10 World Best Automobile Museums
Humanity fell in love with their cars about a hundred years ago, and still going on strong. The car industry changed the ways we move and the ways we can explore the world around us. When the very first slow horseless automobile clumsily entered the streets – it had a major economic and cultural impact. Some of the best car museums in the world portrait this 100 year old history, showcase the technological advancements, and remind us of the days passed.
Let’s explore 10 best known automotive museums in the world.
1. Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolsburg, Germany
This facility specializes not just in cars; it also covers many aspects of science that made all this possible. The museum is very popular and is an inspiration for some other facilities, like a BMW Welt. Tourists and auto lovers flock to VW Autostadt to submerge themselves in the past. The museum does not have colorful mascots running around, nor does it offer any cheap thrills or crazy gift shop. The creators wanted people to have an experience of not just seeing cars, but create their own models through interactive programs and exhibits.
VW Autostadt focuses on mainly European makes and models. There such rare gems as the first Beetle created by Ferdinand Porsche and 1934 Audi adorned with mother-of-pearl dashboard. The museum is a system of buildings, each devoted to one make. There is Skoda, Lamborghini, and Bentley each has their own building and displays their collection the way they want: Lamborghini shows just one vehicle, some present the entire collection, while others choose to include more than just automobiles.
In addition to expositions, visitors can test drive VW Touager up and down the stairs for maximum thrills.
2. Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California
The museum has about 200 vehicle display and combines their car viewing experience with period details. The collection is grouped by different historical periods. Some cars can be found in and around a garage with fitting mechanic tools, others are displayed in an authentic 1930 Shell gas station.
The museum is in Hollywood, so there definitely are movie sets’ and famous people’s cars. The museum owns the famous 1932 Batmobile, a rare 1983 Rod Stewart’s 400i Ferrari, and plenty others.
The museum also has classic motorcycles area and changes expositions quite often. Everything in the facility is dedicated to auto culture, even the elevator in adorned with antique car pictures.
Peterson museum seeks to educate people and expose them to some lesser known facts. They are keeping up with times and have an entire section dedicated to alternative fuel vehicles. Some visitors get surprised when they see Wood Dual Power sedan from 1917 – it could be Prius’ great-great-great grandfather.
3. Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany
Mercedes museum guides their visitors through a historic timeline. It starts in 18888, with the first horseless carriage and goes on through a cool 120 of ups and downs, technological triumphs and failures, various partnerships and collaborations. Some famous names that figure in the expositions are Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, and Rudolph Diesel.
The most popular tourist attraction is definitely the red 1950s 300SL Gullwing. It is not the most expensive car – 1936 500K Roadster takes that title for $11M, as only 25 of those beauties were ever built, and only 5 currently remain.
The Museum is housed in a futuristic and sleek silver building. Besides already mentioned vehicles, there is a separate section for motorsports creations. Visitors can find the likes of 1956 Juan Manuel Fangio’s Grand Prix winner, Formula 1 Mercedes-McLaren, and even a “Popemobile”.
4. National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Every single Corvette on the road today that is younger than 1981, was produced in Kentucky. This enables visitors not only see the museum, but experience tours of the factory all in one stop.
The museum changes their expositions and displays their vehicles in period surroundings. 1982 Collector’s Edition Hatchback is a very popular attraction, as is a 1953 convertible, parked in front of a barber shop from the same era. The rarest machine is a 1983 Corvette, as it is the only one model ever produced that year.
In addition to historic vehicles, some concept creations are displayed, even if they never had a chance to hit the road.
The museum also has an interactive racing track where visitors can imagine what it would be like to work as s pit stop crew member.
Many people fall in love with Corvettes while visiting this museum and on a spur of the moment buy a brand new automobile and take it home that same day – what an awesome business plan for the makers.
5. Toyota Mega Web in Tokyo, Japan
This museum mega polis has virtually everything for all walks of life: an amusement park, a museum, a showroom, and a science exposition. Visitors form the U.S can marvel at Toyota models made for Europe, learn a great deal about hybrid technology, or test drive a self-driving car while on the premises.
