Petersen Automotive Museum, Part 1

Dean Evans
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There's always something new and interesting at LA's Petersen

There's always something new and interesting at LA's Petersen

Almost 30 years old, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is possibly the world’s best car museum and a must-see for those heading to or just passing through.

Founded and first opened in June 1994 by magazine publisher Robert E Petersen and his wife Margie, the $40USD million on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, near the heart of LA.

Undergoing a massive $125USD million renovation in 2015, the museum’s façade underwent a massive facelift with stainless-steel ribbons providing an unmistakable, iconic landmark for any car enthusiast.

Over three floors with more than 100 vehicles on display in its 25 galleries, the displays is largely split into two, with the public display above ground, while a special Vault is located in the underground carpark (see part 2).

With a large parking area, visitors are met by some outdoors vehicles on display. We visited in June, and were met by the hulking Cyber Truck semi-trailer parked outside.

Walking into the building, the lobby was home to a Porsche 911 in a full-size Matchbox case, right near the large gift shop with all kinds of car culture memorabilia and clothing.

A $19.95USD adult ticket grants entry to the three floors where it’s easy to spend between 2-4 hours absorbing all the exhibits. During our time there, Porsche’s 75th anniversary took up the majority of a floor, while outside was a quasi-car display, featuring parking and California sunshine, and the luck of seeing a Tesla Cybertruck roll up.

From famous movie cars – the only DeLorean used in all three Back to the Future movies for example, to the 1960s and 1980s Batmobiles, the pink Honda S2000 from Fast & Furious, Knight Rider’s KITT, the Mystery Machine, Lightning McQueen, Eleanor Mustang, the unicycle from Men In Black, and a host of iconic, famous and significant autos over the years.

The ground floor was home to a large Tesla exhibition, showcasing the battery technology and even a replica of the Starman Roadster that was launched into space. And another Cybertruck, its nose lifed to load a Cyberquad. Tesla has become an integral part of California, if you hadn’t already guessed, with substantially fewer sneers than the rest of the world (though they’re still present).

Once toured out, there’s the onsite Meyers Manx Café on site, replete with the beach buggy in an open area of the café, and a full, reasonably priced menu.

More mandatory than an option, a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum is more a motoring rote of passage for anyone in LA. For more info, visit


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