A Petersen Museum Vault tour of history’s worst car failures

Closed to the public because of the pandemic, the museum has created a number of virtual tours

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In a visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum’s famous Vault, where the bulk of the Los Angeles institution’s cars are stored, here’s a tour of “The Worst Car Failures of All Time” hosted by Jason Hartwig, the museum’s director of education.

With an apparent encyclopedic knowledge of the more odd and arcane vehicles held in the Vault, Hartwig presents an entertaining look at history’s also-rans that were short-lived for any number of reasons, from wacky designs to bad business decisions.

“Reliability, 3-wheels, cost, and many other factors went into these vehicles failing in the industry,” the Petersen says in the introduction to the video. “All of them were observed by the industry on what not to build and some were even shut down by the automotive industry themselves.

“Discover the stories of the Ruxton, Preston Tucker, Geraldine Carmichael and more. On this tour, we ask ‘What were they thinking?’”

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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