The Petersen Re-Opening

Corvette_11The start of the auto show season is upon us.
The LA Auto Show was last week.
It sure was fun…
But I’m glad it’s over.
When I got home I got an email asking if I was going to the reopening of The Petersen.
What’s The Petersen you ask?
It’s a car museum started by Robert E. Petersen…
(The guy who started Hot Rod Magazine, Car Craft, Rod & Custom and Motor Trend magazines)
The Petersen just got done with a remodel that’s taken a little over a year to complete.
I had planned to go to what I thought was the grand opening on Sunday… But an invite to media day the Thursday before the grand opening?!?
Giddy up!!!
Driving up to The Petersen you can see the outside is completely covered in huge metal swirls.
It’s amazing.
The Petersen sits in the center of Museum Row…
In the heart of Los Angeles…
The Car Capitol of the World.
And now it looks fast standing still just like the cars inside.
I parked the 55 and head to the lobby where I’m greeted by an imposing liquid black 1925/34 Rolls Royce Round Door Phantom Aero Coupe that looks like it’s standing guard.
After the press conference I still had to get my credentials.
I got distracted by the Dodge Tomahawk – a motorcycle concept Dodge built around a Viper V10 engine – on my way to get in line.
Thankfully my name was actually on the list.
My credentials consisted of a “My name is:” sticker.
But it got me in.
And that’s all that matters.
I put on my sticker and off I went.
I walked thru the glass doors to an exhibit called “Rolling Sculpture.”
You Bugatti be kidding me!
A 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic…
One of four.
A 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier…
One of five.
Another Bugatti… Convertible.
And a Delahaye.
Another Bugatti…
Another Delahaye…
An Avions Voisin with ostrich skin interior…
And a big, beautiful gold 1937 Delage D-8 120 Aerosport Coupe…
This is some serious rolling sculpture.
And then, around the corner a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car painted by Alexander Calder…
Wow – An honest to goodness rolling work of art.
My head is spinning.
My Pop is the one who gave me the passion for art.
Pop introduced me to Calder at the East Wing of the National Art Gallery in Washington DC.
When I looked up and saw that massive mobile…
I was hooked.
I had to take a sec and text a picture to me Pop.
What impressed me most was that every sculpture had an oil pan underneath.
Then I made my way upstairs – the 2nd floor.
I took the stairs.
And if I’ve got any complaint… it’s the stairs.
They’re just not right.
They’re too small to take one at a time, but too big to take two at a time.
I just couldn’t find a happy medium.
But upon arriving upstairs all was forgiven.
I ran into my friend Kristin Cline who was kind enough to put me on the list for this.
She told me she was heading upstairs for something and that she’d catch up with me later.
I don’t remember a word she said because sitting right behind her was an eye-searing McLaren Orange 1970 M8D Can-Am car with a 525 Chevy big-block and Hilborn injection stacks sticking out behind the drivers seat.
So sick.
Then I noticed a little placard that read: You can drive this car in the Forza video game behind you.
No way!
I drove the mighty McLaren M8D to the win at the Daytona road course!!
Then I had to try the Top Gear test track in the Ariel Atom… in the rain.
What a great idea to have driving simulators in a car museum.
After a few video games it was time to see the real deal.
Next door is a room filled with vintage racing machines like a 1969 Gulf Porsche 917K, a Rothmans Porsche 956, a Lancia and some Formula-1 cars.
In between the race cars and “Precious Metal” I get to take in some two-wheel art.
BMW, Ducati, Indian and Norton all set up on a wavy platform so they look like they’re moving.
The motorcycles were nice, but Precious Metals blew me away!
Dead center is the 2014 Pebble Beach Best of Show winning Silver 1954 Ferrari 375 MM.
To its left is a Silver James Bond Aston Martin DB5.
And to its right is the massive 1933 Dusenberg Model SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan – “20 Grand” – on loan from the Nethercutt Collection.
It. Is. A. Masterpiece.
There’s a McLaren F1,
Bruce Meyers’ 1957 Ferrari 625/250 Testa Rossa,
And a 1959 Corvette XP-87 Stingray Racer on loan courtesy of the GM Heritage Center.
The Stingray Racer is amazing.
