Our New Year’s Resolution? See more vintage cars. A predictable resolution for us? Sure. To be honest, we only make fun resolutions.
From time to time on our blog, we’ll feature “Museum Crashes,” where we visit museums with great cars and automotive exhibits. Recently, we visited the Automobile Driving Museum:
Location: 610 Lairport Street, El Segundo, CA 90245
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm (closed Mondays)
Entrance fee: $5 donation per person
Contact: (310) 909-0950
Known for: an incredible collection of Packards, called “Packard Row”
Must See: showroom of precious automobiles features Preston Tucker’s personal Tucker, #30 in the production lot of 51 cars total (all I can say about that is… Be. Still. My. Heart!)
We’ve been to lots of cool car museums, many of which we’ll share with you along the way. But the Automobile Driving Museum quickly stole our hearts and became one of our new favorites for one big reason… YOU CAN RIDE IN THEIR VINTAGE CARS ON SUNDAYS.
Yep, you heard that right. Every Sunday, (weather permitting), from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm, their volunteer museum docents are ready to take you (must be at least 10 years of age) for a spin in a variety of incredible vintage cars. What’s even more exciting is that when you arrive on a sunny Sunday, they’re all lined up at the curb, just waiting for you to jump in and go for a quick ride around town.
On a Sunday, it’s difficult to decide what to do when you arrive. Stay outside, and ride in ALL of the cars, or venture inside to see the well-curated collection of vintage beauties.
Even better, there are docents aplenty to take you on a tour, answer questions (trust me, they know everything about these cars), or simply talk shop. Should you choose to wander around on your own, walking through the warehouse and learning about each vehicle is easy, as each car is outfitted with an info sheet that lists all the pertinent details.
As little ones under 10 can’t enjoy the Sunday rides outside, docents will often open doors to cars in the warehouse (when there’s enough space between cars to do so) for kids and let them sit inside. Seriously – how cool is that? When our docent offered that treat to two little kids on our tour, they both simultaneously gasped in disbelief and stood there, mouths agape. My sentiments exactly. They’ll even open hoods and show you the hidden details that really make these cars unique.
Not to be missed is the delightful “Packard Row” in the center of the museum that features the core of their collection, Packards spanning from 1916 to 1958.
While each gracious volunteer docent is loaded with an innumerable amount of factiods about the cars, from engine specs to mechanical minutiae, some of the most fascinating stories they share are the ownership tales that are a part of each vehicle. The lore surrounding these cars is rich, and many of the vehicles were owned by celebrities, including Howard Hughes, Errol Flynn, and even Eleanor Roosevelt (be sure to stick around for the story on that one – it’s good!).
But for every celebutante car, there’s a gorgeous collection of everyday drivers. As one docent explained to me – a goal of the museum is to feature cars that the general public, in that time period, would have been able to see, out on the streets. While the 1936 Packard Packard Standard 8 Touring Car (which belonged to Joseph Stalin) is certainly a sight to see, it wouldn’t have been a car that many people would have readily seen during that time.
The true beauty in the everyday drivers that are featured is that one of these Sundays, they’ll each get their turn to take you for a ride around the block. As you pass each car in the warehouse, you can tell each is driven – these cars don’t really know what dust is. Each has little signs of use, minor little chips, tire wear… all indicative of the life that is still kickin’ in each of these vehicles.
Can’t get enough of this museum? Neither could we. We were so smitten by it, we visited it two weekends in a row (that, and the fact that you can ride in different vintage cars EVERY weekend…). Later, we’ll be back with Part 2 of this post, where we’ll show you more incredible features in this gem of a museum.