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How the ‘Bonnie and Clyde Death Car’ ended up in Primm

Updated March 24, 2024 - 10:16 am

The Primm Valley Resort & Casino is home to one of the weirdest roadside attractions in Southern Nevada — the bullet-ridden “Bonnie and Clyde Death Car.”

But, how did this car, stolen by the outlaw duo in Kansas and eventually ambushed in Louisiana, end up in Primm?

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stole the infamous Ford from Jesse and Ruth Warren in Topeka, Kansas. After the bandits’ deaths on May 23, 1934, the car, riddled with over 160 bullet holes, was returned to Kansas, and later sold.

The car spent years being exhibited at fairs and carnivals around the country until Jean casino owner Peter Simon bought the car at a Massachusetts car auction in 1973 for $175,000, or about $1.2 million today. It was the highest-priced antique car in the world at the time.

Peter Simon and the Bonnie and Clyde "death car" in 1973. The caption states: "Peter Simon, 22- ...
Peter Simon and the Bonnie and Clyde "death car" in 1973. The caption states: "Peter Simon, 22-year-old casino owner from Jean, Nev., bought the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Car" this weekend from $175,000, making it the highest priced antique car in the world, and no steal even by Clyde's Standards. The car, complete with bullet holes, was sold, along with a few hundred others, at a Princeton, Mass., auction." (Associated Press)

Simon was the owner and operator of Pop’s Oasis, taking over the property from the elder Peter “Pop” Simon in the early 1970s. He bought the car when he was just 22 years old and the then-youngest gaming licensee in Nevada.

Peter Simon, 22, with the Bonnie and Clyde "death car" in 1973. (Terry Todd/Las Vegas Review-Jo ...
Peter Simon, 22, with the Bonnie and Clyde "death car" in 1973. (Terry Todd/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Instead of keeping the car in his garage, Simon built a museum inside Pop’s Oasis with the car and other artifacts from the duo to draw in passersby driving into Las Vegas on Interstate 15.

Peter Simon in 1973 with a scrapbook of photos and articles of Bonnie and Clyde. (Terry Todd/La ...
Peter Simon in 1973 with a scrapbook of photos and articles of Bonnie and Clyde. (Terry Todd/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The museum drew in more than 100,000 visitors between 1973 and 1975, and, by charging $2.50 a head, made the casino around a quarter of a million dollars.

By December 1975, Simon told the Associated Press he planned to sell the car, saying it had “done its job” in getting his casino publicity, and felt it would be in bad taste to keep around amid the construction of the Jean Conservation Camp, a minimum security prison on the edge of town for female offenders.

The car was later bought by Gary Primm, son of Primm’s namesake Ernest Primm, for $250,000 in 1988 at auction after Simon sold Pop’s Oasis and liquidated everything in it from vehicles to floor polisher.

The car went on display at Whiskey Pete’s in 1988, and was joined over a decade later by Barrow’s bloodied shirt.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the display was briefly moved to the entrance of the Primm Mall at Primm Valley Resort and Casino, and moved again to Buffalo Bill’s in late 2022 when the casino reopened after a three-year closure.

The site of where the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Car" was located inside the Prizm Outlets near Pr ...
The site of where the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Car" was located inside the Prizm Outlets near Primm Valley Resort & Casino on March 15, 2024. (Taylor Lane/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Today, the car can be found on Buffalo Bill’s casino floor in a large glass box, guarded by two Bonnie and Clyde mannequins, memorabilia and several Bonnie and Clyde-themed slot machines.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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