Written by Eric Becker and Barbara Toombs
The Entertainment Capital of the World started taking form in the 1950s as Las Vegas, a city of less than 50,000 people at the time, rapidly became the destination to see the top entertainers. Visitors could catch growing stars like Liberace, Elvis Presley, Shecky Greene and Don Rickles in the lounges for as little as $5. At the Fremont Hotel and Casino in 1958, the future “Mr. Las Vegas,” Wayne Newton, then a high school student, booked six shows a day, an engagement that stretched out for five years. He would perform more than 30,000 shows in his new hometown over the next decades. As Newton was growing in fame, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack – Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop – were turning the city onto its head, hitting on a vibe in the early-to-mid 1960s at the Sands’ Copa Room that’s still felt in Las Vegas today.
The 1990s brought new variety to Las Vegas, as magicians, circus performers and even a group of men painted blue captured imaginations. Considered by Las Vegas Weekly as one of the Top 5 headliners in the city’s history, Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn embodied the American dream: They emigrated from Germany and wound up with their own headlining magic show, their own zoo and their own (short-lived) cartoon series.
The pair met on a cruise ship in the late ’50s—Siegfried was a cabin steward and amateur magician; Roy was a waiter and animal lover. The two combined forces and began using animals in a magic act, combining Liberace’s flair with Doug Henning’s aura of wonder. They first performed in 1990 at The Mirage and proved to be the perfect Vegas combination: the magic of Siegfried & Roy, Masters of the Impossible. Although Roy passed away in May 2020 and Siegfried in January 2021, their legend lives on.
Since its inaugural Las Vegas Auction in 2008, Barrett-Jackson has been honored to showcase a wealth of vehicles belonging to the city’s top entertainers – including Elvis, Liberace and Dean Martin – and often welcomed Vegas superstars such as Wayne Newton, Siegfried & Roy and Penn Gillette to the auction stage. At the 2021 Las Vegas Auction, Barrett-Jackson will be offering an incredible selection of vehicles from a number of Vegas icons.
First up are a pair of highly collectible cars from the Siegfried & Roy estate: A 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing and a 1994 Rolls-Royce Corniche.
The limited-edition Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing Coupe (Lot #771) from the inaugural 2011 model year naturally caught the eye of Siegfried Fischbacher, and his longtime partner Roy Horn purchased the car for him at the 2019 Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas Auction. Bristling with cutting-edge technologies and visually recalling the revered 300SL of the 1950s, with its radical “gullwing” doors, the car’s motivation comes from AMG’s 563-horsepower, 6.2-liter M159 V8 mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The “Silver Arrow” can reach a top speed in excess of 200 mph, surges to 60 mph in as little as 3.5 seconds and sprints through the quarter-mile in just a tick over 11 seconds. While already striking in Iridium Silver Metallic paint over Classic Red leather upholstery, the vehicle was subsequently fitted with a full chrome body wrap for greater exclusivity.
Presented as a gift to Roy Horn on the occasion of his 50th birthday, the 1994 Rolls-Royce Corniche IV (Lot #772) is one of only 219 examples produced from 1993 to 1996. As Britain’s most expensive automobiles at launch, these coach-built beauties were given their own unique identity in 1971 and named “Corniche” after the exotic roads that wind along the French Cote d’Azur. Power comes from a 6.75-liter V8 engine that propels the Corniche from rest to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds, with a top speed nearing 130 mph. Luxuriously equipped and trimmed in leather upholstery, this Corniche IV comes to market with an enchanting selection of images depicting Siegfried & Roy with the vehicle, and some of the beautiful animal co-stars of the duo’s world-famous shows.
“Mr. Las Vegas,” Wayne Newton, has long been a friend of Barrett-Jackson and is a known collector car enthusiast. At the Las Vegas Auction, the iconic entertainer will be bringing three of his vehicles to the block, including two Rolls-Royces (one a Silver Seraph sedan from 1979 and the other, Lot #703.3, a Silver Shadow II from 1999), as well as a one-of-one custom 1980 Mercedes-Benz 380SL roadster (Lot #703). The Mercedes, fully customized by Niko-Michael Coachworks of Port Washington, New York, is particularly remarkable. Handmade moldings on the car’s sides feature gold inlays and gold details on the roof feature engraving reminiscent of Egyptian hieroglyphics. With hand-fabricated body panels and a retractable hardtop, the reimagined 380SL now carries a naval/aquatic theme inspired by classic 1940s wooden boats. Power comes from a 3.8-liter fuel-injected V8 engine mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, and the car rolls on 16-inch gold BBS mesh wheels and Pirelli tires.
Once owned by the King of the Rat Pack himself, Frank Sinatra, a 1970 Maserati Ghibli (Lot #740) is headed to the Barrett-Jackson auction block in Las Vegas. Fittingly named for the strong southwesterly winds of the Sahara Desert, the Maserati Ghibli was a dynamic and flowing design penned by the great Gioretto Giugiaro. Introduced at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, the Ghibli was Maserati’s exotic 2+2 Grand Tourer. The design looked as if it was born of the wind, too. The long and sleek hood catches the eye and carries to it the angular and sharp Kamm-tail rear. Design aside, it’s the power that lets this Maserati move like its namesake for under the hood sits a race-bred V8. Fed by four Weber DCNF carburetors, the dry-sump quad-cam 4.7-liter engine produces a hearty 330hp and sends it to the rear wheels via a ZF 5-speed manual transmission.
While not an entertainer, Phil Maloof was unquestionably another Las Vegas icon. Known to all as “Uncle Phil,” Maloof – who passed away in April 2020 at the age of 93 – was a patriarch of the well-known Maloof family, which includes his nephews George, Joe, Gavin, Phil Jr. and niece Adrienne (of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” fame). Originally from New Mexico, the family first acquired and operated the Fiesta Rancho Casino in Las Vegas and later developed and operated the luxurious Palms Casino and Palms Place Resort. The Uncle Phil Maloof Car Collection – which was housed in five custom garages on two acres of land near to his personal residence – included some 80 perfectly preserved examples of fine Duesenbergs, Rolls-Royces, Lincolns, Packards and Cadillacs, many of them hailing from the 1930s and ’40s. A special offering of five luxurious vehicles from the collection – four Rolls-Royce Silver Spurs from the 1980s and a 1998 Bentley Mulsanne S – will be headed to the Las Vegas Auction.
Through the incredible vehicles crossing the auction block in Las Vegas over the years, Barrett-Jackson continues to play a role in the city’s enduring legacy. Don’t let these automotive offerings set to star at the 2021 Las Vegas Auction pass you by.
For up-to-date information on these and other vehicles headed to the 2021 Las Vegas Auction (with more being added daily), click HERE.