EDITOR'S NOTE: Spectrum News 1 was given a tour of the new exhibits. Click the arrow above for a sneak preview.

LOS ANGELES — The Petersen Automotive Museum is celebrating an inauspicious anniversary with some upbeat news for car fans: it’s reopening Thursday, almost exactly a year after COVID-19 forced it to shut down.

“We’ve been closed for an entire year, so it’s very exciting for us to get back open again,” said Michael Bodell, deputy director of the Petersen. While it was closed, the museum added about 100 cars to its collection and crafted four new exhibits for the public to enjoy, in person, for the first time.

What You Need To Know

  • The Petersen Automotive Museum reopens Thursday after a year of being closed

  • There will be four new exhibits on display, including supercars, Porsches, Pininfarina, and custom offroaders

  • The museum is limited to 25% capacity

  • Tickets cost $11 to $16 and must be purchased in advance

All of the exhibits are set up as a single directional path, starting on the third floor en route to the first to keep traffic flowing at the 25% capacity that’s currently allowed.

“We’ve reconfigured the entire space to be constrained,” Bodell said, adding that visitors need to do a wellness check, wear masks, and purchase tickets in advance. “This is a reintroduction. Our biggest focus is safety.”

And smokin’ hot cars, of course. 

Supercars is the largest of the new exhibits. It features more than 30 vehicles ranging from a 1913 Mercer Raceabout with a top speed of 100 mph to a 1956 Jaguar XK66 once owned by Steve McQueen to an ultra-rare, highly collectible 1988 McLaren F1, which accelerates from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds, tops out at 225 mph, and is worth $15 million.

“When people think of supercars, they typically don’t think of these earlier era cars,” Bodell said of the exhibit, which winds its way around the third floor with digital displays and signage leading the way past a big block Shelby Cobra, a Ferrari Testarossa, and BMW M1.


Drop down to the second floor, and there are two more all-new exhibits. Redefining Performance features all Porsches all the time, such as the very first Porsche to win at LeMans – the 356 SL – along with more modern models like the 911 RSR. 

Extreme Conditions shows various road-going SUVs modified into off-road performance vehicles from Jeep to Land Rover to Volkswagen. One of the Jeeps on display was raced by the late Jessi Combs, the fastest woman in the world.

Rounding out the new exhibits is a tribute to Pininfarina, the legendary Italian design firm and coachbuilder celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Pininfarina is best known for designing Ferraris, but the vehicles in the last exhibition in the Petersen before the exit are mostly under its own nameplate: the 1947 Cisitalia considered so beautiful that it was once featured in the Museum of Modern Art, a prototype of the highly collectible Ferrari Dino 206, and the forthcoming Battista EV capable of rocketing from 0 to 186 mph in less than 12 seconds.

“This will be one of the fastest road-going cars in the world, and it just so happens to have an electric powertrain,” Bodell said of the Battista EV, which, like the majority of the Pininfarina cars in the exhibit, are on loan.

Petersen visitors who want to see the museum collection in its famed vault will need to purchase a separate ticket.