The Vault at the Petersen Museum: PH Meets


Last Friday's Pic of the Week should have proffered some idea of the calibre of car in The Vault at the Petersen Museum: having any De Tomaso Pantera in a collection would be notable, but the Petersen's is not just any old Pantera; it was once Elvis Presley's Pantera. The one he shot. More than once.

It's a running theme throughout the underground section of the Petersen Museum, which is celebrating its 25th year next year. Any Jaguar XKSS would be incredible; the car here is Steve McQueen's old one. His Hudson Hawk is in there, too. The Rolls-Royce Phantom owned by Fred Astaire has its place, as does Preston Tucker's own Tucker Torpedo. There's the 1939 Bugatti 57C once the property of the Shah of Iran, sold for $275 when the revolution came in 1979. There are cars owned by owned by Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne and more.


But if you care more for the cars than the people who own them, The Vault has stuff for you as well. Arguably the collection's signature car is the Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 aero coupe from 1925; bodied by Jonckheere and known as the 'Round Door Rolls' (for obvious reasons), it's been part of the collection since 2001. And in case you're wondering, it looks even more spectacular close up. More than 90 years ago this 3.5-tonne behemoth was powered by a 7.5-litre straight six making... 108hp. Top speed was in the region of 27mph.

The museum was founded in 1994 by the late Robert E. Petersen; as the founder of Hot Rod magazine, his collection predictably enough features all manner of drag cars, from the classic to the contemporary. The appeal is a little hard to explain to European sensibilities, but the provenance of what's there is again impeccable.


Finally, it's worth noting what is there but not in this gallery (some exhibits are not owned by the museum, and therefore not able to be snapped whoever you are): the first Porsche 911 R ever made, one of three Porsche 356 Superlights, one of two Porsche 916s and the first 911 E modified by Rob Dickinson, he now of Singer fame. There's more that's not Porsche too, including an old Denny Hulme McLaren M8 Can-Am car, a 1947 Ferrari 202 Berlinetta and one of the incredible AAR Eagle MkIII sportscar racers, the model that proved so dominant in the IMSA GTP series of the early 90s.

So whatever your automotive poison, there's something worth seeing down there in the vault. Then there's the whole rest of the museum to explore as well! And while downtown LA is never going to be a small trip from the UK, any petrolhead in California must pay a visit at some point. Preferably a long one...












 




 











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Comments (28) Join the discussion on the forum

  • jzakariya 04 Dec 2018

    What an utterly wonderful place to hang around in.
    Love that blue Roadster with the engine cover off.

  • Truckosaurus 04 Dec 2018

    The article is not wrong in saying the Round Door Rolls looks much more impressive in real life, the size of it doesn't come across in pictures, the grille comes up to chest height. Perhaps the most striking motorcar I've ever seen.

  • jet_noise 04 Dec 2018

    Truckosaurus said:
    The article is not wrong in saying the Round Door Rolls looks much more impressive in real life, the size of it doesn't come across in pictures, the grille comes up to chest height. Perhaps the most striking motorcar I've ever seen.
    Fantastic looking thing, must be capable of the ton...
    ...27mph hehe

  • Greg the Fish 04 Dec 2018

    WOW!

  • Never you mind 04 Dec 2018

    What's the slopey purple thing with the cream interior. Looks bloody awesome.

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