Everyone has their own particular story about their first memorable experience at the museum, and for many it was either on a school outing or they simply strolled to the local art museum. If you like art, you can spend hours contemplating the masterpieces of Van Gogh or Monet. But museums are not limited to art; rather, art surpasses paintings. A stroll through automotive history is what car enthusiasts can find pure bliss, and that tops any vacation to the best sunny beaches.
Automotive museums are full of vintage automobiles, the most historically relevant and the rarest that gearheads would gladly give a kidney just to take a spin. You’ll also find some of the craziest concept cars and prototypes that have ever seen the light of day. If cars were gods, then car museums are the temples where any self-respecting car enthusiast comes to revel in the glory of the best cars that have ever walked the earth. Here are the best car museums you should visit at least once.
ten LeMay – Automotive Museum of America in Tacoma, Washington
Located next to the famous Tacoma Dome, the LeMay-America Automotive Museum was built to celebrate America’s love affair with automobiles. Opened in 2012, the Lemay is a newcomer to the museum scene. But it flexes its muscles as the largest of its kind in North America. You can revel in some of the most iconic and rare vehicles the world has seen, with over a century of automotive history.
Most of the automotive artifacts and automobiles on display come from the late Harold LeMay’s extensive private collection. Additionally, there are twelve rotating exhibits and five iconic annual events for car enthusiasts to attend.
9 BMW Welt and BMW Museum in Munich, Germany
BMW has been around for over a century, so it has one of the richest automotive histories of any automaker. The BMW Welt is arguably the most BMW place you can visit. The huge complex in northern Munich combines exhibition, delivery, event location and adventure museum.
In the museum, you will travel through 100 years of automotive innovation, where you will find all the answers to your questions regarding the history of the BMW brand and products. In addition, a visit allows you to visit the factory and the various showrooms presenting the latest BMW models.
8 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana
The next time you attend the Indy 500 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you should take a few moments to visit one of the most visible automotive museums in the world. It was commissioned to preserve and display one of the rarest collections of auto and motor racing vehicles and artifacts. Most of the gems on display have competed in the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
There are at least 75 cars on display at any one time, with more than 30 Indy 500 champions including the Marmon Wasp, winner of the inaugural race in 1911. The museum also provides all the history you can learn about the race, and it features a collection of trophies and a display of rare historical footage and highlights.
7 Museo Enzo Ferrari Modena in Modena, Italy
For any diehard Tofosi or your usual Prancing Horse lover, a visit to the Italian homeland of the car can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Fortunately, anyone hoping to make the pilgrimage has two museums to visit. The Museo Enzo Ferrari Modena is dedicated to Enzo Ferrari and his life’s work. A short shuttle ride away is the Museo Ferrari Maranello which houses the most important road and Formula 1 cars ever made by Ferrari.
A visit comes with the chance to visit the legendary automaker’s factory and the Fiorano circuit, where Ferraris are tested.
6 Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany
Germany is undoubtedly automotive heaven, with some of the most historic and iconic brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Porsche. In 2009, Porsche opened the doors of the Porsche Museum next to its headquarters in Stuttgart. It was an upgrade of the original rolling museum, located near the factory as a relatively small museum of works.
The Porsche Museum is the pinnacle of automotive beauty and passion. You can revel in all the Porsches you could want, with over 80 exhibits, plenty of racing cars and the best historic Porsche models on display.
5 Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California
The Petersen is all thanks to the pioneer of the car enthusiast magazine concept, Pete Petersen. It is a four-story entertainment complex; the second floor offers the main attraction for car enthusiasts. Five rotating galleries feature race cars, rare classics, vintage motorcycles, movie cars, concept cars and other automotive tech goodies.
Petersen and his wife Margie have built up an incredible collection over the years, and the Museum also benefits from loans from other private collections to create ever-changing exhibits.
4 The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan
Just outside Detroit, the automotive capital of the world, you’ll find the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. It is a huge museum with one of the richest collections of automotive history. It features everything from cars, trains, and planes to appliances, inventions, and products of ingenuity throughout American history.
It would take you a few days to cover the entire 254-acre museum and its outdoor Greenfield Village. Still, there’s plenty for car enthusiasts to see, with everything from the #1 Mustang to the Le Mans-winning GT40.
3 Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California
Although tucked away in the seaside town of Oxnard, California, the Mullin Automotive Museum is home to some of the finest and finest French cars ever made. Cars from the Art Deco era dominate the collection of over 100 automobiles of 20th century French automotive style and technology.
The Mullin features Bugatti, Delahaye and Hispano-Suiza designs, among other Art Deco influences from the 1920s and 1930s. Racing enthusiasts will delight in the LeMans exhibit on the upper floor, which features some of the most iconic champions of early 1900s.
2 Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey, UK
The Mercedes-Benz World is one of the best automobile attractions where car enthusiasts can spend a memorable day with the family. Here, young do-it-yourselfers who have not yet obtained their driving license have the chance to drive on a closed circuit under instruction. Later, the whole family can experience the G-forces of an AMG-powered Benz. Still, there’s plenty of automotive history to guide you through Mercedes-Benz memory.
Various exhibits cover a wide range of Mercedes-Benz innovations, from Formula 1 motorsport to the German brand’s collection of historic cars. A replica of the first automobile ever made is also on display.
1 Volkswagen Stiftung Auto Museum in Wolfsburg, Germany
Reveling in the glitz and glamor of the fantastic Zeithaus Autostadt Volkswagen car museum may make you miss the other Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg. The Stiftung AutoMuseum is one of the most treasured hidden gems, and few visitors cross the river in two minutes from the Autostadt and Volkswagen factory. But it’s a must-have for all die-hard Volkswagen fans, as it’s a treasure trove featuring many unique models, concept cars and prototypes that never saw the light of day.
The Stiftung collection includes more than 250 cars, but only 150 vehicles can be exhibited at any given time. The Volkswagen Kafer Cabrio from 1949, the Volkswagen Type 1 from 1978 and the Type 3 Cabrio from 1961 are remarkable and are among the rarest Volkswagens on display.
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