If you’re reading this, you probably know the most popular cars in the world include a Corolla, a Ford pickup truck or a Volkswagen Golf. These are reliable cars, even good cars, but car aficionados aren’t necessarily attracted to good cars. What we want is character.
Character is what makes people live with Alfa Romeos. It’s what makes the thrum of an air-cooled Porsche or the blast of a five-cylinder Audi so special, even though it’s really just exhaust noise. Character makes a car transcend the status of being merely a car and moves it into the realm of art. If it’s art you want, here are a few of the best car museums in the world you need to visit.
Petersen Automotive Museum
We begin our journey through the world’s finest shrines to the automobile in Los Angeles, California. The Petersen includes rides such as vintage Bugattis, Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS and even an original James Bond Aston Martin DB4.
Mercedes-Benz and Daimler have been building cars as long as any marque currently in production today. This sprawling 16,500 square-meter facility houses multiple showcases of Mercedes both old and new in Stuttgart.
Located in Cambiano, Italy, Museo Pininfarina isn’t a showcase for a single marque but rather one of the planet’s last coachbuilders. Pininfarina has been responsible for shaping some of the greatest-ever Ferrari designs, and its heritage doesn’t end there.
Nissan Heritage Museum
The Nissan Heritage Museum in Japan contains some truly great examples of this humble but ambitious marque since the days when it was known as Datsun. Of particular interest for racing aficionados, the Nissan Heritage Museum is something of a speakeasy of car museums. Not just anyone gets in.
Museo Storico Alfa Romeo
Some would argue the only truly appropriate setting for an Alfa is in a museum. After all, they’re only made to drive for a few thousand miles at a time before you’ve got to keep them stationary to fix them. But hey, beauty cannot be held back by such petty things, and this Italian museum has beauty in spades.
The Porsche Museum
Mercedes’ neighbor in Stuttgart, the Porsche Museum keeps a world-class selection of its finest vintage works on hand and rotates them for the world to see in this handsomely styled structure. No visit to Europe to retrieve your new Carrera would be complete without stopping in.
Museo Enzo Ferrari
If there’s a museum that isn’t overstated despite having enormous air intakes carved into its exterior — like the ones from a supercar — it’s this one. The world’s most recognizable exotic car brand makes its home in Modena, Italy, and you can check out some of the most famous Ferrari sports and race cars beneath that aerodynamic roof. It’s fly yellow, by the way, not red.
Your Local Museum
Sometimes the best museum is the one that’s right in your backyard. Wherever you are located, you can usually find something close by with amazing exhibits. For instance, my local Pennsylvania AACA Museum has great promotions, raffles for new Corvettes and attractions ranging from vintage to the Hershey’s Kissmobile Cruiser. And it’s just a short drive down the road.
I could go on, but as you probably know, sometimes the best place for car spotting is just on your local block, or at a favorite cars and coffee. A work of art should be appreciated no matter the setting.