Riding Through History at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Los Angeles auto fans have something to gloat over. The Petersen Automotive Museum is located on Wilshire Boulevard, and home to LA’s largest museum collection of antique cars and automobilia. For just ten dollars admission (adults), visitors can see some of the rarest cars in the world.

The museum was founded by Robert and Margie Petersen in 1994. Their aim was to create a learning center for Los Angelinos explaining how the city came to be the commuter society it is today, and how the tools of those commutes have evolved over a century.

The museum’s main exhibit shows early automobiles found in California in the 1900s, and the city’s efforts to accommodate change brought about by the motor car. On display are beautiful recreations of period avenues and settings, such as a 1930s Bugatti dealership and an insurance office. Along with general history, the Petersen museum proudly showcases vintage postwar hot rods and prototype racers.

Most of the displays are part of a theme exhibit that is subject to change. The museum currently offers exhibits on alternatively fueled automobiles, private celebrity collections, and movie cars. Perhaps the most interesting is the Hot Wheels section, which shows off thousands of Hot Wheels cars along with actual, life-size customs the diecast replicas are based on.

So what is the best item in the museum? Is it the Batmobile from the 1960s TV show? One of Chip Foose’s hot rods? The turbine-powered GM XP-21 Firebird prototype? If it were still on show at the museum, it would be easy to nominate Steve McQueen’s beautiful 1956 Jaguar XKSS roadster. But making that choice is up to you. Feel free to check it out at 6060 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, or call 323-930-CARS for further information.

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