An aircraft salesman once approached Bill Harrah trying to sell him a helicopter to get between his hotels in Reno and Lake Tahoe. Harrah said he'd buy one if it could make the run faster than his Ferrari. The Ferrari won, or so the story goes, averaging 146 miles per hour, and a legend was made. Now that legendary Ferrari is going up for auction.
Harrah may be best remembered as the founder of an empire of hotels and casinos (today part of the Caesars Entertainment group), but he was also the West Coast distributor for the Prancing Horse marque.
When he bought this copper 365 GTB/4 Daytona for his own personal use in 1971, he had it thoroughly upgraded by noted tuner Frank Mir of Santa Monica to near competition standards. The vehicle that resulted became known as the Harrah Hot Rod, complete with flared fenders, competition-style alloys, and an upgraded version of the 4.4-liter V12 engine later rated at 386 horsepower instead of the standard 352. Consider that, if you applied the same percentage gain to the Daytona's modern successor, you'd be left with a Ferrari 812 Superfast kicking out 865 hp instead of "only" 789.
Since Harrah's passing in 1978, his hot rod Daytona has passed through the hands of some notable collectors, but is now consigned – complete with “H” Nevada plates – for sale by RM Sotheby's during Monterey motor week this coming August.
Among Daytonas, factory Spiders and Competizione models tend to sell for the highest prices, with RM having sold a coupe of those roadsters for $3.3 million apiece. Harrah's will be offered without reserve, but is sure to fetch well more than the million bucks it looks. (Photos by Robin Adams, courtesy of RM Sotheby's.)