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All about CARS at The Petersen Museum

Petersen Museum

Bugatti’s transcendent masterpiece . . .

Cars as tools

I wasn’t a car lover and and never knew any gear heads. After all, aren’t cars tools not treasures? A mindset can change and last week that’s what The Petersen Museum in Los Angeles did for me.

My life with cars

Most young people look forward to learning to drive but that wasn’t my priority. I walked or took buses. Finally, in my early twenties I borrowed my grandfather’s car to get a license. It wasn’t a smooth introduction: my first two cars were stolen! Friends thought my ’63 Olds with a Corvette conversion was cool ‘though to me it was simply hand-me-down practical and I missed it. Can’t recall what the other car was, a clear indication of how little it mattered.

Next I had a 1972 Datsun 240Z because it was cheap and available. Only later did I learn what it neat car it was. By then I had a baby who’d outgrown her carseat bolted to the rear deck. I traded up to what was now called a Nissan 300ZX; it might have been sexy transportation except for diapers, baby toys and bottles. The now three children couldn’t all ride at once!

So I relented buying sensible transportation for my first brand-new car! The Tudor red Honda Accord hatchback was a workhorse, an appliance, and for the very first time I changed my own oil. Yeah, and then realized it was much cheaper to pay the dealer. This was followed by a string of Volvos and more recently by Suburu Outbacks. See a pattern here?

I’ve had but one accident, serious–the other driver was legally blind–yes, really! And one ticket–for a heavy foot! All things considered my life with cars has been utilitarian–until I collided with knowledge last week and fell in love. Cars can be tools AND works of art!



The Petersen Museum full of powerful, engineering marvels, and oh so beautiful!

The Petersen Automotive Museum holds a collection of 300+ vehicles that illustrate the history of cars alongside the many ways in which they mold our culture and introduce cutting edge technology. As if that isn’t enough, the best of them are rolling works of sculpture too. Powerful, engineered to excellence, transcendentally beautiful works of art under jewel lights!

The 100,000 square feet of exhibition space at the Petersen Museum is ever-changing, telling new stories in unique ways. On any day you may not find what was there the day before, having been returned to the vault and replaced with another car treasure. The Petersen collects, preserves, and educates. They made me a convert and, wherever you are on the car spectrum, go visit for yourself for the surprise of it and the sheer beauty.

  • Richard Engel - I was a “gearhead” and my dad, being a mechanic was a guy that worked on SOME of those cars. So I grew up in that culture. Some of those are works of art, truly. Really nice photos Sharyn. I would love to see the full size shot of some of them sometime. Art Deco vehicles. What a concept. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Light Pixie - I’d heard about gear heads but had no idea how extensive the skill and tools needed to chop and join, mix and match into such fantastic cars. I have shots of Billy Gibbon’s (ZZ Top) midnight purple Eliminator and others but had to draw the line somewhere! The shooting conditions were tough; no tripod that day but a pretty fast lens so some worked out, others didn’t. Got lots of breath-hold practice! Do you have photos of your work?ReplyCancel

      • Richard Engel - I was using an old “point n shoot” I used to have. This was back in 2001 I believe. So, not great photos. I’ll look through them and IF I find something I’m totally ashamed of, I’ll put them in the dropbox and let you know. That same trip we also visited the Pensacola Air Station and Air Museum and I took some things there too. We’ll see.
        The “Eliminator” is at that museum???? Wow that is one of the most famous hot rods ever. It was in all of their videos I believe. Very cool!ReplyCancel

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