Home Car Culture Rockin’ the Petersen: James Hetfield’s ‘Reclaimed Rust’ showcases his cars, guitars

Rockin’ the Petersen: James Hetfield’s ‘Reclaimed Rust’ showcases his cars, guitars

The Petersen Automotive Museum opens exhibit featuring 10 custom vehicles, donated from Metallica star’s personal collection


Opening February 1, 2020 in the Bruce Meyer Family Gallery at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, “Reclaimed Rust: The James Hetfield Collection” celebrates the Metallica frontman’s creativity as a world-renowned artist through his built-from-scratch custom car collection, guitars, photos and memorabilia.

An opening reception was highlighted by a ribbon cutting, a fireside chat with James Hetfield, and an auction featuring two limited-edition ESP guitars.

Hetfield was making his first appearance since entering rehab last September. It was explained to staffers at the Petersen that this grand donation was a part of his “letting go.”
During the fireside chat, Hetfield sang his praises of the museum:“There’s no other place like this. The Petersen is the pinnacle. It’s the best place to have your vehicles. They weren’t doing me much good sitting in my garage. I loved looking at them.

“The best part is they’re all together. I didn’t want to auction them off and go all over the world. It’s a collection. It marks my life.”

Key vehicles on display include the 1948 Jaguar “Black Pearl,” the 1934 Packard “Aquarius,” the 1953 Buick Skylark “Skyscraper,” the 1937 Lincoln Zephyr “VooDoo Priest,” the 1936 Auburn “Slow Burn.” which were designed by famed builder and television personality, Rick Dore, as well as the 1936 Ford “Iron Fist,” the 1937 Ford Coupe “Crimson Ghost,” and the 1932 Ford Roadster “Black Jack.”

Along with the custom vehicles, memorabilia on display includes an ESP Hollow Body guitar and a Mesa-Boogie amplifier painted to match the Buick Skylark “Skyscraper.” There also are images displaying the build process of each car and a video of Hetfield talking about the cars.

‘Reclaimed Rust’ brings together two industries that go hand in hand with artist expression,” said Petersen executive director Terry L. Karges. “This is the first time the Hetfield collection will be showcased to the public and we can’t wait to share the inspiration behind these extraordinary vehicles with the world.”

Without a doubt, cars and music do go together very well. Top-tier donors of the museum include guitar-god Jeff Beck and ZZ-Top frontman Billy Gibbons. Also attending the opening were Hetfield’s Metallica bandmate Robert Trujillo; Van Halen and Sammy Hagar bassist Michael Anthony and Alice in Chains guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell.

Hetfield is a lifelong car enthusiast and views his collection as a form of expression to convey his creativity. Hetfield’s vehicles assert both a reverence for history and a disregard for convention, standing collectively as a testament to the musician’s distinctive personality and artistic energy.

“Reclaimed Rust,” sponsored by ESP Guitar Company, will run through October 2020.

For more information, visit the museum website.


Tom Stahler
Tom Stahler is the Managing Editor of the ClassicCars.com Journal. Tom has a lifelong love of cars and motor racing – beginning with the 1968 USRRC race at Road America, in a stroller, at eight months of age. His words, photos and broadcasts can can be found on a myriad of media. He has won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award and a Gold Medal in the International Automotive Media Awards.


    • Darn right Shawn! We lost Mr. De Ley a couple of years ago and his fingerprints were all over the cars before the paint was applied. Great shout out!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts