The Petersen Vault

It is instructive to visit the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles as we did 2 weeks ago. While at the Petersen, you basically have 2 choices: You can see its current shows like Hypercars and Bond in Motion and you can tour the Vault, but you can’t do both on a single entry ticket. We chose to buy a separate ticket to visit The Vault. It was quite fun despite its no photography stance. While in the Vault, I had to be careful to avoid stepping in front of others guests because so many of them were taking pictures of what they saw with their cell phones despite the photo ban. It will be interesting to see what happens to car museums when the internal combustion engine no longer propels most vehicles.

The Petersen promises 120 years of cars, but most of the vehicles I saw were powered by internal combustion engines. Petersen’s space is given to 3 types of exhibits: artistry, industry, and history. It delivers thrills in each area. The Vault supposedly contains the bulk of its basic collection with 250 vehicles. The temporary exhibits may or may not contain vehicles from the Vault, but there is no way now to see the Petersen’s collection without paying an extra entry fee of 25 dollars plus $35 more if you want a docent guided tour of what’s in the vault after 3 pm. This seems both appropriate and wrong at the same time. I have to pay $60 dollars more to see what’s in The Vault and then get more info about its contents. Otherwise, I can only see the current exhibits that may or may not offer a look at what’s in The Vault. There is no exhibit of the Petersen Collection of cars by themselves. This has apparently been true since 2015 and a museum renovation.

I liked what I saw in The Vault and was told upon entry that only 2 vehicles from around the world have never left it. The Vault’s contents was haphazardly numbered, but not all of the vehicles were explained. I really liked seeing the birth of an icon, the 1964 Porsche 911 that debuted at a Frankfurt Auto Show in 1963. I loved the 1963 Avanti styled in Palm Springs, CA in 1962. I liked seeing the Italia, a vehicle that Carroll Shelby helped to design. Only 3 were made. It had a European sports car look with American spirit. I loved seeing the 5th Dodge Viper from 1989 and the Ford concept cars. However, my favorite overall car was the Honda N600 that was developed exclusively for the American Market and was first imported to the US via LA. It looked sturdy and reliable with a promising future in this new market. It had that must-buy mystique already. It seriously reminded my of the Riga Kremlin Collection that I saw years ago and loved.

My favorite car in The Vault reminded me of Riga. It was Nikita Khrushchev’s 1962 Gaz that took me back to Riga mentally and the car museum there featuring the Kremlin Collection. The Gaz was among the political cars in the Petersen’s impressive collection. I was able to instantly recognize the Popemobile, one of the 2 vehicles that has never left The Vault.

However, I got Saddam Hussein’s black Mercedes wrong because it was not properly identified. I also would have appreciated knowing more about the Presidential Lincoln that Presidents Eisenhower and beyond used and the Imelda Marcos Mercedes that was on view.


About roads-rus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roads-rus

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