40-foot-long, 10-wheeled limo with a hot tub.
Hollywood style: a 40-foot-long pink limo with a heart-shaped hot tub.

Hollywood Cars Museum

Field review by the editors.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Car museums can take themselves too seriously, which is why the Hollywood Cars Museum (which is not in Hollywood) is better than most. Among its many treasures are the custom cars of "Hollywood Jay" Ohrberg, who has never taken himself too seriously, and always seems to be having a good time.

Flintstones car.
Barney Rubble's log roadster.

"I love to build crazy cars," Jay told us. "Right now I'm trying to raise money [$500,000] to build a 110-foot-long Rolls Royce with 50 wheels, a lap pool, and a helipad."

The Hollywood Cars Museum displays one of Jay's earlier long-form creations: a 40-foot-long, 10-wheeled bubble gum pink limo with a heart-shaped hot tub. His vehicles are praised by the museum as "Wild masterpieces from beyond the realm of Hollywood and our imaginations." These include a motorized grand piano that can be played while being driven, and a car built inside a 12-foot-tall roller skate.

James Bond submersible car.
James Bond submarine car from "The Spy Who Loved Me."

"The first show car I built," said Jay, "was two bathtubs with a toilet for the driver's seat and toilet paper rolls for the pedals." It vanished sometime over the past 50+ years, but Jay's similarly-spirited Bunk Bed hot rod has survived and is part of the Hollywood Cars collection. "I get a lot of ideas from little kids," said Jay. "I pick their brains."

Roller Skate Car.
12-foot-tall Roller Skate Car.

The Museum is a Halloween candy grab-bag of Jay's creations, the gaudy cars of Las Vegas legend Liberace, and the outlandish vehicles seen in James Bond films, such as the submarine Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and the absurd flying AMC Matador from The Man With the Golden Gun (1974). The movie cars came from museum owner Michael Dezer, who supposedly possesses the largest collection of Bond vehicles in the world.

The Liberace cars -- and several of his glittery outfits -- were last seen in the long-closed Liberace Museum, and Hollywood Cars should be commended for bringing these baubles back out of their sequined closet.

Patriotic Liberace outfit.
Liberace's 1976 Bicentennial hot pants outfit.

The museum features a number of iconic autos from the world of television and film. Some are replicas, built by Jay, who is proudest of the quirky cars such as his Barney Rubble log convertible and the Dragula coffin dragster from The Munsters. He's also rendered several copies the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car and the Death Car from the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde movie.

Making a Bonnie and Clyde car -- taking a 1934 Ford and pumping it full of lead -- sounds easier than engineering a giant motorized roller skate. Not so, said Jay. He once accidentally burned up a Death Car when he tried to enhance the holes in its upholstery with catsup and a lit cigarette. Another time he brought a Ford to the Las Vegas Police and asked them to shoot it full of bullets on their firing range. Their efforts were so enthusiastic that the Death Car was blasted to an unrecognizable hulk.

"I used to take a Death Car to state fairs in the South," said Jay. "I got two old tombstones, had a sign painter add 'Bonnie' and 'Clyde' on them, and put them next to the car with the turf turned up in front of them, like real graves. And, boy, the people would take their hats off and all kinds of stuff. They were almost crying. It was crazy."

Bonnie and Clyde movie death car replica.
Bonnie and Clyde replica movie death car, shot full of real bullet holes.

The Hollywood Car Museum has a workmanlike replica of the Bonnie and Clyde Movie Death Car (the real one is in Tennessee), while one of Jay's best real Death Car replicas is showcased in Illinois. Jay has great respect for the real real Death Car, exhibited at Whiskey Pete's Casino. "That place used to be the size of a gas station, a little bitty nothing thing," Jay said. "And then that guy bought that car, and people kept stopping to see it, and now they got three casinos there. It all came from that car."

It's difficult to say where Jay's imagination will take him next -- this is a man who once built a Space Shuttle Car out of the front end of a DC-3 -- but Hollywood Cars seems like a museum with the resources and room to accommodate his vision, or at least part of it. "I've got hundreds of drawings of cars I've never built, and I can't even begin to build in my lifetime," said Jay. "I look at my drawings and think, 'I'm gonna be 300 years old before I can build all these cars.'"

Hollywood Cars Museum

Address:
5115 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV
Directions:
Southwest side of the city. From W. Tropicana Ave. turn south at the stoplight onto Dean Martin Drive just west of the I-15 overpass. Drive south a quarter-mile. You'll see the sign for the museum on the right.
Hours:
Daily 10-5 (Call to verify)
Phone:
702-331-6400
Admission:
Adults $20.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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