The Petersen Automotive Museum opened in 1994. Its founder was magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen and is now owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation.

The facility is located in the city of Los Angeles on the famed ‘Miracle Mile’ which is also the home of the LA County Museum of Art, La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Craft and Folk Art Museum and Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

The museum has over 100-vehicles displayed on three different levels. The first floor is dedicated to the Artistry of the Automobile. The next level up, the Industry Floor, focuses on motorsports, high-performance cars, motorcycles and special exhibits. The top floor, History, showcases the impact of the car on Southern California.

The foundation’s mission statement is ‘To explore and present the history of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture using Los Angeles as a prime example.’

This is a Mercedes-Benz W196 that was introduced in 1954 when Mercedes returned to Grand Prix racing. The sleek body was developed using a wind tunnel and sits on a tube frame chassis. The W196 is powered by an inline eight-cylinder fuel injected engine. This model won nine of twelve races between 1954 and 1955 at the hands of Stirling Moss and Juan-Manuel Fangio.
The 1913 Mercer Type 35-J Raceabout is considered one of America’s most significant early race cars. This rear wheel drive Mercer weighs over 2,200-pounds. The car is fitted with a inline four-cylinder engine. The motor produces 56-horsepower at 1,900-rpm. This particular model is believed to be the most original Type 35-J in existence.
The museum also includes an extensive collection of motorcycles. This is a 1922 Brough Superior SS80 Prototype. The Brough Superior motorcycle company was founded in 1919 by George Brough. This particular machine is called ‘Old Bill’ and is equipped with special forks and a JAP twin-cylinder engine. The bike racked up fifty-one victories in a row during the 1922 and 1923 racing seasons.
The Porsche 962 was designed to meet IMSA race regulations. The 956 model which it replaced failed to comply with IMSA rules because the pedal box was ahead of the front axle which compromised driver safety. The 962 is the first Porsche to use a monocoque chassis with ground effects. It is powered by a 2.6-liter DOHC 6-cylinder engine which produces approximately 620-horsepower. This 962 on display is a 1986 model.
Louis Delage worked for Peugeot but left and formed his own company in 1905. Delage was successful and his business expanded rapidly. The Delage on display was restored after being found in a barn in France during the early 90s. The coachbuilder of this 1937 Delage B8-120 Coupe Aerosport was Letourneur et Marchand. The car is powered by a 4,744-c.c. inline eight-cylinder engine and produces 115-horsepower.
One of the many concept cars on display is this 1955 Mercury D-528. The Mercury was an engineering exercise to test advanced concepts in seating, lighting, air conditioning, and front frame design. Although the car was not put into production, it was used in Paramount Pictures 1964 movie ‘The Patsy.’ In the film, the Mercury was called the ‘Beldone.’
In 1965, Chevron Cars Ltd. was founded in England by Derek Bennett. Initially, Bennett designed and constructed smaller formula and sports racing cars. He was building a Formula One Chevron when he died in 1978. This Chevron B36 won the two-liter class and finished eleventh overall at the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This aluminum- bodied sports car is a 1966 Bizzarrini 5300 Spyder S.I. Prototype. The body work on the Prototype was not produced using molds but created manually by craftsmen. Style Italia (S.I.) of Torino, Italy is responsible for development and construction of the car. The Bizzarini is powered by a 327/420-horsepower Chevrolet V8 engine.
On display are many vehicles that appeared in the movies. This 1984 Duesenberg II Model SJ was used in the 2013 film ‘The Great Gatsby.’ It is a replica of an early 1930s Duesenberg and was used because it is less expensive and more dependable that the original vehicle. This particular model is fitted with a modern Ford engine and transmission.
The 1925 Miller Junior Eight is a front wheel drive Indy car that was inspired by 1924 Indianapolis 500 winner, Jimmy Murphy. Murphy felt that a front wheel drive car would outperform a rear wheel drive vehicle on an oily race track. Murphy died in a racing accident before he could put his idea to the test. The car was entered in the 1925 500 and driven by Dave Lewis – exhausted by the cars stiff steering, Bennett Hill finished the race.
Unveiled at the 1951 Paris Auto Salon was this Delahaye Type 235 Cabriolet. Although visually appealing, many prospective buyers balked at the $11,000 price tag as the car employed dated technology. Underneath the Jacques Saoutchik coachwork is an engine and chassis used on the 1930s Type 135MS.
The EV1 electric car was produced by General Motors from 1996 to 1999. 1,117 cars were built and could not be purchased by consumers – only leased. They availability was limited to people residing in Arizona, California and Georgia. The EV1 weighed approximately 3,000-pounds and was powered by a three phase alternating current induction motor that produced 137-horsepower. GM ended production and recalled the cars.
This 1970 Porsche 914/6 GT was prepared to compete in the IMSA series. This Porsche is equipped with a 1,980-c.c. flat-six cylinder engine that produces 265-horsepower. This particular 914 is owned by Bill Koll and finished fifth overall and first in the GTU class at the 1980 24 Hours of Daytona.
The hugely popular and successful Ducati 916 was produced from 1994 to 1998. The 916 designation referred to the displacement of the V-twin, fuel injected, liquid cooled engine. The bike made its mark in the World Superbike Championship. Riders, Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser, captured four titles between 1994 and 1998 on the Ducati.
On exhibition in the Artistry of the Automobile section of the museum is this beautiful 1936 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic. The Type 57C Atlantic was designed by Jean Bugatti the son of the company’s father. The Bugatti on display at the Petersen Museum is the first of only four cars built. The Type 57C Atlantic is revered not only for its styling but also the engineering and materials used in the car’s construction.
