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Classic chrome comes back to Reno.

Classic chrome comes back to Reno Rumor had it that Harrah's famous automobile collection was completely dissolved after Holiday Corporation purchased the hotel and casino company in 1980. Not so. Although almost a thousand cars were sold, more than 200 remain. Those are now permanently parked in the sleek National Automobile Museum, which opened last November on the south bank of the Truckee River in downtown Reno.

Operated by the nonprofit William F. Harrah Foundation, the new facility makes up in improved presentation for what the collection lost in scope. The warehouse-like setting where the autos used to reside offered more to dedicated car buffs than to the average visitor. The new arrangement should captivate anyone who's ever had his head turned by a flash of chrome or the curve of a fender--while still imparting more information about the cars than did the old displays.

For Tahoe skiers taking a day off from the slopes or grounded by foul weather, the museum is less than an hour's drive.

Cars, cars everywhere--from movie

screens to street scenes

Using actual cars, rear-projection movies, and video monitors, a 20-minute mixed-media show (starts every half-hour) gives a playful introduction to the impact of the automobile on American culture. The theme is expanded upon in a recorded tour of automotive history which visitors listen to on hand-held radio wands.

Exhibition galleries open off street scenes depicting four different eras: the turn of the century, the '30s, the '50s, and the modern day. A blacksmith can answer any questions you might have about the early iron-wheeled carriages such as the steam-powered 1890 Philion (the oldest car in the museum). On the '50s street, you can shoot the breeze with the uniformed service-station attendant.

True motorheads will appreciate the technical information (engine type, bore, stroke, and displacement) printed on placards for each car. The rest of us may be more intrigued by stories of the cars' famous owners--or the original price tags. Some of the cars are familiar classics; others are one-of-a-kind oddities, such as the Buckminster Fuller-designed 1934 Dymaxion, a three-wheeled vehicle that not only looked like a submarine but even used a periscope instead of a rear window.

A small cafe in a glass pyramid beside the museum serves salads, hamburgers, pastas, and other entrees for lunch. In the warmer months, you can dine outdoors.

The automobile museum is open from 9:30 to 5:30 daily. Admission is $9.50 for adults, $8.50 seniors, and $2.50 ages 6 through 15. From Interstate 80, exit south on Virginia Street. Just after you cross Truckee River, turn left on Mill Street; the museum is two blocks ahead. Free parking is on the building's east side.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Harrah's automobile collection at National Automobile Museum, Reno, Nevada
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1990
Words:451
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