It should go without saying that any gearhead visiting the Los Angeles area absolutely needs to make time for a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum. Located in a former Ohrbach’s (and before that Seibu) department store on the southeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax on the Miracle Mile, this incredible, immersive museum – which traces the automobile and its impact on Southern California from the tail end of the 19th century to today – has been educating and entertaining since its founding by magazine magnate Robert E. “Pete” Petersen and his wife Margie (both now deceased) on June 11, 1994. And you’re pretty much guaranteed to see something different every time you go.
The museum is able to change up the exhibits fairly frequently thanks to a basement (the former underground parking garage of the department store) stocked to the brim with an incredible variety of cars and trucks, from hopped-up Toyotas to prewar Bugattis. The basement, or “the Vault” as the museum calls it, has been strictly employees only (and the occasional VIP or party) pretty much since day one. However, since this past Holiday Season, the museum has been offering extra-cost guided tours of the Vault to ordinary peons like us. MotorTrend YouTube channel host Jessi Lang tags along with museum curator Leslie Kendall for a walk through this garden of automotive delights for her bi-weekly show, “The J-Turn.” What are you waiting for? Find a way to get to the Petersen!