Petersen Museum celebrates Hollywood’s favorite cars

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Brandan Gillogly

If you’re a regular of the Petersen Automotive Museum, and if you live within a 100-mile radius of this L.A. auto history haven, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the museum’s newest third-floor exhibit of TV and movie cars was just leftovers from its prior Hollywood Dream Machines exhibit. (The one that headlined the museum before Bond in Motion took over.) You’d be wrong, however. We recently visited the Petersen and headed to the top floor for the first time in a few months to discover that the Omaze Hollywood Gallery boasts a cast that’s almost entirely new.

The Petersen Museum’s proximity to some of the nation’s largest production studios in Hollywood give it a unique opportunity to house some interesting pieces, allowing the Hollywood Gallery to celebrate the vehicles that are the stars of some of our favorite movies and television shows.

Two big stars from the Hollywood Dream Machines exhibit have made a return, but that’s fine by us; after all, they’re two of the most iconic vehicles in all of film.

Brandan Gillogly

This 1981 DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future was the first of three cars built for the film. It was on display at Universal Studios Hollywood for 25 years before it was lovingly restored and unveiled at the Petersen. It has functioning lights, a dizzying array of wires, hoses, fasteners, and other greebles that lend credence to it being hand-crafted by Doc Brown.

Brandan Gillogly

For many fans of the caped crusader, the 1989 version of his car, as driven by Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, is the Batmobile. The jet-powered, finned creation is based on a Chevrolet Impala chassis and is powered by a small-block Chevy V-8. You can get up close and take in the details, like the surplus turbine intakes and the interesting windshield wipers that run along curved tracks.

Brandan Gillogly

One of our favorite new additions to the museum is the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Besides being based on one of the coolest ambulances ever made, the 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex, the ghost-busting paraphernalia festooned all over this car are amazing on their own and will give you a new appreciation for prop builders.

Brandan Gillogly

Fans of Supernatural will immediately recognize “Baby” a four-door 1967 Impala hardtop that played a key role in the long-running series and virtually took on a life of its own.

Brandan Gillogly

This 1948 Packard Station Sedan, known appropriately as “Woody”, went through all sorts of cosmic horrors in the HBO series Lovecraft Country. Aside from being a co-star in the show, it’s a unique machine in its own right and a rare sight.

The new Hollywood cars exhibit is just one part of the ever-changing Petersen Automotive Museum. We stop by monthly to see what is new and manage to learn something every time. If you’re in the Los Angeles area and have a few spare hours to visit, we can’t recommend it enough. Visit the museum for advance tickets.

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