The house car eventually made it into the collection of Metropolitan Opera star James Melton and resided on his Connecticut farm for a number of years. In the late 1950s, Melton had to liquidate much of his collection to pay off debts, and Bill Harrah purchased the Winton for his Harrah’s Automobile Collection in Sparks, Nevada.
Unfortunately, after purchasing the vehicle, Harrah found out that Melton had used the Winton as collateral for one of his numerous loans and the house car was sitting at an impound facility in Massachusetts. Harrah may have had the title, but the sheriff had the Winton. So Harrah consulted his lawyer, who informed him that because of some obscure state’s rights law, if Harrah could find a way to get the Winton over the state line to Rhode Island, the vehicle would be his.
So Harrah instructed one of his employees to wait until the sheriff’s deputy who was guarding the car left the facility. Then he told the employee to fire up the engine and drive the 10 miles to Rhode Island. The employee seized an opportunity when the deputy went off on an errand, but because the Winton’s fuel pump was malfunctioning, the employee had to hand pump the gasoline, and the wheezing Winton barely made it to Rhode Island.
In addition to becoming part of Harrah’s enormous 1,400-plus vehicle collection, the Winton served as a registration office during auto shows and swap meets. Automobile collector Buck Kamphausen acquired the vehicle when more than 1,200 of Harrah’s vehicles were auctioned off after Harrah’s death in 1978.
The Winton was photographed in Boulder City, Nevada, and the background was photographed in Quartzite, Arizona.
Douglas Keister’s new book, Mobile Mansions: Taking “Home Sweet Home” on the Road, was published by Gibbs Smith Publishers in May. Doug is also the author of Ready to Roll: A Celebration of the Classic American Travel Trailer and Silver Palaces: America’s Streamline Trailers. Personalized autographed copies are available from Doug. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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