Vintage Car Museum


The Petersen Automotive Museum is one of the most prominent car museums in the United States, boasting an extensive collection of classic, muscle, and vintage cars. Located in Los Angeles, California, the museum showcases over 60 years of automotive history, featuring many rare and noteworthy models​1​.

Location and Foundation

The museum is situated on Wilshire Boulevard, within the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles. It’s part of the city’s renowned Museum Row, making it a vital cultural attraction in the area​2​. The Petersen Automotive Museum was founded on June 11, 1994, by magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen and his wife Margie, with an investment of $40 million. Initially, it was housed within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, but later relocated to a historic department store building, which had been designed by Welton Becket and opened in 1962​2​.

Renovation and Architecture

In 2015, the museum underwent a significant renovation costing $125 million. The architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox redesigned the building’s facade, implementing a stainless-steel ribbon assembly made from 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel. The renovation also included an interior redesign by The Scenic Route to accommodate changing exhibits. This remodeled museum opened its doors to the public again on December 7, 2015​2​.

Exhibits and Displays

The Petersen Automotive Museum houses over 100 vehicles in its 25 galleries, with the remaining half of the collection kept in a vault in the basement level. The museum’s exhibits are arranged over three floors, each with a unique focus. The ground floor emphasizes automotive artistry, showcasing an array of extravagant automobiles. The second floor is mainly dedicated to industrial engineering, with exhibits on design, performance, and interactive teaching displays. Special exhibits cover racing, motorcycles, hot rods, and customs. The third floor narrates the history of the automobile, particularly emphasizing the car culture of Southern California​2​.

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Noteworthy Exhibits

Some of the museum’s notable exhibits have included an extensive Porsche exhibit, a display on the history of the Japanese automotive industry, and an exhibit on powered children’s racecars​2​.

Famous Vehicles in the Collection

The museum’s collection includes some famous vehicles, such as the “NASCAR Herbie” Volkswagen Beetle from the movie Herbie: Fully Loaded, Suki’s hot pink Honda S2000 from 2 Fast 2 Furious, Lightning McQueen from Disney Pixar Cars, and a 1967 Ford GT40 Mk III. The collection also includes a 1956 Jaguar XKSS that was once owned by Steve McQueen, and a De Tomaso Pantera that belonged to Elvis Presley​2​.

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