I discovered the Petersen Automotive Museum a couple of years ago when I went to a corporate party that was held there. (Note to corporate party planners: you can’t lose with this location for your next ultra-boring-company-gathering.) And I’ve been keeping it in my hip pocket for the day when friends came to town who would really spin their wheels over this.
That day was today. Jim + Mario are in town, refugees from the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad winter (you may have heard?) in New York. Now, Jim is a car aficionado, Mario not so much. And I’m in the same boat with Mario. We all loved the exhibits at the Petersen – which is a temple built to honor the evolution of the automobile, from the before the Model T to the land yachts of the 40s and 50s, to the DeLorean to the latest concept cars. Plus, fantasy cars such as the Batmobile, Speed Racer’s Mach 5 and novelties like the original Harley CHP bike.
The cartoon above was on a wall behind the first solar-powered vehicle. There is an early French steam-powered car. A gasoline-powered bicycle that looks like an instrument of torture. During the week it is not crowded, but the people who wander the three floors of exhibits become part of the show. Men and women, youngsters and oldsters – there’s something for everyone here. And lots of overheard comments like “Remember that!” and “Will you looka this!”
There are galleries devoted to Hot Wheels cars… to the evolution of the license plate… as you enter the museum there are a series of dioramas that are a little cheesy, but they set the stage for the pre-industrial development of the technologies needed for modern automobiles. Henry Ford didn’t just start churning out production-line cars. A century of invention preceded that.
I didn’t take many photos in the museum, because I sort of forgot to… wandering among dozens of vehicles and signage and vintage advertising is so much fun it keeps you in the moment. And that is the measure of a successful museum. So if you live in Southern California and you haven’t been to the Petersen, it is well worth the trip. Easy to find at the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire (across the street from LACMA), with its own parking garage. You can zip through the permanent collection and the exhibits in as little as an hour, or you could spend the whole day. And if you want to grab lunch before or after the museum, the Miracle Mile food trucks line Wilshire starting a block to the east of the Petersen. And there’s a certain symmetry to that. We perused the collection of cuisines on offer and settled on the Vietnamese sandwiches-on-baguette banh mi from a truck called Banh in the USA. Delish. And this being LA, we had lunch in the middle of shooting an episode of the reality tv show Food Truck Face Off… but our banh mi was much more interesting.
Here are some of the pix I snapped. The Mach 5 race car…
… from one of my favorite childhood cartoons, Speed Racer.
Go! Speed! Go!
A gent and a lady from one of the dioramas as you enter the exhibits,
depicting life in the early days of the horseless carriage…
One of the custom delivery trucks that used to fan out across Los Angeles
each morning with goodies from the Helms Bakeries…
(Looking inside this tin can truck makes you appreciate
every safety innovation of the last 100 years!)
An etiquette lesson for chauffeurs: No waving! No shouting! A silent nod will do…
Was there a kid (boy or girl) in the 60s and 70s who didn’t play with Hot Wheels cars?
This is one of the walls of the scale model cars in the exhibit,
which also has vintage tv commercials playing on monitors.
Takes you back…
Speaking of hot wheels, Mario found the perfect pickup truck
for running errands around his Westchester County estate…
…and I fell in love with this 2014 Jaguar Roadster. It’s so fast it’s a blur even while parked.
The Petersen museum and Wilshire Blvd food trucks were a great way to play with friends on
Day 080 #100happydays