Petersen Automotive Museum in LA has distinct Motor City feel

The Motor City’s North American International Detroit Auto Show rolls up in September, and Claude Molinari, CEO of Visit Detroit, is ready for the ride.

“Detroit’s auto show is the premier automobility event in the world right now. When you’re talking about electrification, and autonomous vehicles, there is no bigger showplace on the planet,” Molinari told me. “Like the industry itself, the show is transitioning, but it is still a spectacular event. There may be a half-dozen cars debuted.”   

Singer Jennifer Hudson is scheduled to perform at the black-tie charity preview gala. 

Growing up in the Motor City, automotive company executives, including those in Lansing, were more like barons and dukes than VPs and CEOs. Michigan’s car culture is akin to computers in Silicon Valley, winemaking in Sonoma and show business in Hollywood.

L.A.’s Petersen Automotive Museum is a big, bright crimson and chrome-striped building parked at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue like an idling hot rod. 

I discovered during a visit that the Petersen Museum has Michigan connections. Its underground, 250-vehicle “Vault” (extra admission price but worth every penny) is sponsored by Traverse City-based Hagerty, which insures collectable cars. Among the “collectibles” on display is one of the University of Michigan’s experimental, space age, solar-powered cars.

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