The first generation of the Can Am series ran from 1966 to 1974. One of the championships most well-known marques were the McLaren race cars. New Zealander, Bruce McLaren was not only a successful driver but also a talented designer and engineer. The model on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum is a McLaren M8E fitted with M8F bodywork.
Believed to no longer be in existence, this 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne was spotted at an automotive scrap yard in Sterling Heights, Michigan by the son of car collector, Joe Bortz. It took twenty-two years to return the vehicle to its current state. The Biscayne is a concept car that Chevrolet used to showcase their new engine. Styling cues from the Biscayne can be found on the Corvair, Corvette and Riviera.
Another vehicle from the world of entertainment is the Batcycle. The first Batcycle appeared the television series and was a 1965 Harley Davidson with a sidecar. The success of the Batman series spawned a movie which included a new Batcycle. The new motorcycle was built using a 1966 Yamaha Catalina 250.
Included in ‘The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring’ exhibit is this Land Rover. The Land Rover is a 1971 Series III 109 Station Wagon. The vehicle was painted by Haring in 1983 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
German brothers Erwin and Manfred Kremer took Porsche’s 935 models and modified them to create the successful Porsche 935 K3. The first K3 appeared in 1979, winning many races in the German Sportscar Champion. The highlight of the season was a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The model on display is the 1980 K3 that John Fitzpatrick, Brian Redman and Dick Barbour shared to win their class at the 1980 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This Ferrari 250 GT SWB was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. It was intended to be used on the street or in competition. Road-going versions were called Lusso (Italian for luxury) and were powered by a V12 engine which produced 280-horsepower and would reach a top speed of 150-mph.
Located on the second floor in the Motorsports exhibit is a Gulf Oil Porsche 917K. The first 917 was introduced in 1979 and won in its debut at Osterreichring. The long tail on the Porsche made the car unstable at high speeds. As a result, the 917K was built. It was designated ‘K’ as this is an abbreviation for kurz which means short in German. The Porsche 917 became almost unbeatable in endurance events during the early 70s.
This BMW 320 Turbo was campaigned by Jim Busby. The turbocharged BMW was equipped with a four-cylinder 2.0-liter Formula Two engine which produces 650-horsepower. Busby competed in the 1979 IMSA series – his best finish was a second in the GTX category at Road Atlanta.
This unique motorcycle is the brainchild of American race driver and innovator Dan Gurney. It is called the Alligator A-6. The seating position of the bike lowers the center of gravity for improved handling and is a more comfortable position for taller riders. The body of the Alligator uses carbon fiber which is mounted on a chromoly frame. This motorcycle is powered by a single cylinder 710-c.c. Honda motor.
This 1970 BMW Alpina 2002ti is on display in the lobby with several other BMWs. This 2002 competed in the Under 2.5-liter class during the 1970 and 1971 Tran Am seasons. The 2002-c.c. inline four-cylinder engine is fitted with a pair of two-barrel Weber carburetors. In 2004, this car was restored to compete in the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Porsche withdrew from Formula One in 1962 and focused their attention on sports car racing. One of their first successes was the fiberglass-bodied Porsche 904 which they introduced in 1964. Equipped with a 1,966-c.c. flat four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission the lightweight Porsche can reach a top speed of 163-mph.
The design on this 2010 GT2 BMW M3 was created by American artist Jeff Koons. Unlike many art cars, the BMW is covered with a vinyl wrap rather than being hand painted by the artist. The M3 was entered in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans and driven by Andy Priaulx, Dirk Muller and Dirk Werner – it failed to finish.
Also appearing in the Motorsport exhibit is this 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ2. The TZ stands for ‘Tubolare Zagato’ which refers to the tube frame chassis. Sitting on the frame is a fiberglass body by Zagato. The Alfa is powered by a double overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine. The 1570-c.c. motor uses a dry-sump lubrication system and a pair of two-barrel Weber carburetors. It produces approximately 170-horsepower and can reach a top speed of 160-mph.
Another vehicle on display in the lobby is this motorcycle called the Dodge Tomahawk which is named after a military cruise missile. Built in 2003, this bike is fitted with a 500-horsepower V10 motor from a Dodge Viper. Unlike most motorcycles, this bike is equipped with four wheels for stability and traction.
In 1956, Porsche introduced the 356 A which offered some upgrades not found on the original 356. There were five different engines options – starting at 1300-c.c. and increasing in displacement to 1600-c.c. Naturally, the motors offered differed in their performance – the 1300-c.c. motor produced 44-horsepower while the 1500 GS Carrera was rated at 100-horsepower. There were also cosmetic changes which distinguished this edition from the previous model.
Another car located on the first floor in the Artistry of the Automobile exhibit was this 1949 Delahaye Type 157 Drophead Coupe. The coachwork on the vehicle was by Figoni et Falaschi. The Delahaye debuted at the 1949 Paris Auto Salon and was purchased by the Maharaja of Mysore. During a change of ownership, the coupe was converted to a cabriolet and painted red.
The Lancia D24 made its debut at the Nurburgring 1000 in 1953. The tube frame chassis was fitted with a 3.3-liter V6 engine and the car tipped the scales at 1,653-pounds. During the early 50s, the Lancia was raced by some of the era’s finest drivers - Alberto Ascari won the 1954 Mille Miglia, Piero Taruffi was victorious in the 1954 Targa Florio and Juan Manuel Fangio, finished first at the 1953 Carrera Panamericana.

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