Besides Toyotas, the museum showcases different makes and models from around the world. You can find sports cars, like Mario Andretti’s 1977 Ford Lotus Formula 1 and regular roadsters like a 1981 DeLorean DMC 12 with its unique paint.
In addition to museum material, the facility offers some rare models for sale. Guests can leave the museum on a 1968 Honda Super Club bike or in a famous VW Microbus.
6. Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia, Italy
Mille Miglia is probably the only automotive museum in the world operating in an 11th century monastery building. The spirit is definitely ancient and provides a great backdrop for all those gorgeous Italian vintage cars. Visitors can find 1955 Monza Scaglietti or a 1937 Lancia Aprilia. The latter one is a close cousin of VW Bettle.
There is a separate area devoted just to Ferrari, or as he’s known in Italy – Enzo.
Another exposition worth mentioning is entirely purposed to display pictures and memorabilia from famous Mille Miglia races from Brescia to Rome and back again. This race has been happening every year from 1927 to 1957. The museum hosts a recreation of this iconic event every April and only 1957 or older cars can participate in this rally.
7. National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada
This museum houses the Harrah Collection. William Harrah was a hotel and casino kingdom mastermind, but in his spare time, he devoted some of his fortune to acquire an impressive and museum worthy vintage automobile collection.
This exposition showcases 200 of vehicles. The collection includes some of stars’ favorites, like 1949 James Dean’s Mercury or 1961 Frank Sinatra’s Ghia, to name a few.
The museum, like many others, separates its expositions by historic periods. Each period boasts iconic and time fitting scenery to illustrate different parts of our century. Some collections are rotating and themed.
1908 Thomas Wire is probably the most famous automobile in the entire museum – it won Around the World Race in 1908 and is kept in its authentic dusty appearance.
8. Studebaker national Museum in South bend, Indiana
The museum opens up with an 1835 Conestoga wagon that enabled the population of remote areas of the U.S. It would be hard to find a person that hasn’t seen this pioneer wagon in movies. Our automotive industry really was spearheaded by it.
The story then continues with the father of Studebaker brothers who amassed his fortune making wagons during the Civil War. His sons continued his legacy and developed bodies for the first horseless vehicles in collaboration with Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in 1912. By 1950s the Studebaker Company was well known for their innovative design and signature “bullet nose”.
The museum is located in a 1950s dealership like facility and houses such vehicles as President Lincoln Carriage, a 1934 Bendix, and some Studebakers’ creations. The company stopped producing in 1988.
9. International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama
Talladega is home for famous racetrack and is very popular amongst NASCAR racers and hobbyist drivers. Racing enthusiasts coming for races can enjoy the nearby museum that occupies five buildings, each devoted to a particular category.
There is a building for indie cars driven by famous people. Budweiser Rocket car can also be found here. This famed rocket broke the speed of sound in 1979 at 739.666 mph. One vehicle, Goodwrench Chevy is a reminder of a sad crash in 2001 Daytona 500 that killed Dale Earnhardt. He has won 76 races with this vehicle. Skoal bandit Monte Carlo is another well-known vehicle, driven to victory of Harry Grant’s final race.
In addition to vehicles, the museum offers great collections of all kinds of racing memorabilia. Visitors can find trophies, clothing items, pictures, and souvenirs from every racing event possible, not excluding motorcycles. Visitors can take racetrack tours when there are no racing happening.
10. Henry Ford Museum in Deerfield, Michigan
The museum spreads out on 12 acres and houses the likes of Model T that started our love affair with cars. Ford headquarters are located there too.
In addition to Ford vehicles, the museum offers various other historically significant vehicles to its visitors. Guests can marvel at Edsel, the topless Lincoln Limousine of President John F. Kennedy or Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Vintage vehicles are displayed alongside period ads, newspapers and thus are put into their historical context.
There is a separate area for historic aircraft, including Ford’s engine creations. One other memorable exposition features some technological novelties that helped shape the era. This includes various household appliances and even trains.
Visitor experience is not limited to indoor museum facilities –there are Ford Rouge factory tours and the entire Greenfield village complete with glass blowing and vintage Model AA bus rides.
10 World Best Automobile Museums