Photos by Larry Edsall
The cars parked on the fifth floor of the garage at The Quad Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip aren’t of the sort you would find on the structure’s other levels. The fifth floor is closed off from the rest of the garage to provide a home for the Auto Collections at the Quad.
The Auto Collections is part automotive museum, part classic car sales showroom.
For example, when we visited, you could buy the 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe coupe for $45,000, a 1941 Cadillac Series 62 convertible sedans (one of only 400 built) for $65,000, or the one-of-two 1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I James Young Sedanca coupe for $1 million. And that wasn’t the largest price tag on display; a one-off 1957 Maserati 3500GT Frua Spyder had a $3 million asking price.
On the other hand, such vehicles as the 1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Special or the 1936 BMW 319 4-window cabriolet or the 1939 Horch 930V Phaeton (one of only three built and one of two that still survive) are “Not For Sale.”
Ditto for the 1939 Chrysler Royale Sedan, the car in which long-time Tonight Show host Johnny Carson learned to drive.
The collection was started by Ralph Engelstad, whose construction company helped build Las Vegas in the 1960s and in 1979 opened what was known for most of its existence as the Imperial Palace. Engelstad’s initial goal was to assemble a collection of one-of-every type of Ford. Engelstad’s first car was a 1939 Ford. His first purchase as a collector was a ’29 Model A roadster, bought in the spring of 1979.
But his all-Ford concept changed after Engelstad met and entered an automotive partnership with classic car dealer Richie Clyne, who helped Engelstad create a truly world-class car collection. Clyne also helped Engelstad develop the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, started an auto-based skills training program for those serving time at a Nevada state prison north of Las Vegas, and created a classic car museum at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children to help draw people to that facility in Boulder City, Nevada.
Before his death in 2002, Engelstad not only built casinos and his car collection, but donated $100 million to his alma mater, the University of North Dakota. After Engelstad’s death, a group including Don Williams, whose acclaimed Blackhawk Collection had worked with Engelstad and his collection for many years, helped Clyne preserve and even expand the scope of the Auto Collections, which now are managed by Williams’ son, Rob.
Whether you’re buying or just looking, seeing these 250 classic vehicles in The Auto Collections is worth the $11.95 admission fee (and if you’re staying at the casino hotel, they’ll comp you tickets at check in).