Best Classic Car Museums in the United States
Classic car culture thrives on the open road, the driveway, the garage and even in museums. Some collector cars travel the show circuit, but others exist in collections that draw crowds to them. Museums not only show off some great cars, but educate with exhibit themes and atmosphere. Here’s a list of some classic car museums you may want to visit.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum – Indiana
4790 West 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Phone: (317) 492-8500
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is located on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a National Historic Landmark. The Museum’s collection encompasses race cars from many series: IndyCar, NASCAR, Formula One, Sprint, Midget, motorcycle races, and drag racing. It also includes a variety of passenger automobiles, many of which were manufactured in Indiana by companies that once had ties to racing.
Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum – Pensylvania
6825 Norwitch Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19153
Phone: (215) 365-7233
The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is a nonprofit institution that celebrates the evolution of racing sports cars with over 65 historically significant cars assembled over a 50 year period by Dr. Frederick Simeone. The institution has numerous special events throughout the year, so keep an eye on their calendar!
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum – Indiana
1600 South Wayne St.
Auburn, Indiana 46706
The old Auburn Automobile Company factory is home to the world’s largest collection of Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg automobiles. MSNBC News named it one of the “Top Ten Gearhead Destinations in the United States,” and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Plan a visit in August and you can be there for the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival. See Cars On Line coverage of the event here! You can also see photographs of the museum here!
Gilmore Car Museum – Michigan
6865 W Hickory Rd
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
Phone: (269) 671-5089
On a 90-acre historic campus midway between Detroit and Chicago is the Gilmore Car Museum. Here, visitors shoot the breeze in an old-fashioned gas station, children stand inches from a 1930 Rolls-Royce that’s from a Disney® movie, and grandparents reminisce about a ’57 Chevy that was the star of their yesteryear. Stroll the campus, eat lunch in the authentic Blue Moon Diner, and walk right up to an amazing collection of over 300 vintage automobiles and motorcycles.
Petersen Automotive Museum – California
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 930-2277
New renovations are coming to the Peterson, which includes a brand new aesthetic and indoor restaurant, opening spring of 2016. It’s part of a revitalization project that included the neighboring Academy of Motion Pictures Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Together, they make a trifecta of incredible museums to see in Los Angeles.
The Museum of Automobiles – Arkansas
8 Jones Lane
Morrilton, AR 72110
Phone: (501) 727-5427
Located atop beautiful Petit Jean Mountain in central Arkansas, the Museum of Automobiles is home to the only Climber automobiles known to exist. Drop by and experience this unique part of Arkansas’ automotive heritage! A display of over 50 cars includes the 1951 Cadillac driven by Mayor and founder, Winthrop Rockefeller.
National Corvette Museum – Kentucky
350 Corvette Dr
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Phone: (270) 781-7973
America’s Sports Car… an exciting legend produced only in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The museum features over 80 Corvettes in periodic settings, including mint classics, one-of-a-kind prototypes, and modern-day wonders of engineering and design. Test your knowledge at interactive trivia kiosks. Displays continually rotate, so no two visits are the same.
The Nethercutt Collection – California
15200 Bledsoe St
Sylmar, CA 91342
Phone: (818) 364-6464
The Nethercutt Collection features rare collectibles ranging from mechanical musical instruments and antique furniture to the true heart of the collection: over 250 American and European automobiles dating from 1898 to 1997.
National Automobile Museum (the Harrah Collection) – Nevada
10 S. Lake St.
Reno, NV 89501
Late Reno businessman William F. “Bill” Harrah collected and restored antique, classic and special interest autos at his restoration shop for 40 years. The fruits of his labor were donated to the National Automobile Museum which now has more than 220 creatively displayed vehicles. It features multiple permanent and rotating exhibits in addition to the original Harrah Collection.
AACA Museum – Pennsylvania
161 Museum Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
The Tour Book for Antique Car Buffs calls the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum “one of the guiding lights in the world of antique automobiles.” Their 70,000 sq. ft. three story museum and 25 acres of surrounding land feature 85-100 classic cars and trucks at any given time, a collection that spans almost a century of American motoring from an 1895 Chicago Motor Benton Harbor to a 1977 Chrysler Cordoba with “fine Corinthian leather.”
Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection – Michigan
Skillman Branch Library
121 Gratiot Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
The NAHC is regarded as the largest public automotive archive collection in North America, and contains over 600,000 processed items that include books, magazines, photographs, manuals and documents detailing all aspects of the automotive world.
The Henry Ford – Michigan
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, MI 48124
The Henry Ford devotes 90 acres to documentation of the genius of ordinary people, making it the world’s largest indoor-outdoor museum. Part of their impressive collection that ranges in the millions of items is over 100 classic cars and trucks on permanent display. Among them is an 1886 Duryea Motor Wagon and the presidential limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in.
Meadow Brook Hall – Michigan
480 S. Adams Rd.
Rochester Hills, MI 48309
Though not expressly a classic car museum, Meadow Brook Hall is an example of what the astoundingly successful automobile industry was able to bring to its founders. Matilda Raush Dodge Wilson, widow of John Dodge built what is now one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival architecture in America.
Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum – California
Pomona Fairplex (County Fair Grounds, gate 1)
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
If you’re into racing and hot rodding, you’ll want to visit the National Hot Rod Association Museum, where 28,000 sq. ft. of floor space is dedicated to hot rods, street rods, drag racers, dry-lake racers, Indy cars and more! There’s also memorabilia on display, a gift shop, research library, art gallery and a multi-media classroom.
Studebaker Museum – Indiana
201 S. Chapin St.
South Bend, IN 46601
Phone: 574-235-9714 or 888-391-5600
Many of Studebaker’s company-owned vintage vehicles were eventually donated to this museum, which has more than 120 vehicles in its collection, with 70 on display at any given time. It houses many unique vehicles too, like the 1956 Packard Predictor and the 1934 Bendix SWC. You can also visit the museum store or dive into nearly 70 tons of paper documents that include engineering drawings, production records and newspaper articles.
Volo Auto Museum – Illinois
27582 Volo Village Rd
Volo, IL 60073
Volo Auto Museum’s collection not only includes an impressive array of collector cars for sale, but also showrooms populated by more unusual classics. That includes Duesenbergs, military vehicles, and a Hollywood Collection that features everything from the Batmobile to Mattel’s real-life Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Van. From there, things get even weirder in their appropriately named “Bizarre Car Collection.”