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.
Petersen Automotive Museum
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exotic and Stock Car Racing & Driving Experiences
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.
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.
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.