On Tuesday I did a bit more exploring of places to visit in L.A. and decided to check out The Petersen Automotive Museum on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.
To the casual observer from outside the museum looks like any other featureless building in L.A. (aside from the car sticking to the side of it), but little did I know what wonders lay waiting inside.
I'm not a car fanatic at all and I only started driving over a year ago, but I can appreciate a good looking motor, just like when they had The Gilmore Heritage Auto Show at The Farmers Market in June last year.
The museum is dedicated to the exploration and presentation of the history of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture, using L.A. as the prime example. It has a great selection of classic cars, motorcycles, automobile oddities, vehicles featured in movies and even cars previously owned by Hollywood stars themselves.
Take for example the car beneath the Hollywood star cars sign, it is a 1956 Jaguar XKSS formerly owned by Steve McQueen. The XKSS was a road-going version of the successful Jaguar D-type racing car and is one of only sixteen built.
After purchasing the car, McQueen had it repainted from the original white to his favourite green, added polished Dunlop wheels and retrimmed the interior black from red. He sold the car in the early 70's, but eventually bought it back and kept it to his death from cancer in 1980.
In addition to 'star cars' The Petersen Museum also has a great selection of vehicles from movies and TV shows, such as Batman, Speed Racer, Transformers 2, Herbie, Little Miss Sunshine and more. Check out the full collection of movie vehicles at Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props.
The cars displayed throughout the museum reflect decades of different period styles and technological advances, from the early models to the latest looks.
1903 Cadillac Model A Runabout
The Cadillac was named after Le Sieur Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of detroit and was introduced at the Third Annual National Automobile Show in Madison Square Garden in January 1903.
Its single-cylinder, ten-horsepower engine could reach a top speed of 30 miles per hour and cost $750, which was considered modest for the era.
1929 Austin Seven 'Chummy'
First introduced in 1922, by 1926 the Austin Seven had proven itself a popular and affordable car for the masses, doubling in production from the previous year. Simple and reliable, capable of over 50 miles to the gallon they were surprisingly quick and nimble.
The car above is a four-seat Tourer with coachwork by Holden of Australia. Manufactured all over the world by licence, by the time they were discontinued in 1939, the Seven 'Chummy' accounted for over 300,000 sales for Austin. The first BMWs and Datsuns were simply re-badged Sevens.
1931 Twin Coach Delivery Truck
This distinctive Twin Coach delivery truck became a trademark for the Helms Bakery company in Culver City, L.A. The low floor and upright driving position enabled the driver to hop in and out quickly at frequent stops and local residents became used to the characteristic 'toot-toot' of the horn which heralded the arrival of freshly baked goods.
1915 Stutz White Squadron Racer
The White Squadron Stutz engine design borrowed heavily from the 1914 Mercedes Grand Prix car. Designed to compete against the advanced European cars, Earl Cooper's Number 8 raced successfully for several years before being sold to a collector.
Repurchased and restored by Cooper in the 1930's, he donated the 'Stutz' to the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History in 1938.
1945 Bell Special Midget Racer
This Bell Special has a double overhead camshaft Offenhauser engine, which had a high power-to-weight ration making them ideal for light cars racing on dirt and other slippery surfaces. Bought in the 1950's by Roy Richter, the Bell Special remains in possession of his family.
1960 Peterbilt Model 351
"Piss'd Off Pete"
This street legal truck, which is a caricature of certain 1960's and 1970's top fuel altered dragsters, was built by monster engine automotive artist, Randy Grubb. "Piss'd Off Pete" took 3,000 hours to complete and weighs 7,500 pounds.
1952 Agajanian Special
J.C. Agajanian backed many successful racecars and drivers including Troy Ruttman, who at twenty-two drove the Agajanian Special to victory in the 1952 Indianapolis 500.
The Petersen Museum has three floors packed with different car exhibits including these in The Bruce Meyer Gallery.
1927 Ford Roadster
Hot Rod Magazine 50th Anniversary cover car
Chip Fosse designed this roadster to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first issue of Hot Rod Magazine, published in January 1948. This contemporary roadster evokes the look and feel of Regg Schlemmer's original cover car for the magazine.
1925 Ford "Golden Star" Altered 'T' Roadster
This colourful hot rod was awarded America's Most Beautiful Roadster accolade an unprecedented two times, in 1989 and 1991. Constructed by Ernie Immerso and Don Thelan from parts of two Model T Fords to create the body, the 'Golden Star' is uniquely made with 24 karat gold plating, truly living up to its name.
1927 Ford Hot Rod
Ala Kart II
Ala Kart II was built by Howdy Ledbetter of Fremont, California, as a tribute to the original Ala Kart, the first two-time winner of the AMBR (America's Most Beautiful Roadster) trophy.
1965 Calico Surfer
The Calico Surfer is one of many theme cars built during the mid-1960's. It was specially created for local contractor and surf magazine publisher Calvin Clark and cost $22,000 to construct. A true 'woodie', the car is decorated with genuine ash, with a brass radiator ornament .
1932 Ford 'Orange Twist' Model 18 Roadster
This 'Orange Twist' hot rod was America's Most Beautiful Roadster Winner in 1988 and was built by Ermie Immerso.
1981 De Lorean DNC 12
In 1981 and 1982, former Pontiac executive John DeLorean built a stylish, upscale sports car that retailed for $26,175. Although a major selling point was the car's low-maintenance stainless steel finish, three cars were painted for experimental purposes and three were gold-plated.
Created in 1981 for an American Express promotion, the 24-karat gold-plated cars were listed in their Christmas catalogue for $85,000.
This DeLorean car was displayed in the lobby of a Texas bank from 1981 until it was donated to the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2003. It remains in entirely original condition, only having traveled a mere 7.4 miles since new.
And if a DeLorean is considered a 'contemporary' car, then what about this futuristic looking specimen.
Arfons 'Green Monster' Jet Car
You'll find this amazing looking car outside the entrance to the museum in the car park. Built and driven by Art Arfons, the 'Green Monster' is three-time holder of the World Land Speed Record.
The car was powered by a 15,000-pound thrust General Electric J-79 jet engine from a B-58 Hustler bomber that Arfons bought in a damaged condition for $5,000.
Arfons set his final World Land Speed Record of 576.553 miles per hour on 7th November, 1965, only to lose it again eight days later. After a severe crash in 1966, he rebuilt the car from original parts, but was unable to race the vehicle again and ultimately sold it to Slick Gardner.
As you can see the lighting in the museum was varied, which meant it was harder to take great pictures, but I hope you can appreciate just some of the wonderful vehicles on display.
Come back tomorrow for more intriguing autos on display in L.A...