RENO — A $28,000 customized 1951 Willys Jeep, tricked-out with a custom canoe rack, interior wool seats and stickers representing all major Tahoe-Reno-Sparks attractions rumbled into sight Wednesday, representing Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority’s new marketing tool.
“It’s a new marketing program unlike anything you’ve ever seen before,” announced Christopher Baum, president and CEO of RSCVA and creator of the concept. “It’s a real conversation starter.”
The Visitors Authority’s intention is to wheel the Jeep into any and all festivals, activities and events in the Reno/Sparks/North Lake Tahoe area to capture the attention of guests attending conventions, trade shows and high-profile activities.
“Everybody loves checking out a classic car … especially one that is beautifully hand-lettered and pinstriped, upholstered in Pendleton Indian blanket material and topped off with a handmade, aluminum roof rack system packed with everything from skis and snowshoes to a kayak, golf clubs, fishing rods and a slalom water ski,” Baum said.
The Jeep was purchased online and delivered from Atlanta in April. Once in Reno, all work on the four-wheel-drive marketing tool started.
Local companies and their specialists, such as Twisted Stitch Upholstery’s Matthew Villa Fuerte hand-rolled a special Pendleton wool fabric, with its burgundy, tan and other outdoor colors, for the car’s seats.
“We used touch and roll and old-style welting to give it that old look,” Villa Fuerte said.
“Welting is a technique using a cording technique around the edges of the seats to resemble how vehicles were touched-up in the early days,” he said. “We hit the nail on the head.”
Peter Gebhardt, of Reno Speedworks, designed and built the aluminum box that sits atop the Jeep, to hold a variety of sports toys.
“It represents everything that goes on in (the region),” Gebhardt said. “We have to do things that stand out. There are so many things that are not even on our radar screen People will stop and look at this vehicle.”
Each special attention to detail holds a special meaning, from the custom license plate that reads “DO RENO”, framed by a fabulous, chrome “Reno, Nevada” license plate holder.
Plastered to the back windows are stickers representing a variety of events held year-round in the region.
“It’s the perfect conversation starter to attract attention and help educate prospective visitors on the incredible diversity of things to do throughout northern Nevada,” Baum said.
Baum, who comes Reno from Detroit, admitted that being a “gear-head” sales and marketing pro helped him come up with the idea.
“It’s one of a kind,” he said.
As long as visitors reach the region for one reason or another, they will gamble — at least 55 percent of them, he said. But, he does not want to push gambling as the reason to visit.
The Jeep was unveiled at the National Automobile Museum in Reno.
“It wouldn’t be a surprise that the Reno area is full of automotive talent, and I was quickly able to assemble a team of wonderful partners here,” Baum said.
The RSCVA is the primary agency supporting the promotion of meeting, convention and tourism business for the Reno/Sparks/North Lake Tahoe region. For more information visit www.VisitRenoTahoe.com