U.S. Auto Museums You Need to Visit
If car shows just aren’t getting it done for you anymore, you need to step up your car culture. Museums offer the chance to get up close to a super rare, incredibly expensive, or historically significant machine that you would never find at your local car show. This summer, make a trip to one of these great automotive museums.
Muscle Car City, Punta Gorda, FL
Muscle City is 100,000 square feet of muscle cars, with over 200 vehicles on display. There’s a retro style diner and gift store, a speed shop where you can buy upgrades for your hotrod, the “Car corral” where you can buy a hotrod, and on top of it all, they host cruises every year, and have room for 700+ cars. Wow.
Mullin Automotive Museum, Oxnard, CA
This rather new museum is actually the private collection of businessman/philanthropist Peter Mullin. While the museum primarily focuses on pre-war French cars, the sheer quality of the collection (and the museum itself) will likely keep the interest of anyone interested in cars, design, or architecture. While it’s only open to the public two days a month, this one is worth the drive, as it is consistently ranked one of the best auto museums anywhere.
Volo Auto Museum, Volo, IL
Volo, not Volvo. This is an eclectic mix of just about anything cool or interesting. In the Hollywood collection, there’s KITT, the Flintstones car, Ghost Rider’s chopper, and Lightning McQueen. Interested yet? Things get seriously weird with the celeb tribute cars. If your pursuits are more serious, they have a dozen Duesenbergs.
Studebaker National Museum, South Bend, IN
Visit the museum dedicated to one of the USA’s most stylish brands, Studebaker. There’s a lot to see, with vehicles ranging from pre-horseless carriage wagons, military vehicles, concept cars, and all the great production vehicles. There’s even some post-merger cars with Packard included in the mix, as well as the wagon that carried President Lincoln on his final ride.
Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI
If you are wanting to see everything from the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile to Igor Sikorsky’s prototype helicopter, head to the birthplace of the For Motor Company. Ford himself was a history buff and collector, so other attractions on display include Thomas Edison’s laboratory, and the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop. This one is on pretty much every “best museum” list for a reason.
The Auto Collections, Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas offers a lot for car enthusiasts to do, covering everything from renting exotics to wringing out a racecar at the speedway. To get out of the heat, head to the National Auto Museum, and walk through for galleries of air conditioned goodness. The 200+ cars vary from a 1892 Panhard & Levassor (one of the first French cars), to an insane steam-powered world record holder.
National Corvette Museum — Bowling Green, KY
Sure, Covettes might not be your thing, but hear me out. This particular model has been in production over 60 years, and its development has mirrored America’s history. Here you can find mid-engine and rotary Corvette prototypes, race cars, concepts, and even the only 1983 Corvette in existence. If you’re still not a fan, the museum is newly refreshed after a sinkhole disaster, with the worst of the heavily damaged cars on display in their deplorable state.
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, Auburn, IN
It doesn’t get classier than the classic era. That is what the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Auto Museum feels too, and they have 120+ cars from the classic era (1925 – 1937). While it mainly serves as a design and technology showcase for these spectacular luxury rides, the museum also displays everything from 19th century cars, to today, if they are unique examples. Everything from the building to the archives is beautifully done, and this museum is a must-see for anyone interested in design or art.
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Lansing, MI
This museum is a collection of the complete lifework of Ransom E Olds, found of Oldsmobile and REO automotive brands. There’s thousands of items of memorabilia, and over 60 cars. You’ll find everything from pre-1900 steam and electric cars, to the REO Speedwagon (yes, like the band), and more modern beauties. This one is a fascinating learning experience.
Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, Philadelphia, PA
Simply one of the best museums anywhere for viewing pedigreed racecars, The Simeone delivers on multiple fronts. There’s over 50 years of racing evolution packed under one roof. You’ll never get bored here, as the website boasts, models displayed are from “Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Mercedes, Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette, Ford and more.” Racecars cover NASCAR, Bonneville, ALMS, rallying, and tons more. Go see this one.
For even more auto museums, search your state for museums, or just a general search of car museums listing every single one in the States, and narrow by area. Google and Wikipedia are great a helping to narrow your search, and provide alternative you didn’t know existed. You will likely find a museum in your local area, and are almost guaranteed a good time.