Ron Pratte is a very wealthy self-made man who has spent the past couple of decades amassing an incredible collection of cars, trucks, and memorabilia. He's kept it all cloaked in secrecy, with very few people granted access to see inside.
Until now. Over the summer, he announced his decision to sell it through Barrett-Jackson. As in everything. We were one of the lucky few to be invited out to Pratte's museum in Arizona and granted early access, and there's some insane stuff to be bought if you've got the dough.
1. 1936 Chrysler Air Flow
Forget that there are only four Chrysler Air Flows left in existence for a minute. This thing is a properly customized work of art. There’s literally no fault to be found anywhere in the craftsmanship of this vehicle.
Oh yeah, and it’s got a friggin’ 500 hp Viper V10 wedged under the hood and a TV that pops out of the trunk. Simply calling it nuts doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
2. 1966 Shelby Cobra Super Snake
Carroll Shelby built this car as his personal plaything. Here’s what you need to know: Carroll took a normal 427 Competition Cobra—already one of the rarest and fastest Cobras produced—and promptly put two superchargers on it.
It was so fast that when he built a second one for good friend Bill Cosby, the legendary comedian handed it right back out of fear. The poor soul who bought the second car couldn’t handle it either, and wound up over a cliff.
3. 1957 Chevy Dune Buggy
The 1957 Chevy Bel Air is about as classic Americana as you get...until you chop the car completely and turn it into a sand dune-eating buggy like something you’d expect to find in The Thomas Crown Affair.
Amazingly, Pratte actually used to take this out into the Arizona desert with his buddies, which sounds extraordinarily awesome.
4. 1978 Tupolev N007 Gullwing
In the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union realized it needed a method of quickly rescuing Cosmonauts that were stranded in Siberia after coming back to Earth. This boat was designed to cross not just streams but also countless miles of frozen tundra after being transported by helicopter.
The body is obviously stunning and looks like a race boat, but the real trick is the engineering. This double propeller won all sorts of awards when it came out because it was so efficient. It only needs 360 hp to get going, and the engine can actually start using compressed air, since batteries don’t always work in the extremes of a Siberian winter.
5. Kip’s Big Boy
The full, life-sized Big Boy is actually kinda creepy in person, especially if you keep wondering when Dr. Evil is gonna pop out.
6. Buddy Taylor’s 1962 Sprint Car
Buddy Taylor was a sprint car legend, but even if you’ve never heard of him, you can appreciate his 1962 sprint car. There’s something pure about a 52-year-old vehicle that was little more than a steering wheel, an engine, and a seat.
Still, as engine porn goes, this is just nasty.
7. Vintage Cash Register
Okay, this has just about nothing to do with cars, except that in all likelihood this was once in a gas station. Still, it’s both seriously cool and absolutely pristine.
8. 1937 Cord Westchester
In 1937, Cords were noted for being innovative, rolling out things like front-wheel drive, and that sleek Art Deco styling that will always be classic. You’ll never see one converted to a full on hot rod...except for this one.
9. 1927 Indian 401
With 30 hp back in 1927, the Indian 401 was seriously quick. This particular one is so perfectly restored it might just be the best one left on the planet.
10. A bunch of vintage automotive memorabilia
There are a ton of wonderful old gas pumps that have been fully restored, not to mention literally hundreds of great old oil signs.
And some signs that are just downright funny.
11. Howard Hughes’s Personal Buick
Not gonna lie, the man behind the Spruce Goose was crazy. From the outside it looks like a normal 1953 Buick Roadmaster.
But it was hermetically sealed and had a special ventilation system that ran through a “germ box” of Huges’s own design. It also was capable of jumpstarting airplanes, so he didn’t have to rely on his mechanics to prep his aircraft, lest they sabotage him. But hey, he was rich. There’s a lot going on with this car; look for a full feature on it soon.
12. The Ringling Brothers’ Circus Wagon
This is the actual 1915 Model T used by the Most Famous Show On Earth. That gold flourish you see? Actual 24 karat gold leaf. The wood on the wheels? Made rather ironically by the Amish.
Originally, the cage was wrought iron, but it was converted to brass during the restoration because it’s prettier, just like the tigers were converted to stuffed models because they’re safer.
13. Blastolene B702
You’re probably curious what the heck you’re looking at. The short answer is this is a refined product from the same folks that made Jay Leno’s famous “Tank Car." It has a mind-bogglingly huge V12 under the hood, hand-blown glass for a grill, and is definitely unlike anything you’ve ever seen in person.
The midnight blue paint is so deep and perfect it’s kind of eerie, almost like looking into a black hole.
14. 1990 Concept Sky Commuter Aircraft
When this first came out, it was supposed to revolutionize personal transportation, as your personal car/plane/helicopter. This particular one has never been flown. Only three of them were ever made though, and, per Craig Jackson, the other two kinda died along with their owners.
No, not just any red 1958 Plymouth Fury. This is one of the actual cars used during filming of the Stephen King movie about a homicidal car.
16. GM’s 1950 Motorama Futurliner and 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special
The Futurliner was GM’s look into what road trips would one day be like. Evidently we’d all drive around in RVs that held our “normal” cars in a special compartment under the cabin. Riiiiiiight. Still, this one has been so carefully restored that Pratte not only had a special paint booth built for it, he had special tire molds made so they could recreate the rubber on the truck. That '54 Bonneville Special? It's another one of GM's futuristic designs and it actually toured with the Futurliner back in the '50s.