The list of exceptional automobile museums within the United States is extensive. Among these, there are at least five locations that should be top destinations for every auto enthusiast. Each of the automotive museums on this list have several iconic classic cars within their extensive collection.
Nethercutt Collection in San Sylmar, CA
The Nethercutt Collection is a family-operated museum that features an impressive array of classic cars and a restoration shop. The museum has more than 250 European and American automobiles manufactured between 1898 and 1997. Unlike most of these museums, the Nethercutt Collection keeps each of the automobiles on the property in drivable condition. A restored railcar, a restored steam locomotive and one of the foremost research facilities in the auto industry are also located on the premises.
The Nethercutt Museum is located on Bledsoe Street in Sylmar, Calif. The renowned collection is comprised of automobile collectibles and antiques, the Lower Salon, the Grand Salon and instruments. Antique automobiles from the 1920s and 1930s are featured in the collection’s Grand Salon. Vehicles manufactured from the 1900s to the 1940s are featured in the Lower Salon. Most of the automobiles in the Nethercutt Collection are typically classified as being of the antique era, the vintage era, the classic era or the post-war era.
National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV
The National Automobile Museum on South Lake Street in Reno, NV has approximately 200 vehicles available as part of the permanent collection on-site. Otherwise known as the Harrah Collection, this museum has been recognized as one of the premier automotive museums on more than one occasion. Some of special displays that change throughout the year include the spacemobiles exhibit, the denim exhibit and the Redfield Legacy exhibit. A few of the ongoing exhibits on display throughout the year at this museum are the 1907 Thomas Flyer from the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, the Bill Harrah collection and the Celebrity Autos exhibit.
A number of vehicles on display at the National Automobile Museum were owned by American icons like John Wayne, James Dean, JFK, Frank Sinatra and Elvis. Some of the different vehicles owned by these celebrities include a 1912 Electric Model V Special Extension Coupe, a 1928 Ford Model A Sport Coupe, a 1965 Lotus-Ford 38 Indianapolis Race car and a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Custom Coupe. The museum also provides a theatre presentation of the Bill Harrah story on an hourly basis every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can also enjoy self-guided audio tours in English or Spanish throughout the day. There also several vehicles on display that were used in movies like the Titanic, Ghostbusters and Rebel Without a Cause.
Volo Museum in Volo, IL
The Volo Auto Museum on Volo Village Road in Volo has been operated by one family since 1960. The museum is open seven days a week and the Grams family has more than 30 exhibits available on the premises. The Volo Museum has approximately 300 collector cars for sale and serves as a venue to sell classic cars as well. Some of the unique collections available at this museum include scooters and cycle, vintage snowmobiles, vehicles from cinema and TV and marine memorabilia. The Volo also has an Armed Forced Exhibit on the premises as well.
Some of the most notable vehicles on display at the museum are the ambulance from Ghostbusters, KITT from Knight Rider, the Charger featured in the Fast and Furious, the DeLorean in Back to the Future and the Bluesmobile from Blues Brothers. There are also vehicles at the Volo on display that pay tribute to Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis and Charlie Chaplin. Some of the replicas from major productions include the Batmobile, the Dick Tracy car, the Flintstone Mobile and the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles’ van. Many auto enthusiasts enjoy viewing the muscle car exhibit, the cars of the 50s exhibit, the hot rods and customs exhibit and the different monster trucks on display.
LeMay- America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA
America’s Car Museum was opened in June 2012 and currently features a collection of approximately 350 vehicles. Approximately 400,000 people visit this museum on an annual basis. The museum’s mezzanine provides prolific views of the Olympic Mountains, Downtown Tacoma and the Commencement Bay. The property is a popular site for hosting new car launches, swap meets and car shows. The museum also has a cafe, lecture halls, a banquet room, gift shops and restoration shops on the premises. Some of the exhibits on display include American Muscle: Rivals to the End, American Muscle- Modified Madness, Classics and Custom Coachworks and Master Collectors.
The museum has several hundred unique vehicles spanning over a century of automotive history. Some of the noteworthy automobiles on display include Ford Models from the 1920s, a Lincoln Model Custom Town Car from 1930, a Chevy Impala special Sport Coupe from 1958, the 1966 Ford Mustang and the 69’ Camaro SS Sport Coupe. America’s Car Museum even has the Flintmobile from 1994 and a 1983 Mercury Wagon 005 on display as well. The museum provides limited space for drop-in tours on weekdays, while the State Farm Theatre on-site shows short movies about the museum and special events.
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI
The Henry Ford Museum in the Metro Detroit area may have the most historical significance of all the automotive museums in the country. Famous vehicles from Americana notwithstanding, the museum is also comprised of items from the Industrial Revolution, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop and Thomas Edison’s laboratory. There are also exhibits with the Rosa Parks bus and JFK’s presidential limousine on display as well. The Henry Ford has been recognized as being the largest indoor and outdoor museum facility in the country. Interestingly enough, the clock-tower on-site was actually designed as a replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
The museum spans 12 acres, containing a collection of automobiles, aircrafts and locomotives Henry Ford had been collecting since the early 1900s. Presidential limousines, automobile exhibits, agricultural exhibits and airplane exhibits can all be found on the museum grounds. Some of the vehicles featured in the automotive exhibits include the first ‘65 Ford Mustang, the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile from the ‘50s and the first Ford models from the turn of the century. One of the most captivating automobiles at the museum is the official state vehicle used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, otherwise known as the Sunshine Special. The Thomas Edison and Wrights Brothers exhibits are kept over in Greenfield Village.
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