National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada | 200+ Rare Models

by Denise Marie

Located in Reno, Nevada, the National Automobile Museum displays classic cars that were originally part of William Harrah’s private collection. Some of the venue’s earliest models date back to the late 19th century. Vintage Ford, Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet cars are featured in the galleries. You’ll also see Jaguar, Rolls-Royce and other foreign vehicles in the permanent collection, which includes more than 200 models.

History

William Harrah built one of the America’s most successful casino empires in the 20th century. As one of Nevada’s top gaming moguls, the wealthy businessman spent a significant share of his fortune on classic automobiles. At the time of his passing in the late 1970’s, his private collection included more than 1,300 cars.

His casino enterprise was purchased by Holiday Inn shortly after. This company initially wanted to sell Harrah’s car collection to fund expansion in Nevada’s hospitality and casino markets. With some pressure from government leaders, business people and other concerned citizens, Holiday Inn retained some of the historic cars for public display. In 1989, the National Automobile Museum opened in the heart of Reno as one of the premier venues of its kind in the world. For decades, visitors have admired the impressive car collection of the legendary Bill Harrah.

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Collection and Other Features

The permanent collection at the National Automobile Museum includes vehicles that were owned by some of America’s most prominent entertainers. John Wayne’s 1953 Chevrolet Corvette 2934 Convertible and Frank Sinatra’s 1961 Ghia L.6.4. Hardtop are on display in the Celebrity Auto gallery. You’ll also see John F. Kennedy’s 1962 Lincoln Continental 86 Convertible and Elvis Presley’s 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Custom Coupe.

Some of the classic vehicles at the museum also have ties to Hollywood films. For example, the 1912 Rambler 73-4CC Cross Country was featured in the award-winning Titanic movie that was released in 1997. The 1907 Thomas Flyer is another highlight in the museum’s collection. This model won the New York to Paris Auto Race of 1908, which included only six contestants.

The exhibits at the National Automobile Museum are split into several sections with chronological timelines. Gallery 1 displays vehicles from the 1890’s to the 1910’s. Gallery 2 features models from the 1910’s, 1920’s and 1930’s. You’ll see some of America’s most iconic cars from the WWII era at Gallery 3. Additionally, Gallery 4 includes cars that were produced after 1950. This specialty museum also owns vintage memorabilia relating to the auto industry.

Original gas pumps, billboards and decorative items with car themes are displayed throughout the common areas. Showing documentaries and other multimedia presentations, the theater is conveniently located near the museum’s main entrance. Some other venues that are accessible from the lobby area include an automotive shop, research library, gift store and the Nevada Space Center.

Location and Directions

The National Automobile Museum has a prime location in downtown Reno, Nevada. Standing on the southern banks of the Truckee River, this attraction is easily accessible by car and public transportation. Parking is available near the intersection of Museum Drive and Mill Street.

Bus routes 9 and 14 of the RTC of Washoe County also stop on Mill Street. Some other bus services that serve the area near the museum include the 1, 19 and SS lines. Located only a few blocks north of the museum, Reno Station is served by the Amtrak California Zephyr, which runs through multiple states. The attraction is also within walking distance of hotels and other venues in the city’s vibrant Riverwalk District and Midtown.

Click to visit the National Automobile Museum official website.

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