Motortopia - EVERYTHING Automotive!
Exciting News! Motortopia App Now Available on Apple App Store!  
Close Ad

Take a Tour: Petersen Automotive Museum

MICHAEL ECKERSON March 04, 2023 Industry Updates

Surrounded by all of downtown Los Angeles, the Petersen Automotive Museum stands out in its surroundings. A sculpted and modern architectural form wrapped in undulating stainless steel. 

The building beckons with a promise of wonder just inside.

The museum is dark. There are no windows. The ultra violet light from the outside kept carefully away from these pampered and pristine examples of the normally ubiquitous automobile. Each display is carefully lit with radiant spot lights which bathe the vehicles in a purposeful, neutral cast to ensure your attention is drawn – like a moth to a flame.

From Model A to Zephyr, this institution of automotive excellence does not disappoint

The Ferrari exhibit displays 70 years racebred heritage
The unique architectural design stands out downtown Los Angeles
1955 Mercury D-528 Beldone

There is a sense of respect given to the automobiles within these walls. Each display honors the craft, design and purpose that these machines contribute to our lives. But more so, the statement, the culture and the impact.The museum strives to communicate that the car is more than an appliance. It is a modern historical companion.

There are automotive examples you will not find anywhere else. At the time of our exclusive invitation to visit and document the Petersen Museum for this article, The Art of Bugatti exhibit was on display. Many of these pieces have not been on display or in the public eye for decades. In addition, there are features of furniture, paintings and artwork from this unique and special family of artists and craftsmen.

An ever-popular collection is the movie car collection, or “Star Cars”.  A wonderful selection of cars we have bonded with in our youth, and through today. The original Bat Cycle with its whimsically designed side-car is featured prominently on a raised foundation. The Batcycle made its first appearance in 1966 in the Batman TV series. Not far away, a newer Batmobile from the movies Batman and Batman Returns. As you walk down the row of Star Cars you will see some of the more notable cars are: the Back to the Future Delorean, the Thunderbird from Thelma and Louise, and the Ferrari 308 from Magnum P.I.  Personally I was drawn to an original Herbie the Love Bug from the movie Herbie: Fully Loaded, and the infamous red Plymouth Fury known as Christine.

The exterior features a stainless-steel ribbon assembly, made of 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel in 308 sections, 25 supports and 140,000 custom stainless-steel screws

1922 Chevrolet Series 490 Coupe 1912 Indian Single

Herbie (1963 VW Beetle) and the Christine Fury parked beside the Magnum P.I. 1982 Ferrari 308 GTSI
An exhibit of vintage products, which included primitive mobile telephones, food service trays and several frighteningly inadequate child seats
1966 Volkswagen Type 265 Double Cab Pickup

Not to be missed is The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración. This is an exceptional collection of iconic and inspired lowriders which embody the formation of multicultural communities through a passion for this form of car customization.  As “canvases of self-expression,” lowriders serve as the basis of artistic creativity. This exhibition is only through July 2018, so do not miss this wonderful collection.

Without question, this should be a destination for you if you appreciate the finest examples of the automotive influence. There is something special about the meticulous care and respect these automotive jewels are given at the Petersen. Experience it for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll find a new reason to love your local car show rat rods, sleds and jalopies. It shows that all cars have character. And we love them for it.

Concept cars are born when imaginations are allowed to run free

1984 Duesenberg II Model SJ The Great Gatsby (2013)

Jean Bugatti’s masterpiece 1936 Bugatti Type 57sC Atlantic

In 2015, the museum underwent an extensive $90 million renovation

1953 DODGE Storm Z-250 by Bertone

One place proved too illusive for us on our visit was The Vault. Deep below the museum is a trove of supremely unique vehicles with historical significance and pedigree. No cameras are allowed in The Vault, so our work here was done. But we will definitely be back!

Be sure to make time for all the spectacular displays and The Vault experience at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Our thanks to Kat for the personal tour and all the staff at The Petersen for their remarkable work.

Each display is carefully lit with radiant spot lights…

The Chip Foose 1932 FORD 0032 Roadster 2000 AMBR Winner
El Rey, 1963 Chevrolet Impala

Not to be missed is The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración. This is an exceptional collection of iconic and inspired lowriders…

PETERSEN Amazon Prime Video takes over Petersen Automotive Museum

Amazon Prime Video held a special free event to mark the launch of Season Two of the hit original series The Grand Tour. The event was held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The hosts: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May were not in attendance but the event rolled on without them. This was the culminating event in Amazon Prime Video’s nationwide journey to bring The Grand Tour to fans in local markets. 

A custom built-out marquee sign (perfect for taking photos!) helped direct the fans to registration. Air fresheners, and snacks from the concession stand were handed out as attendees entered this immersive drive-in experience. The Grand Tour Fans were given the ultimate VIP access. Guests were given a wristband upon arrival and with it, admission was free to the Museum. This special wristband also gave them an all-access pass to everything Grand Tour related within the museum. After fans completed each of the four checkpoints they ended at the final gifting station, where they received Grand Tour car blankets. Through a partnership with the museum’s “cruise-in” group, attendees enjoyed a specialty car show on the top floor of the Petersen. The final touch point was the voting station, where attendees were able to vote on the best car on display.

Helpful and thoughtful Amazon staff

There were giveaways for all in attendance: The Grand Tour Tool Kit, which they can have custom engraved on-site added a special touch. A selection of breakfast offerings along with beverages of your choice, all complimentary. The DJ kept the event lively with a musical backdrop. A commemorative photo booth was set up on site to provide memorable photo keepsakes of the event. Throughout the event, screenings of The Grand Tour Season One played to the crowd of enthusiasts.

About Amazon Prime Video’s Original Series The Grand Tour Season two of the record-breaking The Grand Tour will see presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May embarking on their most extensive Grand Tour ever, traveling through more locations than before and attempting to avoid any further mishaps and injury along the way. The trio will spend over 100 days across five continents, racking up more passport stamps from Croatia, Mozambique, Dubai, Spain, Switzerland, Colorado, New York and many more exotic locations around the world.

Event participants checking in with the Amazon staff

A specialty car show on the top floor of the Petersen
Comfortable spaces were available to relax and enjoy the event


Share your EVENT!
Official Motortopia Event Schedule
There was a problem with your
There was a problem with your