Monday, July 20, 2015 | 6 p.m.
Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach wraps his travels to Sardinia and outside Rome in Santa Marinella on the coast to begin his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their words of wisdom.
We continue today with The Green Goddess of “Absinthe,” the sexy burlesque beauty Melody Sweets, and the world’s largest and wildest limousine builder Jay Ohrberg, who recently moved to Las Vegas. Here are Jay and his wild rides:
It’s an honor to do this guest column while Robin Leach is on vacation. Though I’ve never met him face-to-face, my custom car creations have many times. When he was shooting “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” my wildest limousines appeared on the show five times — and in an article he wrote for the Las Vegas Sun in May, he even mentioned the fact that every episode of the show started with a shot of the record-setting 100-foot limo I made in the 1990s.
Now, with the encouragement of the folks at Guinness World Records, I’m excited to embark on an even more ambitious project. I’m starting with two Rolls Royces, and after cutting them in half and slicing them together, it will wind up probably having 50 wheels, a 25-foot lap pool and a helicopter landing pad.
Creatively, the sky’s the limit. It’s a $200,000 project that will be built in three pieces — before we put them together — at the amazing place I call home every day, the Michael Dezer Hollywood Cars Museum by Jay Ohrberg at Hot Rod City on Dean Martin Drive.
I recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. Contributors will get a number of perks, including getting to watch me build it in my glass-enclosed workshop on the museum premises and going for test rides. Once it’s ready to roll, the plan is to keep it here on display, and I eventually hope to put it in a casino as a tourist attraction on the Strip.
If you come to the museum right now, in addition to more than 100 of our film, TV original and replica vehicles and other custom cars, you can see one of my earlier limo creations, a 40-foot pink hot tub convertible that also was filmed for “Lifestyles.” I hope that I’ve piqued your curiosity about this new project. If so, please check out the Kickstarter page.
Now, let me more formally introduce myself. When you’ve been a custom car builder, designer and collector for five decades, you earn some unique nicknames along the way. Over the years, people have called me “Hollywood Jay” because of the crazy vehicles I have built for big movies like “Batman Returns” and “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and “King of Show Cars” for the many world tours I’ve done with some of my more ambitious creations. Though I admit that it’s a little less flashy, I’m excited now to add “Las Vegas resident” to the list of monikers.
Throughout my career as a builder and collector, I have always wanted to create a museum to showcase my work. Now, with the opening this past year of the Michael Dezer Hollywood Cars Museum by Jay Ohrberg, I’m getting to live my dream. The museum is in association with Michael, one of the world’s foremost car collectors and owner of the Dezer Collection, whose primary location is in North Miami, Fla.
The venture started this way. A few years back, I sold Michael eight cars through a broker, including the 40-foot pink limo, Batcycle from “Batman Returns,” tank with jet engine and coffin car from “The Munsters.” Sometime this past year, he called me out of the blue and said that he wanted to meet me. He flew into Las Vegas, and my wife and I headed up from our home in La Quinta, Calif.
We met at Hod Rod City, which he owns, and he told me that he wanted to make me famous again. He explained that he had this building full of classic cars, and he wanted to put our collections together and create the Hollywood Cars Museum. I spent time with him in Florida at his Miami Auto Museum, which features 1,200 cars, and we cut a deal.
Pretty soon, I was hauling my vehicles from the California desert with a two-car trailer — 22 trips in all! They included cars, motorcycles, military vehicles, you name it. Michael sent me about 10 containers with different vehicles, too. Now we’ve got about 90 cars, and since we opened, I’ve built about five new ones. You can check out our website at HollywoodCarsMuseums.com.
Better yet, come by sometime and see for yourself. Visitors will have the opportunity to see me build these things in my glass-enclosed workshop on the premises.
It’s difficult to narrow down a list of what you’ll see here, but some highlights include 10 James Bond vehicles (including the Lotus Esprit Submarine Car, an amphibious vehicle driven by Roger Moore in “The Spy Who Loved Me”); various Batmobiles from the TV and film incarnations of “Batman”; Doc Hudson Hudson Hornet (from the animated Pixar film “Cars”); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; “Back to the Future” DeLorean; “Knight Rider” pursuit car; cars from the old “Green Hornet” TV show and its bullet-riddled equivalent from the 2011 film; Volkswagen Beetle from the “Herbie” films; and “Bonnie & Clyde” Death Mobile replica.
Fans of classic TV shows will enjoy items like “The A-Team” van, “Starsky & Hutch’s” Gran Torino, coffin car from “The Munsters” and gems from “The Dukes of Hazard” and “Hardcastle & McCormick.” I’m also proud of my three special replica “Flintstones” cars, including the custom-built main family car from the film, Fred’s sports car and Barney’s log car.
Despite the name, the museum has more than just Hollywood cars. I also get to showcase a Bunkbed Hot Rod; Grand Piano Hot Rod; The Red Baron; a 12-foot-tall Roller Skate Hot Rod I built for designer Marc Jacobs; and new limo based on the legendary 110-foot one.
Returning to Las Vegas brings back some great memories. If I recall correctly, I made my first trip here back in the early 1970s when I saw the Ike and Tina Turner revue at a casino that probably doesn’t exist anymore! I stopped there on my way from my home in Moline, Ill., out to L.A. I won a lot of drag races across the Midwest and wanted to race my Chrysler Railer in Long Beach.
I rolled into town here in a Lincoln Town Car hauling a trailer with the dragster. I parked the car for days and was fascinated by the mix of gambling halls and strip joints. It was different from the family-friendly tourist town it is now. There are so many things that have popped up since then.
Every weekend, my wife and I make it a point to check out different casinos and new places to eat. We’re most impressed so far with the very classy Wynn and Encore. We haven’t been on the High Roller, but we plan to go from A to Z and make the most of my free time away from the museum.
I heard recently that Las Vegas was ranked the seventh most unfriendly city in the U.S. I’m not sure who made that assessment, but it’s not true. Everyone we’ve met here is great, and we’re excited to keep exploring our new hometown!
Check out our other guest column today from sexy “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace star Melody Sweets. On Tuesday, our guest columnists are Nate Morris of Mirage headliners Boyz II Men and celebrity chef Alex Stratta.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.