HomeCar CultureCommentaryNew Petersen exhibit focuses on Japanese cars and customization

New Petersen exhibit focuses on Japanese cars and customization


Two for the price of one. That’s the deal Petersen Automotive Museum is offering when it opens two exhibits in the same gallery on May 26. 

•  “The Roots of Monozukuri: Creative Spirit in Japanese Automaking” is the title of an exhibit that will explore innovations in engineering and manufacturing and the design philosophy that led to the market dominance of the 1970s.

• “Fine Tuning: Japanese-American Customs” will focus on car culture and customization on both sides of the Pacific Ocean and how enthusiasts in Japan and the U.S. influenced each other.

“ ‘The Roots of Monozukuri’ exhibit will explore the theme of monozukuri, or ‘the art, science and craft of making things,’ and how it has led to the long-term success of the Japanese automotive industry,” the museum said in its news release. 

“Each car will exemplify this theme by highlighting the creativity, innovation, craftsmanship and collaboration central to Japanese manufacturing. Vehicles will include a 1936 Toyoda AA (replica), a 1966 Nissan Silvia, a 1967 Toyota 2000GT, a 1968 Honda N600 and a 1969 Mazda Cosmo.”

Car museums, New Petersen exhibit focuses on Japanese cars and customization, ClassicCars.com Journal
1937 Nissan

“The impact of the Japanese automotive industry on American life is so powerful that the story has to be represented in two parts to truly capture the spirit of Japanese innovation,” added Terry Karges, the museum’s executive director. “The exhibit is intended to bridge the public’s interest in the evolution of Japanese manufacturing since arriving in the U.S. with Southern California’s place as a hotbed of Japanese car customization that drove a nationwide boom in import car tuning, motorsports and more over the past two decades.”

The museum said “Fine Tuning” will elaborate on the “aesthetic and stylistic conversation between Japanese and American tuners. Focusing on Los Angeles and Japanese car customizers, this exhibit will expose guests to cars that they cannot see elsewhere, from drift and drag cars to highly modified customs and more.”

Vehicles featured include a 1973 Nissan Skyline 2000 GTX “Kenmeri,” a 1991 Toyota Cresta “Kaido” Racer, a 1998 Honda Civic Hatchback Drag Racer and a 1974 Mazda RX-3.

The exhibits run through April 14, 2019, in the Bruce Meyer Family Gallery.

Auction to support California museum

In 2014, the California Ag Museum received five vintage tour buses with the plan to get them road worthy and to sell them at auction to raise funds to support the museum. The museum reports that the buses have been fitted with Ford engines and will be offered up for bidding June 12 at the Ritchie Brothers auction in Dunnigan, California.

Special events this weekend

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, hosts its annual Pre-1942 Showcase Car Show on Saturday. Car owners are encouraged to dress in period clothing and drive their cars on the Gilmore campus roadways during a day when the museum unveils its newest educational program, “The Abernathy Kids,” sharing the true stories of brothers aged 6 and 9 who traveled by themselves from New York City to Oklahoma City in 1910 in a 1909 Brush Runabout.

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, opens its “Mustangs; Six Generations of America’s Favorite Pony Car” exhibit this weekend with an opening reception Friday featuring a panel comprising Mustang experts Chuck Cantwell, John Clor, Gale Halderman and Art Hyde.

The Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts, hosts former Indy 500 rookie of the year Lyn St. James on Saturday with programs beginning at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Saratoga Automobile Museum in upstate New York stages its annual Spring Auto Show this weekend. It starts Saturday with a road trip to tour a private car collection with the car show at the Saratoga Spa State Park on Sunday, when the show field will include a special display by the Antique Automobile Club of America.

It’s Cars & Coffee cruise-in Saturday from 8 until 10 a.m. at the Kansas City Automotive Museum. 

Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida, stages its monthly car show Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Mark your calendar

The presentation of Four Hands on the Wheel, a documentary 1969 film about Mark Donohue, Roger Penske and the 1968 Trans-Am racing season that was scheduled for a screening May 23 at the New England Auto Museum, has been postponed until sometime this fall because of recent weather-related issues.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles stages an opening reception May 24 for its next exhibits, “The Roots of Monozukuri and Fine Tuning,” both of which will feature sports cars from Japan, including a 1967 Toyota 2000GT and the 1991 Toyota Cresta “Kaido” racer.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon, Warwickshire, celebrates the 70th anniversary of Land Rover with “Adventure, Animation and Land Rovers,” a family-oriented program May 26-June 3.

The California Ag Museum in Woodland stages its Tractors & Brews event on June 7 from 6 until 9 p.m.

The Kansas City Automotive Museum hosts its Oddballs and Obscurities Car Show on June 9 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

On Father’s Day weekend, Beaulieu, the National Motor Museum in England,  opens its new summer exhibition, “The Art of Kustom,” featuring automotive creations by Andy Saunders, who will drive one of his customs onto the museum grounds and will unveil his newest project, Metropolis, a transformed 1939 Peugeot 202 pickup, found in a field in France and believed to have been requisitioned by invading forces during World War II. 

The France Family will receive the fifth annual Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for contributions to motorsports on June 28 from the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, New York. The program will be held at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Previous recipients were Chip Ganassi, Richard Petty, Roger Penske and Mario Andretti.

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will offer its first Race Car Summer Camp for ages 10-16 from July 9 to 13. The camp will use motorsports to explore STEM subjects, and each camper will design and race a CO2-powered car. For information and registration, visit the museum website.

The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan, welcomes its Class of 2018 at a gala ceremony July 19. Those being enshrined are Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of Toyota; Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk radio fame; Frank Stronach, founder of automotive supplier Magna International; and Mike Jackson, chairman of AutoNation dealerships.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. At the ripe old age of 8 my father, who was an aircraft mechanic, rebuilt the engine on the family 1940 Ford. He had me clean parts and showed me how ring compression tools worked. Also how to grind valves.
    From that point forward I have had a keen interest in cars. I have owned 40 plus cars in 50 years, as well as having taken part in restoration of 3 or 4 cars.
    I recently restored a 1953 Chevy 3600 pickup truck. My truck has won 11 trophy’s so far. I will have an avid interest in the automotive hobby till the day I die, thanks to my dad who got me interested all those years ago.


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