Robert E. Petersen changed the car world in 1948 when he first published Hot Rod Magazine, an original idea that led to a vast publishing and real estate empire in Hollywood.
Petersen supported the National Hot Rod Association and drag racing in general, the aftermarket industry through SEMA from its very beginnings as the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association, and moved freely in and out of Hollywood’s power circles as a fine-art gallery owner and restaurateur.
In the 1970s, Pete Petersen put a bunch of movie cars in an old building at the end of Hollywood Boulevard and called it The Cars Are The Stars.
That led to opening the first Petersen Museum in a former department store in the Wilshire district. And that, years after Petersen’s death, led to the fabulous $100 million museum that now occupies the southeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax.
The Petersen has become famous as much for what is inside the building as it has for its completely original exterior wrap in ribbons of red and silver, because what’s inside keeps changing all the time.
The original idea from the 1970s, movie cars, has been expanded into a huge collection, but there is plenty of room in its 300,000 square feet of display space to feature half a dozen special collections at once.
Beverly Hills retailer, car nut, Bonneville racer, vintage sports car racer and drag racer Bruce Meyer, who has supported the Petersen in every possible way since the new museum was started, is currently showing almost a dozen of his cars in the Bruce Meyer Family Gallery, and they are a very special bunch of machines.
Meyer likes to find cars that made history, cars that won big races and big championships and otherwise moved the needle by being the first or the best. He has displayed his cars at every significant concours d’elegance in the world over the years, and, to see this many of them in one place, was a rare treat.
The rest of the fluid collection is, as always, spiced and dotted with all kinds of interesting machines that have two wheels, four wheels, and no wheels at all.