Friday, July 31, 2009

Classic autos and famous cars at The Petersen Automotive Museum - Part two...

Yesterday I treated you all to a wonderful selection of classic American cars on display at The Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A. and today I have a few more to share, including some vintage motorcycles.
Otis Chandler Motorcycle Gallery at Petersen Museum
Otis Chandler Motorcycle Gallery
Otis Chandler Motorbike Gallery
Otis Chandler Motorcycle Gallery
Aside from the famous cars from Hollywood movies, on the second floor of the museum you'll also find the Otis Chandler Gallery of historic motorbikes, including this amazingly surreal contemporary Skeleton Bike by John Holt.

2006 Skeleton Bike
2006 Skeleton Bike head
The Skeleton Bike was handmade from sheet metal and aluminum by metal artisan John Holt, who designed suits of armour before embarking on this spectacular project.
2006 Skeleton Bike front view
The bones are built to scale and would stand 9' 2" tall if erect. The giant skull holds a headlight in each eye socket, the tombstone on the front holds hydraulic fluid that flows through tubes in the removable spine and front suspension is integrated into the arms and hands of the skeleton frame.
Skeleton Bike 2006 at Petersen Auto Museum
The motorcycle is powered by a 4-cylinder, 2.3-liter Ford engine with variable speed hydrostatic transmission.
John Holt 2006 Skeleton Bike
Ultimately though, it's just a fantastically cool and freaky looking machine.

If you are a motorbike lover, downstairs near the reception area you'll also find two Indian bikes that were owned by Steve McQueen when he was alive.

1912 Indian motorcycle
Steve McQueen's 1912 Indian motorycle
First offered for sale in 1902, a year before Harley-Davidson, Indian motorcycles quickly earned an excellent reputation for quality and innovation. The bikes produced during their tenth anniversary retained the company's well-proven, one-cylinder engine and were equipped with chain drive, an advanced feature during a time when the large majority of motorcycles were fitted with a belt drive.

You'll probably also want to check out the Can-Am Spyder Roadster used in the summer blockbuster movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

In addition to all these marvelous motorbikes there are other quirky transports on display, like the collection of vehicles in the 'What were they thinking display?'

Fascination car at Petersen Museum
The Fascination was the brainchild of Paul M. Lewis, who in 1963 formed the Highway Aircraft Corporation in Lakewood, Colorado with the intention of producing a futuristic, 130 mile-per-hour vehicle.

Originally propeller-driven, the Volkswagen-powered prototype was reconfigured to be wheel-drive following a serious prop malfunction. This Fascination is the second of three pilot production cars built before the factory closed.

Helicron Car at Petersen Auto Museum
Resembling a grounded airplane, the French Helicron was propeller driven and built of sturdy wood planks to be light weight and rigid. With rear wheel steering, but no front suspension, the Helicron was impractical for a number of reasons.

There was the danger it posed to oncoming pedestrians from the spinning prop, it was noisy from the exposed engine and extremely drafty because of the propellor.

Studebaker-Packard 'Astral'
Studebaker-Packard Astral futuristic vehicle
This full-size mock-up was a glimpse at what an atomic-powered vehicle might look like in the future if the technology existed to build it. Intended to have a gyroscopic balancing mechanism enabling it to rest on just one wheel, it would also be able to hover over land or water and be protected by a 'curtain of energy' to make collisions impossible.
Studebacker-Packard Astral vehicle at Petersen Museum
Funnily enough a nuclear powered prototype of the 'Astral' was never manufactured.

Next we go from futuristic looking transports to slightly more practical, but no less exciting, sporty race cars.

1959 Ol' Yaller Mark III
1959 Ol Yaller Mark III car
Ol' Yaller Mark III was the third in a series of ten racecars built by Southern California hot rod legend, Max Balchowsky, in his garage on Hollywood Boulevard.
1959 Ol Yaller car

1998 Gurney Eagle
1998 Gurney Eagle racing car
Dan Gurney is one of the few people in motorsports to have been both a successful racing driver and racecar builder. As a driver he was the first to secure wins in all four major motorsports categories: Grand Prix, Indy Car, NASCAR and Sports Car.
1998 Gurney Eagle race car
Beginning in 1964 he constructed a series of 'Eagle' racing cars. This specimen was driven by Alex Barron in 1998 and later by Robby Gordon in 1999.

Alongside cars built for speed you'll also find classic cars built for elegance and style.

1928 Hudson Victoria
1928 Hudson Victoria car
Although too expensive to produce in large quantities, Pasadena based coachbuilder Walter M. Murphy's Hudson cars, were among the first to be styled by an L.A. area designer and built in a major Detroit manufacturer.

1939 Packard Super Eight Phaeton
1939 Packard at The Petersen Auto Museum
This dignified Packard was believed to be the last vehicle in which Evita Peron, the First Lady of Argentina, ever rode, with her husband President Juan Peron. One of the most highly regarded American cars of the pre-war era and cost $10,000.
1939 Packard car at Petersen Museum
Originally painted a dark colour and fitted with right-hand drive, the car was repainted yellow and the steering position changed during a renovation in the 1970's.

2009 Honda FC Sport
2009 FC Sport Honda car
From refined elegance to a more futuristic style, the Honda FC Sport was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2008.

1949 Delahaye Type 178 Drophead Coupe
Elton John's former 1949 Delahaye car
Finally to round out my visit the The Petersen Automotive Museum, it has to be an absolutely fabulous car.
Elton John's former 1949 Delahaye drophead coupe
Regarded as one of the most sophisticated European automobiles of the immediate post-war era, this striking Delahaye was formerly owned by international music artist Elton John.

There are many more vehicles on display at the museum than I've featured here, so if you're ever in L.A. and stuck for something to do pop along, as I was pleasantly surprised by my visit.

Hmm, I wonder if I could borrow one of their cars to cruise along the coast...

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