In 1981 and 1982, former Pontiac executive John DeLorean built a stylish, upscale sports car that retailed for $26,175. Although a major selling point was the car’s low-maintenance stainless steel finish, three were painted for experimental purposes and three were gold-plated. Built in 1981, the 24-karat gold-plated cars were created for an American Express promotion and listed in their Christmas catalog for $85,000. This DeLorean was displayed in the lobby of a Texas bank from the time it was purchased in 1981 until it was donated to the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2003. It has traveled a mere 7.4 miles since new and remains in entirely original condition.
The exotic “Round Door” Rolls-Royce was delivered new in 1925 with a Hooper Cabriolet body to its first owner, a Mrs. Hugh Dillman of Detroit. It appears never to have left England and was re-sold when still virtually new to the Raja of Nanpara. In about 1934 a subsequent owner sent the car to Jonckheere of Belgium to be fitted with fashionably aerodynamic coachwork complete with twin sunroofs, round doors, a large fin, and a sloping radiator shell. Once thought to have been owned by the Duke of Windsor, the concours-winning car then passed through the hands of several other owners before being discovered in New Jersey in the early-1950s in near derelict condition. Max Obie later acquired the unusual Rolls-Royce, had it painted gold, and charged curious individuals one dollar to enter a special enclosure to look at the car. The Phantom I then spent time on the East Coast of the United States and in Japan before coming into the possession of the Petersen Automotive Museum in the spring of 2001.
Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Prince of Persia and future Shah of Iran, received this striking supercharged Bugatti as a gift from the French government on the occasion of his first wedding. The dramatic body was constructed by Vanvooren of Paris in the style of Figoni & Falaschi, one of the most progressive coachbuilders of the day. Advanced features include fully skirted fenders, a top that conceals beneath a metal panel when down, and a windshield that can be lowered into the cowl by means of a hand crank mounted under the dashboard. In 1959 the Bugatti was sold out of the Shah’s Imperial Garage for a sum equivalent to approximately 275 U.S. dollars. It was subsequently owned by a succession of Bugatti enthusiasts, but never publicly shown until after receiving a complete restoration in 1983.
Named after Pierre Veyron, a noted Bugatti racecar driver of the 1920s and 1930s, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is designed to capture the spirit and romance of the cars built by leading French automotive engineer Ettore Bugatti prior to World War II. Priced at a staggering $1,260,000, it is equipped with a 1,001-horsepower W-16 engine fitted with four turbochargers. The car can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 253 miles per hour, making it the fastest production car of all time. Its low stance, aggressive look, and advanced specifications make it the most exotic car ever to be placed on the world market.
The 1904/05 FN was the world’s first mass produced four-cylinder motorcycle. It featured shaft drive and Bosch magneto ignition, but had no clutch or gearbox. Like most motorcycles of the day pedaling was required to start the 362cc engine, which had automatic overhead inlet valves and mechanically actuated side exhaust valves. The innovative bike was built by the Belgian company La Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (later shortened to Fabrique Nationale or “FN”), a munitions manufacturer that began producing motorcycles in 1900.
The Ross Page Special was one of the few newly designed and built cars to race in the first Indy 500 after World War II. Manufactured by Frank Kurtis, it features a rear faring made of Plexiglas, a novelty for the day. The special is powered by a 183 cubic-inch Offenhauser engine for which former Miller engineer Leon Duray designed a large Roots-type supercharger. The car raced unsuccessfully in 1946, 1947, and 1948 then was withdrawn from Indy competition. The donor later acquired the car, restored it, and briefly campaigned it in vintage events before donating it to the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Collections & Archives
The Petersen Automotive Museum collects a wide variety of motorized vehicles in addition to complementary objects such as parts, accessories, tools, published materials, photographs, fine art, petroliana, toys, shop equipment, and other artifacts. Everything accepted into our permanent collection supports our mission to explore and present the history of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture using Los Angeles as the prime example.
We offer varied, interdisciplinary educational programs that integrate the study of history, art, culture, science, and technology for people of all ages and interests.