Part four in my vacation post series brings us to the Petersen museum in LA, a place which I'm sure needs no introduction.
I did both the guided vault tour and perused the main display. No pictures allowed during the former, which, given how quickly the guide moves from car to car, is honestly the best way to do it. You can't really absorb all the info, look at the car, and take a good pic, all within 30 seconds or so. The experience would feel rushed and incomplete.
My favs from the vault tour were four cars. The first three were the 'dictator limos,' namely Saddam's Grosser Landaulet, Khrushchev's Chaika, and a random Buddhist Lama's Hongqi. The fourth is the round-door coachbuilt Rolls owned by the widow of one of the Dodge brothers. The design is still striking today as it must have been the better part of a century ago.
There are pics and vids of the vault online, but in lieu of my own, here is what I found parked in the lobby:
It's one of the original gold-plated DeLoreans, parked next to the very DeLorean concept car I saw earlier at Pebble Beach!
As for the main display, they suggested I go from the top floor down, so that's what I did.
Most of this floor can be broadly defined as "origins."
The sign next to the Smith Motor Wheel from 1915 below makes it seem like it was made by Cugnot in France in 1769!
The Cugnot was a huge steam-powered vehicle made for the French military to haul stuff horses couldn't. The motor wheel existed to be attached to carts, meaning you could motorize anything that already had wheels.
Even though it's from 1915 and not 1769 as I had originally thought, it's a fascinating item nonetheless.
Another interesting exhibit was this one, containing automotive interior accessories from roughly the fifties. Look at the various car phones or in-car shaving kits and coffee machines. It's rather endearing to see how people looked at dashboard accessories at the time.
Apologies for the shade in the last two pics. The lighting wasn't super optimal for photography.
Concept cars carry another definition of "origins." They had ones from both the modern era and from mid-century!
Perhaps there's no one car that so broadly embodies the "origins" definition like the Tucker 48! It was an extremely early mover for countless technologies, and is probably the biggest "shoulda coulda woulda" of the entire automotive industry, as an adjacent museum curator put it. Easily my favorite car on this floor.
Notice the little manual shifter on the column!
This floor was also where the movie cars were. My two favorites among the ten or so were these, all of which were of course used in filming:
One could define this floor as what cars are capable of. The headliner on this floor was the hypercar display! So many carbon fiber bodies
Quite a few hotrods were nearby.
On the other side was a room full of McLaren race car lineage.
A small section had some outside-the-box definitions of what a vehicle is capable of. My favorite was this invisible motorcycle by a Japanese designer:
"Invisible" doesn't have to mean you can't physically see something...it can also mean you simply don't notice it at all.
Not gonna lie, though, my favorite on this floor wasn't any of that... Nestled in the electric car display was this:
The morning before I visited, I happened to see a post about a children's book they made when they launched the EV1. This car was literally marketed to people as a household pet! No wonder they got so attached to these cars, and no wonder they hated GM so much when they crushed them afterwards.
This particular fluffy, adorable little puppy was the one that got road-tripped from LA to Detroit. The guy's road trip blog is still up, in all its early-90s-Internet glory!
I can't wait to show you this. My favorite display in this entire museum was across almost all of this floor: a display full of actual Bond cars!! Enjoy.
Lastly, a small part of this floor had the various Mercedes-Benzes that Andy Warhol featured in his paintings.
That about covers my time at the Petersen. More vacation content to come.