It looks like it was dipped in silver.
It’s got a big Speed Racer headrest/safety hump and beautiful chrome side pipes that start just behind the front wheels and come out under a little chrome Stingray badge on the front quarter.
There’s no top.
So when I look inside I can see that there’s some visible wear on the driver’s seat.
I dig it because it looks like the car has been used.
And every car in the room is silver.
Precious Metal… Ah Ha!
Then we go from Precious Metal to Hot Rods.
Around the corner is a low-rider and a AMBR hot-rod both up on racks so you can see the amount of detail/artwork underneath.
And oil pans.
I love the oil-pans.
There’s the 1951 Hirohata Merc from George Barris
Right next to Billy Gibbons’ Cadzilla.
The Doane Spencer Roadster is here too.
The Holy Grail of Hot Rods.
According to Bruce Meyer: “There isn’t a more important hot rod in the world than the Doane Spencer Roadster.”
Then, around another corner is a 1967 Ford GT40 Mark III sitting nose to nose with a 2017 Ford GT prototype.
50 years of Ford GT’s sitting nose to nose – so cool.
I walk up the spiral staircase to the third-floor and I see a green Jag.
It’s Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS…
His favorite car.
They’ve also got McQueens 1927 Indian Big Chief motorcycle on display.
Then there’s a beautiful Maroon car I’ve never heard of.
A 1947 Cisitalia 202 Coupe.
Just beautiful.
I’m distracted from the historical significance of the Cisitalia by Boyd Coddington’s Aluma-Coupe.
I’d seen it and read about it in magazines, but I’d never seen it in person.
And here it was.
No car museum is complete without at least on tri-five Chevy.
And true to form The Peterson had a beautiful 1956 Chevy Bel Air convertible.
Then there’s the Hollywood cars: The Lincoln from “Entourage;” Magnums’ Ferrari, Walter Whites’ Azteck, the 1971 Pantera that Elvis Presley shot twice, some SPECTRE cars and a Batmobile.
Enough of the movie cars – I just spotted a Mercer!
And it looks very similar to Jay Leno’s Mercer.
In fact it looks exactly like Leno’s Mercer – except that Lenos’ is completely restored and this one looks worn out.
And it is a little worn out.
It’s the most original Type 35-J in existence.
The 1955 Chevy Biscayne XP-37 kinda looks like a Bug-Eye Sprite on steroids.
And the Plymouth Explorer with a body by Ghia had very similar paint and look as the Chevy, but aside from that, the two cars are worlds apart.
It’s cool to see them so close to each other so you can compare them.
And another iconic Hot Rod: the 1929 Ford “Niekamp” Roadster.
The first-ever winner of the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster title in 1950.
I make my way back down the awkward spiral stairs and figure I should stop back in and revisit the Silver room just in case I missed something.
And I had missed something…
Bruce Meyer.
Yeah… THAT Bruce Meyer.
I walked over and said hi and that I had met him a few times before at the “Breakfast at The Petersen.”
It’s an event they put on the last Sunday of every month and you never who or what will show up.
He introduced me to the tall guy he was talking to and it turned out he owns all of the race cars in the other room.
Yeah… all of em.
And it’s his McLaren F1 we’re standing in front of.
Like an idiot I don’t remember his name, but I did ask him if he would take a picture of me and Bruce Meyer.
I got the shot, and I was spent.
Time to get outta there and absorb all of this hi-octane goodness.
As I’m leaving, just beyond the big, black round-door Rolls, I notice a Bugatti Veyron sitting in the lobby right up next to the front window. Funny… I walked right past it on my way in and I didn’t even notice it.
A Bugatti Veyron.
Upon further inspection I discover it’s a 2014 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse “KTM Series.”
Its paint took 12-weeks to finish and is made to replicate the cars natural reflective highlights.
Pretty sweet.
I’m not so sure about the orange interior though…
Enough is enough.
Then, in the parking garage on my way to the 55, I see a new BMW i8 to my right and a sinister dark grey 2015 Camaro 1LE to my left.
Yeah… Southern California is the Car Capitol of the World.
I love cars, and a day at The Peterson just added fuel to my fire.
If you like cars, and you’re in SoCal, do yourself a favor and come on down to The Petersen.

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