These are some dark times for the automotive industry as the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on car production and sales, consequently forcing automakers to send workers home. Museums are also directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, but thanks to the Internet and YouTube, we can still visit them via virtual tours automakers have promptly set up.
The Petersen Automotive Museum is also playing its part by allowing us to take a good look at its eclectic collection straight in the comfort of our own homes while we’re all waiting for the museum to open its doors once again. This hour-long tour goes through some of the Vault’s highlights, starting off with a horse-drawn 1904 Studebaker carriage sitting alongside a 1903 Cadillac equipped with a one-cylinder combustion engine to signal the early days of North American car production.
Gallery: Petersen Automotive Museum Vault
The tour then moves on to motorcycles before switching back to cars, including a bunch of Ford Model Ts illustrating the evolution of the automobile with a growing number of comfort features. From a supercharged Duesenberg to Fred Astaire’s Rolls-Royce, the video focuses on some luxurious creations from the 1920s and 1930s, along with a more utilitarian Ford Model A Woody wagon.
We could go on forever talking about each and every single car featured in the collection, but we’d like to bring to your attention only a few of them. A couple of relevant examples would have to be very first Honda exported to the United States and a super-rare Mercedes 600 Landaulet formerly owned by Saddam Hussein, a stately open-top sedan with a fabric roof over the passenger compartment side and a hardtop up front.
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A never-used Popemobile is also showcased, along with the first armored U.S. presidential car and the Ferrari 308 GTS used in Magnum P.I. Contrasting the tiny Honda N600 we mentioned earlier is the gigantic coachbuilt Rolls-Royce Round Door over 20 feet long (six meters) and weighing about 8,000 pounds (3,628 kilograms). Sitting in the same room is a very different car – a rare Kaiser Darrin with sliding doors representing one of the first production cars with a fiberglass body to hit the market.
The Petersen Automotive Museum’s Vault also has one of the few gold-plated DeLorean DMC-12s joined by a rare gold-painted Mustang built by Ford to mark the pony car's production milestone of one million units. We also get to check out what could very well be the very first Ferrari, a Jaguar XJ220, and current hypercars including McLaren’s P1 and the more recent Senna.
As great as the lengthy video is, an actual tour of The Vault is even better. That said, you’ll have to patiently wait as the Petersen Automotive Museum website says the location is closed until May 15th.