Petersen Museum opens revamped vaults for new tour

The celebrated Petersen Museum has opened up their secret vault for a new tour. We get a sneak peak at what's on display

What may have already been the world’s coolest garage at the famous Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles has been expanded, polished up and reinvented as a standalone exhibit space.

As part of a decade-long partnership with classic car insurance specialist Hagerty, the newly enlarged and renovated vault – housing some of the world’s most compelling sports cars, collector cars, race cars, motorcycles and Hollywood movie and TV cars on public display – will allow visitors to experience global car culture with more than 250 iconic vehicles from the past 120 years grouped by country.

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Entitled 'The World Tour Vault presented by Hagerty', the overhauled tour showcases more than 250 vehicles within 63,000 square feet of display space. There are now three docent-led tour experiences:

  • 75-minute tour
  • 120-minute tour
  • Tour of the Legends

The previous vault space was always of great interest, even if the automotive exhibits weren't offered in any particular fashion. Primarily used purely for storage of permanent collection owned vehicles not currently on display, the department wasn’t open to museum visitors; in order to see its treasures you had to know somebody on the staff or board.

When the Petersen Museum was comprehensively remodelled in 2014-15, a tour of the vault was added to the admissions menu. Even then, the guided tour wasn’t all encompassing, and only covered a portion of the vast underground garage.

However, with support from Hagerty, the space has been spruced up and greatly improved, but don’t worry, the establishment hasn't lost its mantra. There’s no velvet ropes or stanchions—it’s still a garage for the enthusiast.

The remodel is mild, including fresh paint, cleaned floors and tuned up lighting. You can get up close and personal with the cars – still no touching, but you’re so close you can practically smell them!

'As the world’s preeminent automotive museum, we constantly strive to educate our guests about automotive history, technology and design and how it has impacted both local and global culture,' said Petersen Automotive Museum executive director Terry L Karges. 'The Vault presented by Hagerty will offer the pubic an opportunity to now select their tour experience and see compelling new content that has never been displayed before at the Petersen.'

Check out these singular legends -- including the two-time Le Mans-winning 1966 “Gulf” Ford GT40, a 2018 Heritage Ford GT, a 1929 Bugatti Type 46, Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS, a 2015 McLaren P1, a 1947 Cisitalia, several Delages and Delahayes, IndyCar and F1 machines, and much more.

'Car fans are going to be blown away by the vault tour,' said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. 'Most people haven’t had the opportunity to see a lot of these icons up close before, so we’re thrilled to give them that chance. Cars this special should be seen by everybody.'

Since its reopening in 2015, the Petersen has housed more than 120 years of automotive history in the vault, representing the only museum of its kind to offer a “behind the scenes” look of this size. The real payoff now is that the expanded tour will present more than 100 new cars and 40,000 square feet of additional display space, nearly tripling the size of the original vault.

Find out more on the Petersen Museum website.

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