fast—and much of it is in original condition, including its interior. Asking price is $47,500.
Nothing described class warfare quite like a Town Car: the owner stayed warm and dry inside, while the chauffeur sat outside in whatever weather was happening at the time. For many years, this car was owned by the Brucker family, who operated the “Movie World: Cars of the Stars” exhibit in Los Angeles. Car customizer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth worked at the exhibit and, for a few years, lived on the grounds. The Renault came and went through the Vegas collection a few times and can now be bought for $450,000.
While Plymouths used a rendition of the Pilgrims’ ship on their logo, it’s also been suggested that the company was named for Plymouth binder twine, a popular brand that would have twigged with the numerous rural dwellers who were buying cars. This one, powered by a four-cylinder engine, has been restored and is priced at $39,500.
It’s quite possible that the collection houses the ugliest Rolls-Royce ever built. Ordered new by a buyer in New York, it was shipped to Italy, where Alfredo Vignale Coachworks had its way with it, finishing it in the spring of 1955. Apparently it also contains a full bar and television set, and can be yours for $500,000. Thankfully, it appears to be the only one ever built.
It’s not much better from the back, either. As with everything else in Las Vegas, it’s pretty much a gamble.