Antique Beauties

What is it about classic automobiles that continue to spark interest? These sleek, innovative, well-engineered, comfortable cars meant freedom, exploration, and a new chapter in people’s lives who worked hard to afford them. A whole new cottage industry emerged as a result in America — the whole family could pile in for an outing to a drive-in movie or a drive-in restaurant where girls in roller skates brought ice cold root beer and hamburgers to the window and motels made it easy for those travelers who hit the open road for weeks at a time to stop for the night. The car was parked right in front of the rented room for easy access.
Sports cars of the Italian and French persuasion indulged motorists’ need for speed, while the German Volkswagen could very well have inspired the whole “hippie” movement.
Work vehicles made getting products like farm fresh produce, eggs and milk to customers easier and faster.
Automobiles changed the world in so many ways it’s almost unthinkable how life would be without them. Then the motorcycle changed the whole dynamic and took motorized transportation in a totally different direction.
Don Laughlin’s Classic Car Museum within the Riverside Resort is back open and visitors can see examples of all of these vehicles in the exhibit. It’s like taking a walk back through time. Each car is its own piece of history, from concept to finished product, down to the details like hood ornaments and headlights.
The 30,000 square feet of dedicated space with floor to ceiling windows contains more than 80 of the most distinctive automobiles in the world. The exhibit is a rotating collection of antique classic and special interest autos assembled from private collections. Many of the cars are owned by resort and town founder, Don Laughlin himself, an avid auto enthusiast and collector.
Tucked in and around the cars are examples of various kinds of motors from cars and early outboard motors for boats; the uniform and tools of “grease monkeys” from a bygone era; and antique gaming tables. Thousands of license plates from all over take up most of the wall space.
Nostalgic music from the ’50s and ’60s plays as people wander around in air-conditioned comfort to inspect these polished beauties, often reliving memories associated with a father or granddad, “who had one just like it.” Large cardboard cutouts of the Three Stooges, Marilyn Monroe, Glenda the good witch from the Wizard of Oz, and other movie mementos are placed in and around the cars, adding to the vibe.
One of the museum highlights is the exhibit of Emilio Scotto’s 10-year journey around the world on a motorcycle. The Argentina photo-journalist’s story of logging 460,000 miles on his 1980 Honda Gold Wing (also part of the exhibit) from 1985 to 1995 is told in the many photos on the walls documenting the trip. The exhibit marks the longest journey in the world on a motorcycle, where he visited 280 countries and territories and experienced life within different cultures and religious beliefs, and survived and witnessed many dangerous situations. The photos surrounding the exhibit are among the 90,000 photographs he took while on the trip.
The exhibit hall also features privately owned vehicles on consignment by their owners. These vehicles are available for sale to qualified individuals. (Unless the vehicles are specifically marked for sale, exhibit autos are for display purpose only). Please direct serious inquiries to Majesta Shephard at 702-298-2535.
The showroom is located in the Classic Auto Exhibition Hall on the third floor of the South Tower. This area’s glass-enclosed museum also offers majestic views of the Colorado River and the surrounding mountain landscape and a gift shop. The showroom is open Sunday–Thursday (10 a.m.- 8 p.m.) and Friday-Saturday (10 a.m.-9 p.m.).
Admission to the exhibit is free with a King of Clubs Players’ Card, or $2 per person without the card. Tickets can be purchased in the third-floor gift shop.