Las Vegas for the Car Enthusiast: 1 Factory, 2 Museums, 3 Laps

Whether you are a Vegas virgin or a multi-bachelor(ette) party veteran, you are guaranteed to ask yourself by the 19th hour of your stay– Is there anything else to do here besides wallet-busting gambling, gut-busting buffets, and liver-busting debauchery?  For you car enthusiasts, the answer is an emphatic YES. Here are three spots worth checking out. 1. Imperial Palace Auto Collections.  This is a must-see, not only because of the rare and eclectic collection of cars there, but because it is so accessible.  The museum is on the 5th floor of the Imperial Palace casino hotel on The Strip.  For the price of nine 99-cent Jumbo Shrimp Cocktails, you get access to over 200 classic and sports cars, from once-mundane Datsuns to one-off Rolls-Royces.  The mind-boggling array is sure to cure your hangover.  It’s almost perfect, except for the tacky fluorescent lighting and dated blue carpeting.  Click here for more visitors information.

This place attracts Ford RS200s like a moth to a flame.  Three or four are always on display.

Here we see the poor man’s Ferrari Daytona and the rich man’s Datsun 280ZX.


Many of the cars are for sale.  This adorable 1968 Toyota Corona RT-52 coupe with 2,274 miles on the clock was listed for an arguably NP CP of $25,500.

2. Shelby Museum.  Enthusiasts of cars, Americana, and intellectual property litigation will love the free museum and factory tour.  Shelby’s facility is 15 miles north of The Strip, next to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The museum houses two dozen cars from the very first Shelby Cobra ever made (the blue one shown in the lead of this post) to a trio of 1980s Dodges (a 1983 Dodge Charger Shelby prototype, a 1986 Dodge Omni Shelby GLHS, and a 1989 Dodge Dakota Shelby prototype).

Visitors can also get a tour of the factory, which is given once a day.  The smaller workshop in the factory contains Cobras in various states of assembly/disassembly.  In the larger warehouse-sized room, dozens of stock Mustangs are converted every day into Shelby Mustangs.  On the way out, don’t forget to visit the gift shop, where you can buy a Shelby windshield decal for your VTEC Honda.  Click here for museum and factory tour details.

3. Richard Petty Driving Experience.  Whether or not you’re a NASCAR fan, this is a great half-day activity.  You, your friends, and your family can choose to drive or ride in professionally maintained racers.  All of the them have 5.7 liter Chevy engines rated at around 600 horsepower.  Click here for more details.


The three-lap ride-along costs $159.  For another three laps, it’s $79.50.  As appealing as it is to speed on the empty roads north of Vegas, the Petty experience is the easiest, safest, and most legal way to travel at speeds of up to 160 mph.  Just don’t forget the Dramamine if you are prone to motion sickness.



Images source: Jim Yu

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