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Petersen Automotive Museum Trimming Its Inventory Of Classic Cars

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The famous Petersen Automotive Museum is trimming its inventory of classic cars.

Many of the museum’s fleet of 400 famous vehicles are moving from the Miracle Mile showroom into private hands.

Terry Karges, director of the Petersen Museum, says there is a story behind every vehicle.

Karges proudly shows off Elvis Presley’s Pantera to KCAL9′s Bobby Kaple and explains why many of the famous cars are up for sale.

The Museum (6060 Wilshire Boulevard, 323-930-2277) has long showcased memorable vehicles — the Thunderbird from “Thelma & Louise,” as well as Grease Lightning from the movie “Grease” to name two of the most famous.  They even have a Mercedes owned by Saddam Hussein.

The museum wants to bring in new inventory.  “Those are the cars that we can either replace, or they are non essential,” says Karges.

LA Times blogger and longtime fan of the museum, Paul Whitfield, said he was terrified when he was told the museum was replacing their classic cars with French cars and motorcycles.

“You turn the corner and you see a car that maybe you read about when you were a kid in the 60s, [a car] that was in Motor Trend or Car & Driver. That I would hate to see them lose,” says Whitfield.

Karges insists there is no reason for alarm.  Though there will be a few more motorcycles and French cars the focus will remain the same.

“We are looking at doing a major upgrade from inside and out 0f the museum, transforming the museum. But [we] are not going away from out original mission,” says Karges.

Critics maintain the museum is losing too many of its Hollywood cars. Herbie of “The Love Bug” fame already went up on the auction block. Karges points out that the Shag mobile from the “Austin Powers” series is staying put.

“Hollywood cars would be something that we want to acquire more of,” said Karges.

In fact, Karges — who is in his first year on the job — says this is one of the reasons he opened up the classic cars to the public.

“We are not going to discontinue the LA car culture or the Southern California car culture. We will expand on it,” said Karges.

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