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5 Car Museums Definitely Worth the Drive

Updated September 28, 2013

Whilst it is true that many of the greatest car collections lie in private hands there are some fantastic car museums that are open to the public all over the world. The best museums combine classic cars, fun rides, great design and informative exhibits that bring to life the technical, social and cultural history of the car. Here are five museums that pack in excitement, thrills and some must-see cars.

Petersen Automotive Museum (USA – Los Angeles)

Discover just how old hybrid engines actually are as you admire a 1917 Woods Dual Power sedan.

Housed in a former department store this is a showstopper of a museum that has been impeccably window-dressed. With cars grouped and displayed in ‘sets’ you really get a period feel as you enter a mock-garage containing souped-up and customized 1950’s hot rods. There are plenty of cars from Hollywood stars and even a Batmobile waiting to be fired up. Bikers will certainly not be disappointed by the vintage motorcycles but car lovers can rest assured that this is widely acknowledged to be America’s number one car museum.

Volkswagen Autostadt (Germany – Wolfsburg)

Order a car to be picked up here and watch it roll literally off the production line.

VW’s car city sits next to its futuristic factory and you can take a tour of both. The automotive, entertainment and science complex lets you design your own VW model and has plenty of other interactive exhibits helping you understand the latest advances. The cars on display are mainly German and include the original Beetle which was designed by none other than Ferdinand Porsche. The complex devotes spaces to each VW brand, including Bentley and Lamborghini. In addition there are great kids’ rides and, for the big kids, the chance to tackle an obstacle course of stairs, bumps and hills in a Touareg SUV.

Toyota Mega Web (Japan – Tokyo)

See, ride and feel the future of cars at this cutting-edge showcase from Toyota.

Another museum that gets the balance spot-on between the classic exhibits, the fun and the entertainment lies on the outskirts of Tokyo. Imagine a theme park filled with classic cars and showcase displays of the latest technology and you will have the Toyota Mega Web. You can see the latest Japanese models before they reach Europe or America and take a ride in a driverless computerised car. Motorsports fans can admire at Mario Andretti’s 1977 Ford Lotus Formula One whilst classic street cars such as DeLorean DMC 12s and Eldorado convertibles will catch the undivided attention of others.

Mille Miglia Museum (Italy – Brescia)

Appreciate fine vintage cars in a fine vintage 11th century monastery.

Nowhere evokes the sense of worship than an ancient monastery so it is somehow fitting that this temple to classic Italian cars is housed in one. The collection includes the 1955 Monza Scaglietti and the 1937 Lancia Aprilia amongst many others. There is plenty for Ferrari fans to idolise and some really interesting exhibits about the historic Mille Miglia race. Those visiting in April can observe the annual recreation of this return-trip race from Brescia to Rome by drivers in vintage cars.

Mercedes-Benz Museum (Germany – Stuttgart)

Car Museums

 

Experience 130 years of automotive history in a classically designed space.

Mercedes-Benz can trace its lineage back nearly 130 years to the world’s first internal combustion vehicle, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The museum’s exhibits take you tastefully from the prehistory to the future of the car in an airy space designed like an overlapping cloverleaf. There are classic cars aplenty ranging from the 1921 Mercedes Knight touring car to the 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL.  The futuristic C111 experiment of the 1960’s looks somehow dated next to the iconic swagger of the red 1950s 300SL Gullwing. The exhibition follows a timeline that takes you from Gottlieb Daimler’s 1888 horseless carriage through the history of Mercedes to the present day. What a history, what cars: what a museum!

About the author

Matthew Fidge writes for WLMG which owns a chain of car dealerships in the south of England including one of the finest Kia dealers London offers.

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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