Photographer / Filmmaker Steve Ellison conceived of the idea to visually document the story of Harold's Club in early 2012. Part of the project was to track down the Harold's Club '49 Buick. With a tip from Roadkill Customs, Steve located the car in perfect condition in the collection of the Martin Estate Winery in Napa Valley, California.
Steve visited with the famous Harold's Club car recently, he travelled to Napa Valley where the folks at Martin Estate were more than accommodating. This beautiful vehicle is in showroom condition. "For someone telling a story like we are, being able to spend quality time with something this historic is like finding the ark of the covenant" says Steve.
Newspaper article from 1949. The wire services picked this up and it was printed in what seems like most every newspaper in the country - they definitely got their money's worth in publicity.
Harold's Club in Reno was the first themed casino in the world, and for a while, it was also the largest. Harold Smith, the son who ran the gaming side, gave the place a Wild Western theme, which ran from the billboards to the wagon-woven carpet to the Silver Dollar Bar, which had a bourbon waterfall and over 2,000 silver dollars embedded in the curving countertop. Then for the 1949 expansion, to celebrate the opening of the Roaring Camp Room, Smith created the The Reno Harold’s Club 1949 “Silver Dollar” Buick Super Eight Woody Wagon.
The great thing about this whole Harold's Club story is that all of Reno benefitted from this kind of thing - even competing clubs. Pappy Smith said that he didn't care... he did it for Reno as much as his club. "Harold's Club will get it's share."
This vehicle was commissioned by the Smith family and driven around the country to promote Harold's Club.
Harold covered the top-of-the-line Buick with silver dollars, 430 of them, to be exact. Except for the odd parade or promotional appearance, the car enjoyed pride of place at the entrance to Harold's Club for years. Sometime in 1949, Life photographer Michael Rougier shot a whole series of pictures of Smith and his brand new Buick.