California is a big state, especially if you’re driving from the north or south. But on that long drive, there are 10 car museums that are sure to get your blood pumping. It doesn’t matter if you’re into classic cars, antiques, vintage, racing or other specialty cars, California has something that’s special to and for you.
It’s going to be a long road trip, so grab a drink, some snacks and buckle up for the ride.
Let’s get this road trip kicked off.
Here are the 10 best car and automotive museums in California.
1. San Diego Automotive Museum
The San Diego Automotive Museum is part of a collaboration of collectors that have loaned their cars and vehicles to the organization for display. They have several permanent exhibitions that are continuous, but the cars change as collectors that loan their cars change them out, sell them or for other reasons.
The museum also puts together specialty exhibitions throughout the year to bring you something new each time you visit. It’s like that extra bonus you get when you weren’t expecting one. It’s really nice to get a surprise.
All of the exhibitions are stocked by the general public, collectors, and owners.
This museum also has a full time Harley exhibition and it’s not uncommon to see Indians, lot’s of Indian motorcycles live there.
There’s loads to look at and experience. You can visit their website for more information, exhibitions, specials and other things. We’ve found a video that gives you an idea of what to expect if you are planning a visit.
2. Motodoffo Vintage Collection
Ride, Race or restore. That’s the motto of Motodoffo.
This is likely the most unique auto museum, much less motorcycle museums in the US to date. It’s about making excellent wines and racing motorcycles. Believe it or not, they have their own racetrack, their own winery and it’s all part of one business. Everything is co-branded for both sides of the business.
Born in Temecula, California, The Motodoffo Vintage Collection was two hobbies that ended up gracing their winery’s showroom. It grew from there into what they have now.
If you would like to know more about this fascinating museum and winery, visit their website or watch the video below and get a glimpse of what they are all about.
3. California Automobile Museum
Located in Sacramento, California, this museum has it all. From the old Model T all the way up to the 1970s, this museum has a bit of everything. Some are untouched, some are custom, some are placed as it was when purchased.
There’s a lot of history and some of the displays have stores, desert backgrounds and so fort to show the significance of the vehicles of that era and how California quickly adapted to automobiles.
They have over 150 cars all of the time even though they change some out as they see the need or have the opportunity.
If interested, you can visit their website, and below, you can take a quick video tour to learn more about this incredible museum.
4. Petersen Automotive Museum
Located in Los Angeles, California. Petersen holds well over 250 cars for your viewing pleasure. You can see some cars that were donated or are on loan from top stars, history lessons that will make you smile as you imagine yourself in an old Shelby GT or Model t and everything in between.
They have race cars, motorcycles, racing motorcycles, cruisers, sports cars and much more that span from 1886 to present day. Yes, it’s that complete.
If you think this place might shift your gears, you can visit their website for more information or take a video visit right now.
5. Motte Historical Car Museum
Located in Sun City, California, Motte Historical Car Museum was founded in 1985 and almost all of their 30 or so cars are owned by the founders. Thee is one that they can’t own, abnd it was the first fire truck from Paris, California, and it’s a beauty.
They have cars and trucks from the teen of the early 1900s (1913 – 1919) to the 1980s. I know, 30 or so cars doesn’t sound impressive, but the stories and history behind each one makes them priceless.
It’s almost like a personal collection for an entire family, some of them used to be their personal daily drivers, and some were bought for under 10 bucks by the founders father back in the 1950s and 60s.
We also managed to find a video so you can take a look inside and see what they have below.
6. Marconi Automotive Museum
The Marconi is located in Tustin, California, and houses a 70 plus car collection. They have one of the largest Ferrari collections in the United States of America. That alone is reason enough to visit this museum. But there is a lot more to this museum.
Marconi is all about high performance. Not only will you find a variety of race cars, you’ll also come face to face with some of the most awesome muscle cars on the planet. These cars are not your daily drives or panel wagons of days gone by. There are also quite a few famous cars that were driven by some very famous people.
The history runs deep in this museum. Cars on the floor, cars on the wall. Take the 10 minute tour in the video below and you’ll understand the statement. If you would like to visit, take a look at their website and get started. It’s worth the effort.
7. Mullin Automotive Museum
Located in Oxnard, California, this museum is so unique that makes me shiver with excitement. To get the point across, they have cars that are so rare that they’ve paid in excess of 30 million dollars for one car. I’m not sure if it’s the only one of that price, but would not be arrogant enough to suggest that all of the other cars were much cheaper or any single car there would not cost more..
They have a French Collection that is absolutely stunning, and cars so expensive that it’s amazing that they let you get so close to them. It’s almost impossible to fathom having an accident of some kind where you trip, fall into one and put the slightest scratch or dent on one of these cars.
This collection alone houses some of the most sleek and beautiful cars I’ve ever had the privilege to gaze upon.
If you’re interested, you can visit their website and/or take a quick video tour below.
8. Automobile Driving Museum
Automobile Driving Museum is located in Oxnard, California. They currently have over 130 cars cover Vintage, Antique and Muscle Cars. They actually have drive events and rent cars also. So if you’re planning a wedding in the area, you can make your wedding or special event something special.
The showrooms and displays are incredible, covering everything from the late 1800s forward up to the classic time frame. Even their muscle cars are based on vintage and antique.
If you’re interested in learning more, visit their website and take a quick video tour.
9. Blackhawk Museum
The Blackhawk Museum, located in Blackhawk, California is something special.
To see these cars in person is going to be an experience like you’ve never seen before. With some of the most rare and exquisite, you’ll be hard pressed to top your visit to the extraordinary collection of such automotive masterpieces.
With cars such as the 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III “Copper Kettle”, and 1965 Mustang 2 Dr. Coup, you start to get the feeling your are walking through some kind of time continuum.
The beauty, the glimmer of the lights on the magnificent paint jobs, and detail in chrome work to the fine leather seating of days gone by. It’s an experience that will last a lifetime.
Is your blood pressure rising yet? If not, watch the video below and get a taste of incredible, then visit their website and schedule a visit.
10. Mike Malamut Vintage Car Museum
This museum is the personal collection of Mike Malamut, who started collecting cars before he was an adult, but knew early on that he was a car guy. Since then, he’s put together a pretty unique collection.
Here’s a short list of some of the origins of some of his collection.
- Campers and Trailers
For a personal collection, this is the most diverse I’ve seen in a long time.
If you would like to learn more about this museum, visit their website. We’ve also found you a video where you can see some of the cars and learn more about this museum in the video below.
As we can clearly see, California has a large number of not only unique museums for cars and more, but they have some of the most incredibly beautiful and expensive cars in the world.
Don’t forget, some of these museums are made up of private collections and some of these vehicles are for sale. If you’re a collector and wander into one of these places, make sure you have your checkbook and transport company on standby, because you’re likely to find something you can’t do without.
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