A former employee of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles once revealed to me what was, by far, the most popular car in their collection. Care to guess? No, it isn’t a rare exotic like their quad-turbo V12 Bugatti EB110. Nor is it a classic like their 1947 Ferrari 125S, the very first car to bear ol’ Enzo’s surname, one of just two built. And it’s not their concours-winning 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I “Round Door”, a stunning coach-built one-off from the Art Deco age. It’s the Batmobile.
Turns out, most visitors to Los Angeles’ Museum Row, a cluster of galleries along Wilshire Blvd’s Miracle Mile, are only casual car enthusiasts. Many aren’t car enthusiasts at all, but simply movie fans who want to catch a whiff of Tinseltown.
In that vein, the Petersen’s new exhibit, which focuses on movie cars from science fiction and fantasy titles, is sure to be a hit. The display features not only the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” but other blockbuster movie cars as well. Top billing goes to the DeLorean time machine from “Back to the Future,” the 1959 Cadillac-based Miller-Meteor Futura Duplex known as Ecto-1 from “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and a Lexus LC500 from “Black Panther.”
Not all the cars are originals, though, as many of the vehicles were far too valuable to destroy during filming (or even just use for filming). For instance, in 2021’s “Red Notice,” a 1931 Mercedes Grosser 770 was discovered in a Nazi bunker and driven over a waterfall. Obviously, the movie makers used a replica. Likewise, a 1933 Auburn Speedster used in 2013’s “The Great Gatsby” is also a fake, though quite convincing from photos.
Fans of Detroit Iron will also likely enjoy the 1967 Chevy Impala sedan from the TV series “Supernatural,” the 1976 Ford Gran Torino from “Starsky and Hutch,” and a rare 1948 Packard Station Sedan from “Lovecraft Country.”
Finally, there are some creations developed specifically for the movies they were featured in. Examples include the IOI Transporter, a futuristic armored truck from “Ready Player One‘s” timeline in 2045. Going even further into the future we find a 2054 Lexus Maglev car from “Minority Report.” Then there’s a trio of alternate timeline bikes — a monocycle and custom chopper-style motorcycle, both from “Men in Black 3,” and a 2018 Skynet Moto-Terminator from “Terminator: Salvation.”
But that’s not all. Through October 2022, the Petersen has a concurrent exhibit devoted solely to vehicles from the James Bond movies. So if you’re a movie buff who happens to like cars as well, now would be a very good time to pay the Petersen a visit.