Los Angeles Car Museums and Attractions for Auto Buffs

It's hard to survive in Los Angeles without a car, but for some, the auto is more than just a form of transportation; it's a wonder of design, a status symbol, a mechanical feat, a canvas for customization, a means of getting the adrenaline pumping or all of the above. LA's car culture is everywhere. Here's a list of attractions and resources that are all about cars and driving.

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Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles

Kayte Deioma

6060 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA
Phone +1 323-930-2277

Petersen Automotive Museum on Museum Row on the Miracle Mile is LA's most popular car museum. Their collection includes a lot of famous movie and TV cars as well as experimental vehicles and cars that represent the history of the development of the automobile. At the end of 2015, they reopened after a major makeover with a shiny new exterior and stunning new exhibits.

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Automobile Driving Museum

Automobile Driving Museum
Klaus Nahr/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo (near LAX) isn't just about the cars. It's also about the famous and not-so-famous drivers who drove the museum's vehicles. On Sundays, guests have the opportunity to go for a ride in one of the classic cars for a trip back in time.
The Automobile Driving Museum also hosts the Hot Rod/Car Craft Magazine Cruise Nights on select Friday and Saturday nights. 

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Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum

Wally Parks NHRA Museum
Courtesy of Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona, CA 91768-1639, USA
Phone +1 909-622-2133

The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is located at the edge of the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona (home of the LA County Fair). The museum celebrates everything to do with motorsports from race cars, hot rods and custom cars to race artifacts, speed records and stories.

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Marconi Automotive Museum

Marconi Automotive Museum
ShanHams/CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons
1302 Industrial Dr, Tustin, CA 92780-6416, USA
Phone +1 714-258-3001

The Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin exhibits historic, exotic, classic and race cars. Their collection includes a large number of Italian sports cars and American muscle cars. The Marconi Automotive Museum is only open on weekdays and is closed on weekends and holidays.

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Irwindale Speedway

Irwindale Speedway
Shinku Hisaki/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0
500 Speedway Dr, Irwindale, CA 91706-1354, USA
Phone +1 626-358-1100

The Irwindale Speedway Event Center in the San Gabriel Valley includes twin paved oval race tracks (1/2 & 1/3 mile) with 6000 capacity seating and a dragstrip. It is also the home of LA Racing Experience, a year-round training program for race drivers. The Speedway also hosts open-air concerts.

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The Nethercutt Museum and Collection

1962 Rolls-Royce and Owner at Nethercutt Museum
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images
15151 Bledsoe St, Sylmar, CA 91342, USA
Phone +1 818-364-6464

The Nethercutt Museum and Collection are two related attractions in Sylmar in the north San Fernando Valley. The Museum, which showcases 130 antique, vintage and classic cars, is open for self-guided exploration. The Collection, which includes 4 floors of antique cars, car memorabilia, antique furniture, clocks, watches, and mechanical musical instruments, can only be visited on a guided tour, available by reservation only. Just outside the Nethercutt Museum is a 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson Locomotive and 1912 Pullman Private Car.​

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Car Shows in LA

Los Angeles Auto Show
David McNew/Getty Images

The Los Angeles area hosts major new car shows like the LA Auto Show at the LA Convention Center and weekly car club meets where 75 hot rods and classic cars show up to a local donut shop. In between are all kinds of car shows from single brand shows to themed shows for Woodies and beach cruisers, race cars or ​high-end luxury autos. 

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Studio Tours

Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Celebration at Universal Studios Hollywood - Day 1
Getty Images for Universal Studi / Getty Images

Some of LA's auto museums own vehicles used in TV and movies, but many famous star cars are still owned by the studios that used them, and they are on display as part of the studio tours. Universal Studios Hollywood has some prop cars out on the theme park lot where you can see them up close, and many more can be seen on the Backlot as part of the tram tour. Warner Bros Studios has a Warner Bros Picture Car Museum that is part of their Studio Tour.

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Exotic and Stock Car Racing & Driving Experiences

Stock Car Racing
Mark Scott/Getty Images

Visitors can sign up for sports car racing or Dragster Driving opportunities in Fontana or an Exotic Car Autocross Experience in Los Angeles. 

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Luxury Car Rental

Aston Martin Db9 Volante
Victor Malafronte/Getty Images

If you don't just want to admire exotic vintage, classic and sports cars in a museum, you can rent a luxury car for your Los Angeles stay. Whether your style is a convertible Auburn Speedster, a Maserati Quattroporte, an Aston Martin Roadster or a 1971 Corvette Stingray, you can find a luxury ride that makes a statement cruising the coast or sitting in LA traffic.

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Driving in Los Angeles

If you are coming from somewhere outside of Los Angeles, whether it is some other part of the US or some other part of the world, and you think you know how to drive, you'll probably stand out as a tourist in LA. Los Angeles has some very particular driving rules and customs. 

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Kart Racing in LA

Kart Racing
Getty Images/Zero Creatives

Los Angeles and surrounding areas have many tracks for indoor and outdoor kart racing for adults and kids. Indoor kart racing uses electric vehicles with up to 10 karts per race. Indoor junior kart racing requires kids to be 48" tall. Li'l Thunder at Speedzone in the City of Industry allows kids 42" and up to race. Go Kart World in Carson has racing for kids age 3 and up.

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A Car Buff's Guide to Los Angeles