The Petersen Automotive Museum is celebrating classic Japanese performance cars in spectacular fashion, leading with Nissan's road-going Le Mans racer

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is a work of art — literally! Its recent $125 million renovation included a unique exterior facade designed by Architect Kohn Pedersen Fox. There’s a lot to see inside too as the Petersen is one of the world’s largest automotive museums. A new exhibition that celebrates Japanese culture brings together 19 rare Japanese performance cars. One of these cars is none other than the 1 of 1 Nissan R390 GT1 road car.

More great Japanese cars

One-off Nissan R390 GT1 road car stars in Petersen Japanese exhibit

As part of a continued appreciation of Japanese engineering and styling, the Petersen has gathered some of the most unique and iconic cars from the land of the rising sun. On each floor of the museum guests can view cars from every corner of Japanese car culture, from post-war classic models to futuristic prototypes.

The crown jewel of this collection is the one-off Nissan R390 GT1 road car, which is usually displayed at Nissan's heritage museum in Japan, but currently on a US tour after appearing at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion in August. Designed to aid the homologation of its racing counterpart for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this extreme road-legal machine is powered by the same twin-turbocharged V8 engine as the racer.

Being lightweight and possessing 550hp allowed for a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 220mph. Interestingly this car was initially red, but when a few modifications were made to its aerodynamic package, this R390 was re-registered and painted blue.

One-off Nissan R390 GT1 road car stars in Petersen Japanese exhibit

Head to the museum's ‘vault’ and you’ll find a 1997 Toyota Supra Turbo, something of a cult classic amongst enthusiasts and a car appreciated for how easy to tune its turbocharge engine is. The next floor contains several classics, including Honda’s first mass marketed car, the Honda S600 Coupe.

Take the lift to the next level and the space is divided in two to represent ‘The Roots of Monozukuri’ and ‘Fine Tuning’. Here you’ll find key parts of Japan’s performance car history such as the V12 Nissan R382 racer and a very rare Mazda Cosmo Sport 100S. Modifying cars has always been big in this region and the tuner scene is represented by a Mazda RX-3 by DNA Garage and another Supra similar to that of Fast and Furious fame.

Other points of interest dotted through the museum include the Toyota 2000GT Roadster from the James Bond film ‘You Only Live Twice’, a pair of Infiniti concept cars, and the intriguing 1978 Dome Zero.

Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges said: “Our Japanese car collection not only covers the past six decades of Japanese dominance in the domestic market but truly illustrates the artfulness and shrewd attention-to-detail that is characteristic of the Japanese design philosophy.”

If you’re a fan of Japanese performance machinery, this a is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with many fabled models all under one roof.