Petersen Museum for Car Buffs and Others
Even if you’re not an auto aficionado (I’m not), one can surely find an element of oohs and ahs when visiting The Peterson Auto Museum in LA. Hard to miss the building itself: Like a crazy layer cake interspersed with red and metallic icing, the façade is wrapped in a spiraling whirl of metalwork resembling a car grill. Inside, even the stairwell appears as a vortex of chrome.
I was fascinated with the history of former celebrity-owned cars (Steve McQueen’s is there), futurist visions of transport with aircraft-inspired styling, and film vehicles such as the Winged Warrior 1989 Batmobile, Herbie the Love Bug, and the Delorean DMC12 Time Machine driven in “Back to the Future.”
Holy SideCar, Batman! Yes, TV’s 1966 Yamaha YDS-3 BatCycle is here, too. But, most of all, I loved the shiny chrome colors rarely available on current cars: metal lime green, eggplant purple, and orange ice to name a few. Polished to a high sheen, cars new and old glittered and gleamed. Three floors full.
On view are antique machines that weren’t much more than an engine on a plank of wood and four wheels, grand luxury sedans of 20s 30s, and the wonderful excesses of the 50s with magnificent color and elongated tail fins. See tiny cars without any soul built in Japan and copied by Americans.
The history of the auto is unveiled bearing witness to a technologically changed world at a price almost anyone can afford, thanks to Henry Ford’s everyman car. Most clearly present at the museum is America’s love affair with being on the road in a car of choice.