The Best Little Vintage Car Auction in Reno

A look at the fine machinery of Hot August Nights.

byA.J. Baime| PUBLISHED Aug 2, 2016 9:42 PM
The Best Little Vintage Car Auction in Reno

It all started 30 years ago—a party the likes of which did not exist anywhere else. Organizers imagined endless parades of 1950s and 60s cars, vintage rock acts, Elvis impersonators, waitresses slinging burgers while wearing roller skates and little else, and rivers of beer to keep folks cool under the desert son in Reno, Nevada. A story in the Los Angeles Times presaged that first event in 1986: “Hot August Nights, set for Aug. 1-3, is being developed as one of the largest single annual nostalgia events in the country…”

Now in 2016, Hot August Nights kicks off its 30th year today (Aug 2 to 7). You can expect more of everything, from cars to Elvi (that’s plural for Elvis), and over a quarter of a million car fans reveling all in one place. Musical acts this year include Paperback Writer (a Beatles tribute band), Satisfaction (a Rolling Stones tribute band), Abbacadabra (an Abba tribute band), and the Monkees (not a tribute, the real Daydream Believin’ hitmakers). This time around, Barrett-Jackson won’t be holding the Hot August Nights car auction. Instead, the Motorsport Auction Group has lined up a sick collection of vehicles to roll across the block—seemingly innumerable numbers of hot rods, muscle cars, and strange vehicles that defy description. Here’s a preview:


You may recognize this bizarre bus from the show “Bitchin’ Rides,” upon which its restoration was captured. Only 12 of these were ever built, and only 9 are known to exist. Originally built as a show car (or a show bus, really) for GM’s “Parade of Progress” shows, the bus has an Allison airplane engine inside (“Power for the Air Age”), though that’s just for show. Powering the wheels is a 302-cubic inch inline six. The bus is 33 feet long, 11 feet high, and 8 feet wide, and in your driveway, it could be the coolest party bus anywhere on earth.


This ride wins our award for the reddest automobile ever to roll down a road. It’s packing an LS1 Corvette motor, a six-speed Corvette manual trannie, the rear end off a Jaguar, Mercedes front headlights and power disc brakes. Which means, yes, it’s a resto-mod mutant. It also has vintage A/C, which we assume means air-conditioning that doesn’t really work. The car won a Ridler Award, the prestigious hot rod crown bestowed at the annual Detroit Autorama—instant street cred.


If the previous car is the reddest auto we’ve ever seen, this new construction takes the crown for most phallic. Built by Terry Murphy, known for building cars that have appeared on the TV show “Street Outlaws,” the vehicle has goodies galore, from fiberglass doors to a nitrous system to front and rear cams to an 861 horsepower engine. Yes: 861! And that’s without the nitrous. The vehicle has been chopped, wedged, elongated, stretched, and otherwise circumsized to become what you see here.


We don’t have much info on this car except that it’s a custom Vette with a Z06 drivetrain and a full day’s allowance of Vitamin C.


Custom one-off wheels, custom Mickey Thompson Flame Tread tires, custom power windows, custom suspension, custom brakes, and a crate 426 Hemi rated for 1,000-plus horsepower. And that’s touching the surface of all this little rocket has to offer. Very tantalizing, if you’re the kind of guy or gal that would relish such a ride. The supercharger looks like the spitting image of the animated film character Wall-E.


This beauty started out as a real Model A off a showroom floor, back when Hoover was in the White House and the globe was plummeting into the Great Depression. Now look at it. Under the hood: a 350-cubic inch Chevrolet V8, rolling on ’57 Chevy wheels. So is it a Ford, or a Chevy? It’s both. It also has an auto transmission and front and rear disc brakes. The interior work and the pinstriping is something to behold.


There’s nothing all that special about this Chevy, except that it’s from the Camaro’s very first model year, and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this American icon. (The first Camaro rolled off the assembly line in Norwood, Ohio, on May 21, 1966.) This example brings to life the perfect lines of this inimitable muscle car. It has a numbers-matching original 327-cubic inch V8, and it’s been fully restored. It is the picture of desire.


Quiz: This car is… a) an SUV b) a pickup c) a roadster d) a street rod e) a one-of-a-kind green machine f) all of the above. We’d go with f. This custom machine sits so low to the ground, it could shave hairs off of pavement. It’s a 1,200-hour frame-off build, with an auto-transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, Boss Motorsports 20- and 22-inch wheels, and an LS1 motor. It’s the Incredible Hulk of cars, and it could be yours….

For the full-lineup of auction vehicles, check out: