Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde Q&A-- Where is the Bonnie & Clyde Death Car??

Herbst Gaming who owns the Terribles Casino chain, bought the Bonnie and Clyde death car & exhibit when it purchased Whiskey Pete's Casino in Primm, Nevada-- as part of a 3 casino acquisition in 2007. Unlike Gary Primm and Ray Paglia, who exhibited the Warren car and Clyde's death shirt as more or less a permanent attraction-- Herbst Gaming has allowed the B&C car and exhibit, to travel "on tour" to many of it's 15 casinos in Nevada, Missouri and Iowa.

There's good news and bad news to this story as it exists now. The good news is that due to the number of Terrible's Casinos, more people across America have been able to view the B&C death car-- as it's been presented nearer to them. The bad news is that Herbst Gaming who was a billion dollars in debt, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March of 2009-- has now lost their casinos. Last October 31st, Judge Greg Zive of Reno, Nevada approved what looks to be the final reorganization plan-- to what has been a controversial bankruptcy case.

It has been published, that assets of Herbst Gaming including their 15 casinos will be turned over to creditors some time in 2010. So stay tuned and keep an eye out for information concerning Herbst, Terribles and the Bonnie and Clyde death car. When ownership of the Warren car is presumably taken over, by a bank or other creditor as a result of Herbst Gaming assets being transferred-- hopefully we'll be able to track it's whereabouts through public information.

The best knowledge I have at this point, is that the Bonnie and Clyde death car has been back at it's location across the street from Whiskey Pete's Casino in Primm, Nevada since January of 2008. I've been told by a Herbst Gaming representative, there are no plans to move the B&C car at this time. For more information concerning the whereabouts of the B&C death car exhibit, contact Whiskey Pete's Casino at 1-800-fun stop.

"Update" 1/5/11-- A recent report that Boyd Gaming had purchased the B&C Death Car from the Terrible's Casino chain was erroneous. I did learn some assets may have been in play for purchase between the gaming companies, but the reported asking price of $5,000,000 may have been too steep for the car to have changed hands. I've also learned, you can now rent the historic B&C Death Car for that special occasion. Terrible's has confirmed, that the B&C car is currently located at the Terrible's Gold Ranch Casino in Verdi, Nevada. In the Spring of 2011, plans are in place to move the car back to Primm-- likely to Buffalo Bills. 1 800- fun stop should be the right phone number at Terrible's, for up to the minute info concerning the location of The Bonnie & Clyde Death Car.

Thanks for a great question, which is so often wondered.


18 comments:

Shelley said...

Thank you, Winston, for the informative update. The Death Car currently seems to be all caught up in the proverbial red tape, and resolving this issue will undoubtedly be a long and complicated process.

As a Gangster Museum tour guide, I am in a unique position of being frequently asked questions such as this. People always want to know where the car is - and who, exactly, owns it. It's hard to give a definitive answer when it's mired in so much confusion.

BTW, perhaps you could help clarify a little bit more of this confusion? You mention a fellow named Gary Primm, then went on to mention Whiskey Pete's, located in a town called "Primm", in Nevada. Is Gary Primm a descendant of this town's forefathers - or is the same name here simply some bizarre coincidence? Just curious!

A. Winston Woodward said...

Some research shows that Ernest Primm turned 400 acres he bought in 1951, along old U.S. 91 near the Nevada-California border-- along with another 400 acres he acquired from a small gas station on the way to Los Angeles, into a 12-room hotel called Whiskey Pete's. The inspiration for this name apparently came from a local character named Pete MacIntyre, who owned a gas station and made moonshine to make ends meet. Mr. MacIntyre who was known as Whiskey Pete, may have also owned parts of the area for a couple of decades. At some point, Whiskey Pete's was converted into a casino hotel.

The elder Primm, who died in 1981, turned Whiskey Pete's over to his son, Gary-- who formed a company called Primadonna Resorts Inc. In 1988 the B&C death car was bought by the owners of Whiskey Pete's, and was originally placed on display in it's lobby. Later the B&C car was given it's own location, across the street from Whiskey Pete's. Gary Primm's company built the Primadonna in 1990 and Buffalo Bill's in 1994. In 1996, Nevada officials changed the name of State Line to Primm-- to avoid confusion, as there was another place called Stateline at Lake Tahoe.

Gary Primm negotiated and jointly built a new entity called New York-New York, which opened in early 1997. In 1999, Primm sold the 3 border properties and his share of New York-New York to MGM Grand Inc. Herbst Gaming bought Whiskey Pete's (along with the B&C death car)-- Buffalo Bills and the Primm Valley Casino from MGM in 2007. Now with the advent of bankruptcy, Herbst Gaming has lost control of it's 3 Primm casinos plus 12 more-- located in Nevada, Missouri and Iowa. My thanks to Shelley for the question-- and to BookRags for a great research site.

Shelley said...

So in other words, this Herbst Gaming person (whatta name!) went broke and lost a grand total of 15 casinos -- and a bullet-riddled '34 Ford??! Hmm.... does this mean that the actual ownership has now reverted back to MGM or maybe to a bank or...???

Also, do you happen to know how much the Death Car is worth these days? And Clyde's shirt? I'm sure their value must increase substantially each year!

A. Winston Woodward said...

Herbst is a family affair-- a father and 3 sons. It's been reported that within the bankruptcy settlement, the son's have lost equity interest-- but have retained management of the casino empire, now owned by the major creditors.

As far as the value of the B&C artifacts mentioned, I would agree-- they have likely appreciated in value from their last bench marked prices. The car was last purchased for $250,000.-- and I understand there's a story known that $500,000. was turned down for the B&C car, as being a half million short.

Dave said...

Thank you Mr. Woodward for the excellent and continuously up to date Bonnie and Clyde site. I'm personally relieved that the death car is no longer traveling around in the back of a semi, from place to place. I know that's the way things are done with historical things such as the traveling Titanic Museum. I also know that a lot of people get to see it that might never have, but I worry that it could be accidentally damaged or destroyed on America's highways. Stranger things have happened. My Lord, what would you do, pound out the dents? I think about all the miles that it's traveled and for so many years. Heck I saw it at a car show in like 1971 or 1972 in Pgh. for an extra 50 cents. How about when they got it running and raced it for some promotion, insane. I hope the new owner repects the historical value of it, that it is available to the public, and it stops being used as a traveling sideshow. I guess I'm just a bit of a "nervous nellie".

A. Winston Woodward said...

Thanks for your comments Dave. There was talk of having the B&C death car back in Gibsland last May for the 75th anniversary of the ambush. I feel that would have been a unique and historic use of the car-- in having it perhaps return to the ambush site, at 9:15AM May 23rd, 2009.

But as things worked out, the car wasn't available. Now knowing of the financial difficulties associated with the Herbst bankruptcy, I can understand the unavailability of the Warren car for that use. It would have been a remarkable thing, to have had the B&C car in Louisiana for that day-- and great publicity for Herbst, but perhaps not desirable for them with the likely tags on news wires concerning their issues.

I'm at least glad it's whereabouts are known, and hopeful as you are-- that it's new owners will do the right thing and preserve the B&C car as it should be.

BarefootOkieGal said...

I've never actually seen the real "death car" - I remember once as a kid we were driving through that long stretch of states between California and Oklahoma and at a small roadside museum there they had a car that they advertised as being JUST LIKE the real car - same make and model, and someone had even shot it up a bit. When you compare some of the bullet holes on the real car to the holes you get when you just shoot a 12-gauge at a car a few times, it's easy to see the firepower of the BAR(s) that the posse were using - look how deeply indented some of the holes on the real car are! I've also seen photos of vehicles that claim to be the real death car, and it's easy to compare the pattern of the bullet holes to see the difference.

I was disappointed to read somewhere (don't remember where) that the windshield had to be replaced because the vehicle was going to be driven. I would have liked to have seen the car remain more or less untouched, as I feel a genuine historical item should be left in its original condition, but at least no one is refurbishing and steam-cleaning it!

joe from Canada said...

Hi Winston
I was in Vegas in October and I have been told and confirmed with the Hotel that the death car is now at the Terribles.... Sands Hotel in Reno Nevada

Jim from Atlanta said...

Does anyone remember seeing the death car in a tent display--if so, who was the old man who gave the leacture and such?

I never saw the B&C movie but I saw the death car in 1969 in a parking lot of a Arlen's grocery store in Decatur, Ga. I was 17 and worked there as a bag boy.
I helped an old man and two other guys put up the tent. The old man opened the front passenger door and invited me to sit inside if I wanted to. It smelled musky like an old car and it had dark stains on the seat and headliner. Part of the steering wheel was shot away. There were dozens of holes through the driver's door and entry and exit holes in the windshield.

He also showed an old 8mm movie that clearly showed Bonnie slumped over her head at a very peculiar angle touching Clydes right arm--The next year I joined the Army CID--I often wonder if seing that car lead me to that path?

Anyway, I clearly remember the old man's lecture which was pretty gruesome. He claimed one of the posse members called out "halt" and Clyde was pulling up a sawed off shotgun--there were two shotguns in the front seat along with two revolvers and a 45 auto pistol. The old man was very detailed--
Did any of you see the death car in the tent show?

callmaniac said...

According to a representative with Primm Valley Resort in Las Vegas the B & C death car has been moved to one of their resorts in Reno, Nevada.

BobH said...

The Bonnie and Clyde death car is on display at the Gold Ranch Casino on I80 at the Nevada California border.

Damon K said...

The B&C Death car is at the Gold Ranch Casino as BobH said. I have spoken to the management there and they "have no intention of moving it anytime soon." This subject is especially close to my heart as Bonnie is a cousin of mine on her mothers side. My entire family has been up to visit the car. It hasn't been maintained as one would expect but it's an "oldie."

godfther81 said...

The Bonnie and Clyde death car is back in Primm at Whiskey Pete's. I saw it today when I stopped for lunch on my way back from Vegas. It's parked next to Dutch Shultz car that is also on display.

A. Winston Woodward said...

So many want to know about the Bonnie & Clyde/Ruth Warren death car. "Many thanks" for the update.

crimedog said...

What the deuce???

In 2008, I visited the Gold Ranch Casino in Nevada and took many photos of the Death Car.

Today, I compared my photos to photos of the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car that was on loan to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment (date unknown). To my dismay, they are dramatically different. The bullet hole patterns do not align at all between the two cars, and the condition of the windshield on both cars are different, as well.

Which is the real McCoy????

A. Winston Woodward said...

The authentic Bonnie & Clyde Ruth Warren death car is in Nevada. The car at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment-- is the Bonnie & Clyde car from the '67 movie.

Delta Blues said...

Jim from Atlanta.... I too was able to view the Death car and sit in it at a Grocery store parking lot in St Jo Missouri in 1968.

Delta Blues said...

I viewed the car the summer of 1968 in St Jo Missouri in a parking lot at a grocery store.