Bill Harrah: 1, Igor Sikorsky: 0

We were talking to our folks last night and mentioned the majesty of the Hoover Dam, one of the few unnatural features of Nevada that doesn't reek of chintzy artifice. Being of Nevadan stock ourselves, we have mixed feelings about the state; the superficial glitz, dumb hicks and ridiculous high-roller wannabes get to us, but you know, there's familial history there and we've got a weakness for strippers. Six o' one, a half-dozen of the other, we suppose. While we were in Pebble Beach a week ago, we caught the auction of a rather fascinating 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 that somehow dovetails with all of this yammering.

Although Johnny Von Neumann sold Ferraris in Southern California, Luigi Chinetti, who brought us the rather unfortunate Cadillac NART coupe, was pretty much the only game in North America. Casino magnate Bill Harrah, however, had a special relationship with old Enzo, and eventually ended up the West Coast distributor for the marque.

While Harrah had owned a Tour de France, a couple of Superamericas, a 500 Superfast and a 275 GTB/4, he ended up rather displeased with his 365 Berlinetta Boxer. He didn't like the way the mid-engined flat-twelve car handled, and the storage space was absolutely dismal. So, being the bold western adventurer from the other end of the 110 from Pedro (Harrah grew up in South Pasadena), Bill sent the thing back.

Ferrari, not wanting to bum the man out, dusted off a '71 Daytona they had lying around, added fender flares, uprated the motor, pretended the thing was smog-legal and shipped it off to Nevada.

At some point during the Me Decade (Harrah died in 1978), a Sikorsky salesman approached Harrah in an attempt to sell him a helicopter, saying, "You have a Casino in Reno and one in Lake Tahoe; of course you need a helicopter."

Harrah agreed to spot the guy full retail for the chopper if it could get him from Reno to Tahoe as quickly as a car and challenged the salesman to a race. The car was this 365 GTB/4. The helicopter guy lost a sale that day. Aside from the Gurney/Yates Cannonball Daytona, this is basically the coolest front-engined Ferrari road car ever. It kind of seems like a steal that the fully-restored car went for only $341,000 at the Gooding & Co. auction.

The Harrah Hot Rod [Gooding & Co.]

Related:
In Defense of a Cheesewagen: Ferrary Daytona Replica at Barrett-Jackson [Internal]