Saturday, November 5, 2011

Inside The Auto Collections at the Imperial Palace

Last week, I had the chance to go to the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Now, most normal people would take this as an opportunity to check out an epic entertainment show, or take their chances in one of the casinos. I, however, am not a normal person. I'm not much of a partier, I hate losing money, and smoky casinos give me a headache.

I love cars, though. And in addition to the largest automotive aftermarket trade show, Vegas is the home of a well-known auto museum. Once we had seen all there was to see at SEMA, we headed down the Strip to the Imperial Palace, and the famous 125,000 sq-ft showroom known as The Auto Collections.

First off, the Imperial Palace is not what you'd call a polished joint. At first glance, you might even think it's a dump. The building is crumbling, the sign is old, and the casino is a dingy place to be. Take the elevator to the fifth floor, though, and your impression chances immensely.

I really loved looking at this collection. They had some truly nice cars in there. Their '60 Plymouth Fury would knock your socks off. Their Evening Orchid '65 Impala SS had more options than I've ever seen on one of these before. Their '56 Lincoln convertible looked good enough to eat. And they had a '50 Cadillac in there with 15,500-miles. The type of cars I'm familiar with were well-represented in that museum.

But then, they had cars that I didn't even know I liked until I saw them in there. Have you ever heard of a 1948 Cadillac Saoutchik? Yeah, well, I hadn't either. But they had one. The swoopy purple and black Series 62 was one of two re-bodied with the radical treatment.

There were also several beautiful Ferraris, a 1951 Talbot-Lago that looked more like a piece of art than a car, and a 1939 Horch. Horch? Yeah, Horch.

The majority of the collection was actually devoted to Rolls Royces. They had a lot of them, and they were pretty much all special. Custom bodywork, one-off grille and headlight treatments, and prominent former owners were the order of the day.

Among them was a '77 Phantom VI Frua Cabriolet four-door that had to be one of the biggest friggin' things I've ever seen, the 2002 Rolls Royce Phantom Prototype, and a one-off '54 Silver Wraith Vignale Saloon with what may be the most hideous front-end treatment ever applied to a Rolls. There was also a bright red 1925 Phantom that was fitted with all kinds of weapons so the Maharaja of Kotah could hunt tigers. My favorite of the bunch was a '47 Silver Wraith that had been upgraded with a pretty Inskip Coachworks body.

I also had a brush with fame, as Jimmy Velvet, the guy who sang Teen Angel and Blue Velvet in the '50s was there selling his book and CD's. Lots of pictures with he and Elvis, so apparently they were buds.

If you go to The Auto Collections at the Imperial Palace, the display may be different when you get there. That's because in addition to being an auto museum, most of the cars there are for sale. But you're in luck, because you can see every car that they have on display right now. Just check out my slideshow below, or click this link for a better version.


  1. Drool...
    That '60 Plymouth has to be at least a $100,000 vehicle.

  2. Some really great variety. Surprised to see rally cars/group B homologation specials [RS200 Fords, a 6R4 and an 037 Lancia] as well as the Lancia LeMans prototype LM2 and a targa Bizzarini. You were on a Bizzarini roll that weekend, huh?
    That 66 GTO looked perfect - the right colour and everything, as far as I could tell. That orchid Impala was pretty great too - but I think white interiors are a bit much on 'em myself. A guy we went to church with bought a brand new one - SS , orchid, black vinyl top and interior, 327/275 and 4 speed. I was just a little guy but remember even then thinking he shoulda kept his 61 Bubbletop that he traded in...

  3. Yeah, Vegas was Bizzarini Central.

    All those cars were nice in there. I actually love that white interior in that Evening Orchid car, but I guess it isn't for everyone.

    And I agree, that '60 Fury was really neat!