If you love cars and movies then you really should visit the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. It is the preeminent Hollywood Car Museum, and a fantastic front seat look into film history.
A Hollywood Car Museum Brings auto history front and center
Before you even step inside, the building’s architecture is something to take in. Following a $90 million renovation in 2015, the exterior features a stainless-steel ribbon made of 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel in 308 sections, 25 supports and 140,000 custom stainless-steel screws.
It sets the stage for what’s inside, one of the world’s largest and diverse car galleries, with vehicles that illustrate just what can be when engineering meets art.
Below are examples of famous movie cars on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum. You’ll notice we included more than a few from the 1960s because they’re just so darn good looking.
1957 “Ford Vs Ferrari” 625/250 Ferrari Testa Rosa
Following a worldwide search, Bruce Meyer tracked down the rare Ferrari and repatriated it to the U.S.. There is it reunited with its original V-12 engine during restoration.
It shares the screen with Matt Damon and Christian Bale the 2016 film “Ford v Ferrari.”
See it for yourself on the second floor.
One of the most successful privately campaigned Ferraris ever raced, this Testa Rossa is one of only two ever built by the factory with a Tipo 625 Grand Prix racing engine, according to the Hollywood car museum. Specially ordered by West Coast Ferrari distributor John von Neumann for racing, the Ferrari was driven to 11 wins during the 1957 season.
1963 Volkswagen Beetle “Herbie”
This Herbie is one of several Beetles built for Walt Disney Pictures’ “Herbie: Fully Loaded.” The 1969 film is responsible for the VW’s endearing nickname, “The Love Bug.”
Herbie is equipped with a 200 horsepower engine that can propel it to a remarkable 138 miles per hour, and was the car driven by Lindsay Lohan as Maggie Peyton in the racing sequences. Like previous Herbies, “this Volkswagen has been endowed with thought, emotion, and a strong will, qualities that the main characters find useful in their quest for love and adventure,” according to the museum’s description of the car.
Find it in “The Vault.”
1964 Chevrolet Impala Gypsy Rose
The Gypsy Rose first received national attention in 1974, when it was shown cruising Whittier Boulevard in the opening credits of “Chico and the Man,” a TV sitcom starring the late comedian Freddie Prinze.
Rebuilt after an accident, th Gypsy Rose is adorned with roughly 150 hand-painted roses, and the interior features pink crushed velvet upholstery, chandeliers, and a cocktail bar.
In April 2017, Gypsy Rose was inducted into the Historic Vehicle Association’s National Historic Vehicle Register.
Pay her a visit in “The Vault.”
1966 Chrysler Imperial Black Beauty from Green Hornet
Legendary Hollywood car customizer Dean Jeffries built this Black Beauty in four weeks, according to the Hollywood Car Museum. It was the main on-screen car for the original “Green Hornet” TV series in the late 1960s.
Starring Bruce Lee and Van Williams, The Green Hornet hit American TV screens in 1966. The crime-fighting team drove Black Beauty throughout the series and relied on its many superhero abilities, including a rotating license plate, front-mounted “rockets” and “night vision” headlights.
Black Beauty could also create a smoke screen or spread tacks on the road to puncture the tires of pursuing vehicles. In addition, an embedded television camera allowed the driver to see many miles ahead. In the rear, twin brooms sweeps up the tire imprints to cover its tracks.
See it in “The Vault.”
1981 “Back to the Future” DeLorean
Thanks to the Back to the Future trilogy, the DeLorean is now one of Hollywood’s favorite cars. In the film, Dr. Emmett L. Brown, known as “Doc,” says the DeLorean provides a perfect base for a time machine due to its stainless steel construction. The metal allows for greater “flux dispersal.”
Subsequently, Brown implements a “Wilson Hover Conversion” in 2015. This enables the Delorean to run on household garbage instead of uranium.
Director Robert Zemeckis and Robert Gale wrote the DeLorean into the script cast, in part, because the car’s gullwing doors made it look like an alien spaceship. Over the course of the two sequels, the Time Machine eventually emerged as a character of its own, undergoing progressive transformation as a result of its time travel experiences.
See it as part of the museum’s “Hollywood Dream Machines” exhibit.
1987 Autobot Bumblebee
The 1984 Transformers cartoon and Marvel Comics series tells the story of Bumblebee. Fighting for the Autobot resistance on Cybertron, scout B-127 (also known as Bee and later Bumblebee) travels to Earth to gather help for the Autobot resistance.
Bumblebee originally appeared in the 1984 Transformers cartoon and Marvel Comics series. In homage, the 2018 movie Bumblebee is a 1980s VW Bug and shows the title character in his original form.
Find it in the “Artistry” wing of the first floor.
Almost 20 feet in length, the Batmobile was based on the platform of a 1967 Chevrolet Impala found in London. A 327-cubic-inch V-8 Chevrolet engine mounted low in the frame powers the Impala. The hood-mounted intake features Rolls-Royce jet engine components. In addition, the turbine blades in the nosepiece are from a British Harrier fighter jet.
This Batmobile is one of five original versions.
Pay it a visit on the museum’s third floor.
2015 Lightning McQueen
This is a favorite of young car enthusiasts. The iconic main character from Pixar’s Cars, Lightning McQueen is part athlete, part stock car. Owen Wilson voices in the film, which got its namesake after the late Pixar animator Glen McQueen, who died in 2002.
Cars Director John Lasseter claims the Corvette C6 and Ford GT40 inspired McQueen’s shape.
Find it on the museum’s second floor.
Sean O'Donnell is an influencer and entrepreneur who resides in Los Angeles. Sean has appeared in various movies and television shows on networks such as ABC, Hulu, and Nickelodeon. He has brought his social media expertise to help some of the largest brands in the world including Dolce & Gabana, Ernst & Young, HP, Paramount, and more.