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Harrah Hot Rod Ferrari at RM Sotheby’s Monterey

Since his death in 1978, Bill Harrah has become as renowned for his immense automobile collection as for his casinos. Mr. Harrah bought his first Ferrari in 1959, and by the time of his passing was the West Coast distributor, via his Modern Classic Motors of Reno. Virtually every great model built in the last 20 years had passed through his hands, with many of his personal cars receiving special touches to suit his no-holds-barred driving style. The 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta offered here, s/n 14169, was built by the factory in Rame Metallizzato, with a Beige leather interior with Nero seat inserts, and with the U.S.-specification features of pop-up headlights, Borrani wire wheels, and Borletti air conditioning. Upon receiving it as his personal car, Harrah promptly had Francisco Mir’s Service Center in Santa Monica mount competition-style nine-inch rear wheels and fender flares, as well as, purportedly, upgrade the engine. In a legendary story that well may be apocryphal but is too delightful not to repeat here, Mr. Harrah was reportedly once approached by a Sikorsky salesman, offering him a faster way to commute between Reno and Lake Tahoe. Typically nonplussed, Mr. Harrah commented that he would happily buy a helicopter if it could, indeed, beat him driving the Ferrari between the two Harrah’s Clubs. The race for the ages went down, whirlybird vs. Ferrari, and the Daytona, of course, won - averaging 146 mph along the way.

Harrah passed the Daytona in 1975 to A&P heir John Robertson, who damaged it in an accident, necessitating the replacement of new front and rear clips. The refinished Daytona was eventually sold by Robertson’s estate in 2002 to Peter Markowski, passing in 2006 through a dealer to John Price of Salt Lake City, Utah, the renowned collector of performance automobiles. The current owner acquired the car in 2012, and recently oversaw beautiful paint and bodywork by Glenn Roberts; a suspension and front end rebuild by Ferrari of Scottsdale; and a fresh rebuild of the matching-numbers engine, including new pistons, rods, valves, and timing chain, by Patrick Ottis, who achieved 386 horsepower. Offered with complete Concours-quality sets of books and tools, the “Harrah Hot Rod” is well known and much loved among Ferrari cognoscenti. It has the rip-roaring spirit of its original owner in every nut and bolt.

Information from RM Sotheby's. Salon Photos by Robin Adams, Courtesy of RM Sotheby's.

For further information on RM’s Monterey sale, along with an updated list of entries, please visit

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